I recently spent the last sixteen months writing an entire sequel arc to the Amargosa series. Nine books 75-90K each. Dictation and committing to 3000-4000 words a day helped. However…
The point of this arc was for Suicide to bow out of the universe, with three novels including flashbacks to her earlier life. After all, she’s the most popular character in this universe. It makes sense for her to anchor the new arc and show up in each of the novels in between. Only the final book died an inglorious death about 50 pages in.
The original outline – Outlines are the only way to pull this off – had a serious amount of POV bloat. I outlined a new version. Nope. Still POV bloat. I need to end this arc and move on to the next arc. What’s a poor boy to do?
Yeah. I wrote about a 10,000-word epilogue, knowing halfway through it was too long to use. I finished it anyway. Why? One of the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People™ states “Begin with the end in mind.” And I needed to know what would happen to all six (Well, now, seven) Children of Amargosa after Suicide departs. So I wrote out a scene for each of them, along with two scenes to completely enrage our main antagonist and reveal the ultimate fate of Suicide. (Spoiler alert: It’s a surprise!)
Then I began with the final chapter. And what a chapter! A funeral, a failed resurrection into a clone body, a captain doing what James T. Kirk should have done after the Enterprise came home (Spoiler alert: There’s no Enteprise in this. It’s not Star Trek.), the remnant of a powerful AI making trouble, and a male pregnancy. There’s a female pregnancy, but that’s because the mother is not human and needs a surrogate. Alien species aside, not even Lifetime Movie material anymore, but good character development.
Once I had my final chapter, I asked myself how they got there. The chapter had to be written in POVs other than Suicide’s. Since JT and Davra anchor the original Amargosa Trilogy, they are the reader’s eyes and ears in this. So, it’s their responses to the climax that we see. But before that?
This book has the working title Suicide Solution, so naturally, at least half the chapters have to be from Suicide’s POV.
Is this easier? No. But it’s what the story calls for, and for once, outlining has failed. It’s not an indictment of plotting when one could pants. It’s just a case where neither in the traditional sense is possible.