Today, three years since I had written the very first draft of The Merlin Paradox, I had a major revelation regarding the trilogy I’ve always wanted to write.
Having just completed a rewrite of the story, for the last couple of weeks I’ve been thinking hard about how to focus it. A lot happens in it. I struggle to simplify it into one concept or one theme. So today I tried to write a fresh synopsis for it, hoping it would give me ideas, and………. it gave me an idea.
Would this story make more sense as two books????
Reading the synopsis back, I see the plot threads interweaving with each other very nicely. It’s a long synopsis but there’s no fluff in it. There’s no subplot that can be easily cut out to simplify it. If I cut one of the plot threads, the other plot threads won’t make sense. I crammed quite a lot of story into a very short time frame, so much story, I would expect it out of more than one book. So why struggle with trying to smash it all together instead of fleshing it out as the complex story that it is?
Changing this duology into a trilogy will solve many issues!
From the time I wrote that first draft three years ago, I’ve always imagined that it was a start of a trilogy and had started a sequel already but had no ideas for the third book. But if the story within the Merlin Paradox is already two books, then I don’t have to look for the plot of the third book anymore.
Splitting the book in two would also help with the problem where Seri, the secondary protagonist, sort of takes over the story in the second half. Let’s just give him that entire second half as his book!
Another issue this would address is Ruby’s story arc. I was planning for him to get his Aha! Moment at the end of the book, but then when writing, he came to learn that lesson in the middle and it wouldn’t make sense to delay it. I let that be at the time, hoping it would work itself out later, and forgot about it. But now, I’m thinking that the moment when he had a revelation regarding his initial story goal was the climax of his internal story arc of the first book. He has a second Aha! Moment at the very end of the second half of the story and that is the climax of the second book. Why did I not see this before????
The length won’t be a problem because I’m an underwriter. The Merlin Paradox is currently at 96k. I need to flesh out the worldbuilding in that book, and I always add words when I edit, so I’m sure I can easily turn each book to be at least 60k words and that’s enough.
Disclaimer. While the following is a general overview of the trilogy, including the ending of each book, I don’t think it contains any spoilers so read away. And naturally, all of these plans are subject to change.
Let’s brainstorm the new plan
The first book would be about the characters meeting and the romance that blooms between them, but they each have a major problem that they’re avoiding. And just as Will they or won’t they? question is answered, they’re ripped from each other because there’s just so long you can avoid problems before they catch up with you.
After that delicious cliffhanger, book two would be about dealing with those problems at last while trying to get back to each other. It would end with problems solved and a sweet reunion but not for long because there’s one more problem that gets introduced in the process. There can be no happily ever after until they address it.
In book three, they go on a journey to set everything right in their world, but as they’re settling into new lives that they’ve always wanted, their relationship is put to the test. They have to reconcile family and personal goals if they want to stay together.
And that is the new plan.
Each book plays on the concepts of identity, dynamics of family units, and that ultimately love doesn’t solve problems on its own, but if you let it, love can become that final push that motivates you to do what you’ve always dreaded doing.
Now that you have planned the trilogy, what’s next?
I am quite pleased at the moment. Not only because I solved several issues with one solution, but also because this means that I already have a draft complete for two books! My publishing plans for The Merlin Paradox have been to have at least the drafts of the full trilogy complete before I published the first book. So I already got two of the three done!
But clearly, this doesn’t mean that splitting the book into two will be as easy as ending it in the middle. I will have to reevaluate the story arcs to ensure that each book feels satisfying on its own, but having a plan makes me hopeful that the story I’ve written is going to be as epic to the readers as it feels to me.
Despite the setting, this story is not an epic fantasy since it doesn’t have epic stakes at work. All stakes are very personal to the characters. What’s at stake? Happiness, well-being, their future, and of course, love. It’s not an epic fantasy. It’s an epic love story that takes a trilogy to tell!