Anticipation and unresolved sub-plots (that become main plots)

Flaviosky

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Hello, community

I wanted to make a plot-related question.

Initially I had a first tome in the making, and I laid out what would be the plot of the second tome. The first book was about the journey of a princess to recover her throne and the second was about stopping the imperialist plans of one of the nations in which the princess travelled through in the first book.

The thing is the first book became a three-volume series, so this menace would be laid out in the second and third book (as an incipient sub-plot) and only in the fourth (or even fifth tome, depending on the editing yet to be made) this would become the main plot and drive the rest of the story.

May be too much to have something hanging for one or even two books? It is acceptable to have this to remain unresolved for that long?

I'll gladly know your opinions about this.

Thanks a lot!
 

DLCroix

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Well, that is the reason why I have not yet published the first trilogy of a saga that I wrote, from which, by the way, two more books emerged and the beginning of a sixth, until I have a clear prequel. In addition, given that the story spans about four centuries, the idea is to show how that society evolved, where the conflict began that the characters in the final part of the story must resolve. There are even some that are reincarnations of characters from the first part or prequel.
Well, all of these are things that I have been solving for over a decade, but I suppose that is how works of this nature are: they are indeed long-term stories. Who knows what I was thinking about when I decided to get into making a river type novel. But, thinking in terms of the plot and your princess, it seems to me that all this that happens to you is because you are beginning to know your own story, you are discovering, little by little, a detail here, another there, and a week or two. the following month you get a glimpse of the idea that allows you to tie several things at once or, alas, it begins to complicate them. But that's what's fun, right?
And the fact is that the plot, designing it, only gives you a referential framework, for the moment you know that your princess is starting to regain her throne, but now you are seeing the details of how that will happen, that is why you are running into plot changes , additions, side stories, etc. In fact I would say that the thing about the princess regaining the throne is, let's say, the central idea of the story, but you have not yet discovered what is in the background. So, what to do?
Divide and subdivide.
It's what I did. Each book must be independent. That is, it responds to a central argument that ties the whole story together, but gives the reader the option of being able to read any of them, in the order they want, without having to resort to the others. But, for example, if in your story they fight with water swords, in each book you will have to explain what water swords are.
 

msstice

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I would think a satisfying point to end is where the major problem faced at the start of the book is resolved for the moment. It doesn't have to be resolved for all time, and you can hint at subsequent books by pointing out new problems that are bubbling, or the fact that the old problem hasn't gone away for ever.
 

tinkerdan

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Unrequited threads seem like unrequited love.
If you have too many and have some fans of your work as a result.
Those fans might well become known as torchers.
But that's another thread entirely.

 

WSDuffy

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I'm nowhere near ready to write massive trilogies myself, so take this with a grain of salt. What I would say is that it is fine for an underlying menace to be present in background for many books, as long as the menace doesn't undercut or take away from the main plot of the story. To cite a recent example, some threats or background concepts in Seanan McGuire's October Daye books took 10+ books to resolve, but it worked well because in the previous books they raised the stakes of main plots but didn't render them less important or the endings of the stories less satisfying. In your case, I think the threat of an imperial power would be a great motivator for your princess, even if the machinations never make it a foreground. The mere possibility that an imperial power will come for the princess throne gives her a ticking clock, and a potential motivator for anyone who wishes to obstruct her progress.
 

Flaviosky

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making a river type novel
Could you explain what a "River-Type" novel is? I'm quite intrigued

if in your story they fight with water swords, in each book you will have to explain what water swords are.
Yeah. I've recieved the same comment before. However, how is best adviced to tackle this issue not to hinder the reading of someone who picked the series from the start? I can't imagine having a reader being happy about encountering the same piece of worldbuilding over and over.
 

Flaviosky

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I would think a satisfying point to end is where the major problem faced at the start of the book is resolved for the moment
Mmmmm, yeah, I mean, I have laid out some sort of satisfying ending of the first problem (recover the throne) but it wouldn't get THAT satisfying if this menace (the invading empire) is set to eventually make its move. The issue here is that, as it's currently written, only the reader knows about this.

How to get a satisfying ending but still have the next problem as a hook for the subsequent volume?
 

DLCroix

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Could you explain what a "River-Type" novel is? I'm quite intrigued


Yeah. I've recieved the same comment before. However, how is best adviced to tackle this issue not to hinder the reading of someone who picked the series from the start? I can't imagine having a reader being happy about encountering the same piece of worldbuilding over and over.

The main characteristic of this type of novels, and what differentiates them from the sagas, is the large number of characters and plots and subplots that are developed. In fact the linearity of the story or plot cohesion may or may not present itself. The most popular example is A Song of Ice and Fire.
Regarding your second question, well, the narrator I chose for my saga even jokes about that, which already seems idiot repeating every time (or rather in each book) that she is dead or asks innocently if she did not say before or explain a certain matter and apologizes for his bad memory, etc. Although in that specific case I invented a narrator who is telling the story to her orphan daughter.
But there are other ways to fix it. In fact, a first-person narrator can have the same tone of black humor and that is why more or less I chose a narrator who tells the story to her daughter but who, deep down, is a hypothetical reader. I mean, I'm flat-out omitting the male reading audience but even then I haven't received any complaints from my male beta readers.
Now, regarding your story, I advise designing a narrator that also has that quality of, let's say, not being so formal. For example, in Neuromancer, Gibson uses a third-person narrator, but there are passages where he speaks directly to the reader and creates the type feeling by telling you a story at a bar. That is, a narrator who in theory should be impersonal Gibson makes him close. I have observed that Rothfuss does the same of the narrator who is actually in a tavern as well as recalling the story between jug and jug of wine.
Anyway, the types of narrators are a separate story, the point is that you must find a way to explain things even if they sound repetitive because otherwise they will not understand you, I think. But from one book to another you can, as I used to joke, example: that a character frowns at another and says: "come on, you still don't understand how water swords work" and you release it, deep down it is the reader who they explain. Thus, in a third book you can already put the same character grabbing his head, oh no, again. It all depends on the freshness with which your narrators speak. So, it occurs to me that if someone has already read it in a previous book they will excuse the repetition depending on how novel, or entertaining, you tell them. Well, your narrator actually. :ninja:
 

sknox

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>It is acceptable to have this to remain unresolved for that long?
Short answer: sure.
Slightly longer answer: within each book you will want to have challenges met, some overcome, some seemingly insurmountable. This happens even within a single, standalone novel. Just because your story is longer doesn't mean the rules change.

The thing to do is to get in hip deep on that first novel. Build out your characters. Put flesh on the world. The rest will come.
 

Flaviosky

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come on, you still don't understand how water swords work
I think this approach will work, specially if one of the protagonists acts as an unknowledgeable character. Thanks!
I advise designing a narrator that also has that quality of, let's say, not being so formal
I have this idea as well, partially to tackle a "show vs tell" conflict I have regarding flashbacks and character backgrounds.
 

DLCroix

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Yes, well, the flashback can also be useful if you use a character telling the story (or the part that is repeated, considering the thread) to another. He can say, for example: "Those damn lousy heretics refused to give up and didn't even know how the water swords worked." Then the other says: "What are the swords of ... how did you say..., of water?" and there you have it, precious, free infodump, and it is also colloquial, endearing. Pérez Reverte does it every five minutes, by the way. :ninja:
 
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