I already have a fairly detailed synopsis for Book 2 and a sketchy one for Book 3 (which both went out on submission with the manuscript for Book 1 -- and I hope to announce exciting news about that soon -- probably in September) but before I got too far into the second book, I wanted to stop and do a little brainstorming.
If you read this blog often you might know that I can hate brainstorming my own stories with other people. But this "hate" is really only true if I'm not ready for input yet. I like to have the basic world/plot/characters, and the overall kind of story I want to tell, firm in my mind before I let other people into my brain. Probably because the two people I brainstorm with most often are AWESOME at story ideas and I end up feeling as if their ideas are better than mine, or things head off in the direction of the books they'd write given the same idea, not the book I'd write... And then I start emitting "back off" vibes and they shut down... and little brainstorming happens... (And we drink instead, which is good, too...)
Anyway... Monday night we did a little brainstorming for my Book 2 and 3 and it was pretty awesome. I already had a 10 + page synopsis for one and a 5+ page one for the other... so really it wasn't about coming up with stories, it was about making them better. Adding some surprises. Taking out the weak/obvious choices and plot points, most of which were the first things that came to mind when I wrote the synopses (very quickly) (under pressure) before we sent the manuscript to
Anyway, one of the coolest moments for me (because I'm a total craft nerd, okay: nerd nerd) was when I realized one of the ideas we came up with, or an epiphany I had during our discussion, fit so well with Michael Hauge's Identity to Essence character arc method.
Now, he teaches it in the context of a single story (screenplay or novel) but what I realized was that it was (hopefully) going to fit for me across the three book story arc with one particular bit of her character growth.
If you've never heard Michael Hauge speak, or read one of his books, or bought one of his DVD's => DO! Now!! Here's a handy link. Writing Screenplays That Sell
But in a nutshell, the identity to essence concept is that over the course of a story, a character moves from who they think they are/how they see themselves (their identity), to their true selves (their essence). And the truly changed character emerges when the identity and essence meld. (At least I think that's what he says... This isn't sounding right to me now. If I'm wrong, I don't want to know right now, because I'm still high on my epiphany.)
Okay, I broke down and looked it up. I was merging Michael Hauge's Identity/Essence concept with the late Blake Snyder's Thesis/Antithesis/Synthesis concept. Or what he calls the thematic progression of the hero's journey. (Blake Snyder's Save The Cat!. Go buy it. Now!!!) Actually, I think my epiphany fits even better with Snyder's verbiage, so I'll go with that. ;)
What I realized that while each of my books has an internal character arc itself (I hope), the overall trilogy will have one, too. Yay! In the first book, the protagonist, Glory, completely defines herself by one particular trait (a power she has). Which could be defined as her "identity", but it's also the "Thesis" in terms of this overall trilogy character arc. It's who she believes she is and for that particular trait, she pretty much still believes that trait defines her throughout Book 1.
In the second book, she'll have rejected her identity, that is: she'll be doing all she can do deny that she's defined by that trait (power) and she'll be essentially rejecting/denying it. So, to use Snyder's terms, this will be her antithesis stage -- which I think will continue on into the early parts of Book 3.
Then, I hope, during the course of the third book, she'll find the balance and be in her "essence", to use Hauge's term, or she'll find Synthesis to use Snyder's. To quote him, "...the hero gains the knowledge to combine what was and its opposite to form a synthesis of everything he has learned." (See why I think Snyder's works better? Because it merges the two... And she can learn she can be both her identity and her essence... or that her identity doesn't completely define her...)
I don't know why this got me so excited. But sometimes it helps
Will this hold up as I write books 2 and 3? Who knows. Ask me again in a month when I'm neck deep in my first draft and whining about how hard it is to write a book. Because you know I will. ;)