For some reason, over the last couple of years, when I get a story idea it's never just for a single story, it's for a series. Or at the very least a trilogy. And apparently I'm not alone in this because I've seen a number of series crop up lately.
As a reader, there are times when I like a series and times I don't. When I find a book I really enjoy I never want it to end, and with a series it doesn't have to. At least not right away. Sometimes it's the same characters with new adventures, sometimes it's the same story with new characters. But there's no denying there's a lot of great series out there.
When you're writing a series it really does pay to plan ahead, and coming from a die-hard pantser that's saying something. But writing is nothing if not a learning experience and this is something I learned the hard way.
When I started writing An Elemental Wind I had no thoughts of taking it any further than a single novel. In fact, the working title was simply Space Opera. But it turned out that my main character, Nakeisha, was more powerful than anyone had suspected, and when the mysterious Illezie tested her, they were disappointed she wasn't "the one". But the one what? Hmm. So then I thought I should keep the main story going and started working on An Elemental Fire. At that point I knew there was going to be at least four books, one for each element, and then a fifth one that would tie them all together. But I still had no idea what that main thread was.
The breeding program introduced in Fire was originally intended to create a better, purer elemental, but the question remained, why? With An Elemental Water, which was written to be a mirror of Fire, I came up with the idea that "the One" was going to be the saviour of the Illezie home world somehow and that the breeding program had been started to create this person. But by the end of the book the story started to become more complicated and the concept of the "five who are one" was conceived. Despite there only being only four elements, I knew who the fifth one was going to be, and I finally had some inkling of why they were needed.
In An Elemental Earth we're introduced to Gra'anna, the oldest Illezie still living, and she tells us that the prophecy about "the One" had been twisted over the years, and set the ground work for An Elemental Spirit. But it wasn't until several false starts with Spirit that things finally started falling into place and I knew how my series was going to end. You have no idea what a relief that is!
Meanwhile, I had an idea for a romance trilogy I called the Wishing Star Series. It begins with three women on a getaway weekend to a cabin in the northern woods. On their way there they stop to help a little old lady getting harassed by some teenagers. Turns out the little old lady is a fairy godmother who grants them each a wish, but it has to be for something personal. While sitting around the campfire that night they see the evening star and each wish for their dream man. From there the story splits into three - one for each of them as they've each wished for very different men.
While this is a trilogy, all three stories have the same starting point which makes it much easier. And what makes it even better is that I'm working on all three of them at the same time so I can better keep track of what's going on.
However, and this is where the number seven comes in, when I started world building (because even though they're very different stories they all take place in the same mythical world), I decided that Three Realms didn't have much of a ring to it and that Five Realms sounded better. But that meant I'd have to write two more stories, one for each realm. And then somehow the Five Realms morphed into the Seven Realms, which means I'll have four more stories to write.
BUT, just to keep all these realms straight, I sat down and wrote a prologue that can be used for all of the books, and then in my Desert Realm book, the hero is relating his version of the creation myth to the heroine, so I had to actually come up with a creation myth. And it's pretty cool, if I do say so myself. I might even include it as a introduction to each of the seven books. :-D
And apparently I really like the number seven, because when Gra'anna, in An Elemental Spirit is telling her group about the prophecy and how it's become perverted over the centuries, she mentions seven keys to the Shrine of Knowledge and the seven races that were pretty much in charge of everything before the humans were evolved enough to matter.
There are seven days in the week, seven notes on the musical scale, and there are seven directions - north, south, east, west, up, and down (or if you prefer: up, down, left, right, forward, back, and center). There are seven colours in the rainbow (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, and indigo), seven wonders of the world, and seven continents. The world was created in seven days.
Co-incidence? I think not.