I made a decision just last week. Rather than a trilogy, my current project ‘The Fourth Ruling’ is going to be a standalone. It is frustrating in some ways, but liberating in others.
As a writer I’ve taught myself that I should write what I enjoy. I should not write in a specific genre or in a specific language because it would elevate my chances of getting published. I feel that making decisions solely based on getting published blocks the creative process. If I force myself into writing romance novels while I don’t enjoy it, the chances of crafting a good story are kind of slim. Don’t you think?
When it comes to other stuff, I do think being smart is important. Especially if that choice is smart, but also really quite a relief. Making a standalone of The Fourth Ruling is just that. When I set out to write this story (more than two years ago), I was crafting this big-big-big world. Like… heading towards Lord of the Rings-sized.
I had a lot of ideas flopping around, but most had little direction. Notes ended up on my phone, on sticky notes, in Word documents. Yeah… it was a mess. And that’s ok if it all comes together in the end, but it just never really did. Then, a writer friend posted a link of an article on Facebook, which was about why kicking your writing career off with a trilogy is not the best idea. And you know what? The writer of that article made some really valid points. If you’re interested in the article that I’ve read, you can find a link right here.
So there I was, totally baffled by all of the stuff that I had created. I was and still am excited about a lot of it. But why not use the stuff I’m excited about and create one story. Especially since, after some thinking, it turns out to be possible. Now, it seems silly trying to create three books, while I’m still learning how to write. I would like to create different stories and not just get hung up on this one world. Not right now anyway. My writing style is still developing. I’m still learning about creating characters, designing a plot and setting up an immersive world. Why not allow myself to learn before I commit to a three-novel project?
Making this decision wasn’t exactly easy, because so much effort went into creating this world. However, I realise the thought-process of crafting a story was very valuable. First of all, I created a LOT of backstory, which I can use in The Fourth Ruling. Secondly, once I finish this story, I can move on to the next project and I’ll be able to continue my learning process while crafting a new tale.
I’m excited and scared (yes, that too), but mainly relieved that I’m figuring things out. I’d rather admit this story works better as a standalone, both for my writing career and for me as a writer, than continue on and realise it has been a huge mistake. It beats trying to drag myself through words and sequels that are not necessary to get this story, which I really do love, on paper.
Have you ever struggled with changing your story drastically? What was your experience?