Writing is an odd thing at the best of times and there are occasions where what you're working on turns round and just tells you that you've got stuff wrong.
In the past few weeks I've had one of those turns of events. The novel I've been working on, tinkering on, whatever you want to call it (the important thing I think is that its still unfinished) for ooh the past two years turned around and made it known that the amount of space I'd allocated to create it wasn't enough and it needed to be at least double the length. Now, bearing in mind that it's already 150,000 words, that really means I've got a trilogy on my hands.
Part of this has been because I realised that there were plot threads that were just not going to get to a good place if I stuck with one book; in fact I wasn't giving myself space to explore all the pieces I had in place thoroughly. That didn't satisfy me as a writer, so I guess that the reader would find it frustrating as well. The other issue was that the plot I have, which is essentially a conspiracy/rebellion story, didn't feel like a one book deal and the more I thought about it the less it felt like something that I should think of as a 'do this book and come back to write different plots in the same setting' sort of deal. Once you have that sort of story in place, anything that follows it is probably going to feel disappointing - like starting off with the end of the world and then spending a book talking about the aftermath (I can see this working in some places but not in horror/science fantasy which is the niche that I'm working in for this story). Like it or not most fantasy series that consist of single book stories escalate the threats over time, allowing the heroes to grow to meet the threats more effectively. They don't start with a chance of Ragnarok.
So, a trilogy it is then. The lines are drawn, boundaries set. I know where the volumes end and I think I have about half of each book, although there's going to have to be some extensive rewriting. I even have names; to be specific the name I have for it at present is the Tantalus Trilogy, after Eve suggested the name this morning. Tantalus was a figure trapped in Tartarus in Greek myth after he tried to serve his son up to the gods as a meal, it seems an appropriate description for the more powerful members of my society. I'm still working on the individual book names but the original title, "A Fatal Thirst" is definitely going to be book one. I suspect the others will follow that line.
Of course the other thing that's great and annoying at the same time is that allowing myself a larger canvas to work with means I start thinking about things in a slightly different way. New connections are drawn as I start to work out the other stories that weave through the larger narrative. Suddenly I realise that of course one character will be doing x and y and that as a result z will happen and another, more independent line of story springs to life. Elsewhere I note that another character's desire for recognition means I have to show that they're treated shabbily by their peers and another section of book is born. This is good, because I need these sections but also fills me with trepidation because it feels like I have a long way to go and because it feels as if I'll never finish the damn thing. In a sense I'm really hoping that this is it and I can complete the first volume by the end of the year. That probably means my Facebook break needs to extend until at least the start of 2014, which is good or bad, depending on how you look at it.
When I started Fatal Thirst for NaNoWriMo I was pretty much pantsing it and that's something that's pretty much continued. Now, I can see the patterns and things I need to add so I can put into the story to complete it. I can see the plots I need to integrate to make it a satisfying read - so that's my challenge for the near future and my priority.