When I started the final book of my Crossroads trilogy, I had no idea how to wrap things up. I spent many days–weeks–researching the Iberian Peninsula (where my main character Xhosa now lived with her People) 850,000 years ago, hoping if I drenched myself in the setting, I’d understand the challenges my people faced.
It worked. The land–I found out–was not just challenging and primeval but life-threatening in ways I’d never imagined. What I envisioned as a peaceful settling of Xhosa and her People into their new life wasn’t. Not even close.
Here’s what I have done the past month:
- As I wrote Book 2 of the Crossroads trilogy (The Quest for Home), I took notes on plot threads that I had to resolve in Book 3. Unlike one-and-done novels (books not part of a trilogy), I have to tie up all the loose ends in this final book.
- I built these plot points into a very rough story arc–only plot, no setting or character development–to flesh out the bare bones.
- Then, I put this in a spreadsheet where I fleshed it out with characters, actions and reactions, a timeline (so I know when winter and summer arrive), POV character, and followed up on all the bits I needed to (for example, a character lost her hand and I wanted to show how that affected her later in the story). By the time that was done, I had about
100 200541 rows (in the spreadsheet). I moved that to a Word doc. It came out to about 258 double-spaced pages (61,000 ish words). After I cleaned it up a bit, here’s what that looked like:
- The transfer left a ton of unneeded tabs which I know will make a mess in my upload to Kindle (when that day arrives). So, I keep the document in Show-Hide so I can see paragraphs, spaces, and tabs. I deleted extra spaces and tabs. Here’s what that looks like:
- By this point, I know what’s going to happen in my story and it’s clear the old title–In the Footsteps of Giants–was no longer perfect. Two unexpected changes (mentioned in earlier updates) significantly changed the story. But, thankfully, a new title came to me as I was trying to sleep one night, 2:17 am I think: Against All Odds. When you read the book, I think you’ll agree it is perfect.
- This is supposed to be a trilogy but while drafting the final book, it didn’t work out that way. In fact, right now, it’s ending on a bit of a cliff hanger. I didn’t plan that, it just happened, as though these prehistoric folks whispered in my ear and in this case, Xhosa has more to say. As a result, I’m toying with the idea of a second trilogy that will follow the same group. Anyone ever done that?
- I’m way behind on NaNoWriMo. Hmm… I will have more to say on that in December.
- I’m thinking about doing Diana Peach’s PowerPoint book trailer idea but for the entire trilogy. Canva has great presentation templates, meaning they’ll do a lot of the creative heavy lifting, and then I can download it to PowerPoint and turn it into a video. I could release it when Book 3 is ready as background on Book 1 and 2 and to encourage readers to buy the early ones if they haven’t. Still pondering this one.
How are you doing on your latest WIP? I’d love to hear!
More on How I’m Doing
Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers, and the Man vs. Nature saga. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, blog webmaster, an Amazon Vine Voice, a columnist for NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Against All Odds, Winter 2020. You can find her tech ed books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning