As I’ve mentioned before, PROJECT SERAPHIM had originally been planned as a standalone novel. A very gargantuan novel that rivals many tomes. But my stubborn side refused to have it any other way, even when published authors had advised me against it. I had no major reason for it, other than convincing myself that it just was not necessary.
But when did I start to have second thoughts? What made me decide to throw in the proverbial towel and write a series?
It was after I had committed myself to dividing my sci-fi/horror tome into a duology — two books — that reality smacked me in the face.
One of the problems that I have with Seraphim Ascent is, although I am very much proud of what it has become now, it’s hard for me to take anything from it out of context. Because when I am dedicated to writing only two novels that are restricted to a smaller word count each, I had a lot of story that I want to tell. A lot of story that didn’t leave much room for anything else.
When I say I have trouble taking sections of Seraphim Ascent out of context, I mean it’s hard for me to find scenes that aren’t related to the plot. These things are necessary when picking out samples to read to people who have not yet been integrated into your story. My problem was that I’d been so drilled under this unwavering rule that you must to remove scenes that don’t propel the plot in any way that I sacrificed this equally necessary thing called character development, and character development doesn’t always have to be a turning tide in the plot. Every book has them, but I myself was afraid of filler scenes.
A member from my writing group called them “sunset moments”. These are moments where the characters in the story have a chance to interact intimately with each other. They’re not talking about the conflict in the overarching plot, but a moment where they share something poignant, maybe even soul-searching. I realized that by restricting myself to one, two, or even three books, I’m all the same sabotaging my chances at these sunset moments that I so much wanted for my characters. I wanted to explore relationships between them, allow them to bond and grow for reasons that aren’t related to the ongoing fight. I wanted that sunset.
Soon as I knew what I wanted, I no longer felt confined by this idea that every scene had to count. I allowed myself to explore relationships for the sake of the relationship, not to always engage the plot. I learned things about my characters that I had no idea before through their sunsets. Now, I am free to take various paths without worrying about my word count, because if I don’t get to it in one book, I’ll always have material to put into another. And that, I have realized, is what is so beautiful about writing a series.
Part of my revelation, and what solidified my decision to make PROJECT SERAPHIM into a series, actually came to me in a dream. In this dream, I had found Rey in a setting outside of the main plot. How did she get there? Why? I wanted to know. So I started writing out notes, which turned into an outline for a whole new novel. Before long, my creative process had brought me down this winding avenue that soon lengthened the story. By then I was about ,000 90words into the second Seraphim book, only to discover that it was all trash. All of it. I had to scrap it, because what I then had was the second novel to a duology, not the second installment to an entire series.
Is it for everyone, writing a whole series? Absolutely not. If you have a story that fits well within a number, then go for it. For me, I’m grateful to be able to spend more time with my characters, to get to know them in ways I never imagined when I had finished the very first draft back in high school.
While Seraphim Ascent is a novel that I am proud of, as I am finishing the second book and outlining future installments, I find myself more enriched because the characters are talking to me, and I am letting them tell their own stories. I’m happier because I have let go of this notion that I need to hold back on character development because they don’t always “further the plot”, and just take a moment to take in the beauty of those sunsets.