Third Time’s the Charm – Right?

Alberta prarie farm - Bruce Witzel photo

Disappearing in Plain Sight, The Light Never Lies, Chasing Down the Night – there is something magical about a trilogy – think Lord of the Rings, The Hunger Games, the rule of threes, the Holy Trinity. The idea of threes is on my mind as I’ve just released my third novel in the Crater Lake Series. Yippee – a trilogy. That does have a nice ring to it. There is something very satisfying about having brought three full-length novels to completion and launched them into the world.

Write one book and it might simply be that I am a person with one book in me. Write two books and I might have gotten lucky. Write three books and … well … that has to say something. Even if that something only relates to my tenacity.

But whoa! Let’s get back to this whole trilogy thing for a minute. What if I’m not finished with the characters from Crater Lake? If I end up writing a fourth novel, I’m going to wreak havoc with that lovely trilogy thing – ruin the fenestration of my whole edifice. Four novels in a series – the very idea sounds clunky. I could just keep going. Write six books and end up with two trilogies. Twice as much has to be twice as good, right?

You now have had a scary peak into my current thought processes as I worry away at this issue like a dog with a bone. Since you’re already in my thoughts, I’ll share some more. As the third novel evolved, I knew it couldn’t be the last. I was getting used to the idea of letting go of the magical trilogy. In the back of my mind, I had planned one more book to wrap the story up. I’d even storyboarded ideas for that last book. Now, I’m not so sure about ending on book number four.

I’ve taken a lot of care introducing new characters in Chasing Down the Night. There’s Brigit, the feisty Cook and her adorable daughter, Tabby. And what about Nick, the handsome, financially strapped maker of numerous unwise relationship choices? If I move too quickly to end the series, I will short circuit any chance these characters might have to grow and evolve.

How do I deal with solving this pesky dilemma? Work on something else, of course.

I’ve been creating pages of notes for a future novel that will be entitled, The Jennerville Women’s Chamber of Commerce. The story revolves around five women who run businesses in a small town that has wholeheartedly embraced economic diversification to stave off dying away to nothing. The boom and bust cycles of logging had the town headed into decline. The town’s determination to market itself as a kitschy tourist destination has been taken to often hilarious limits. There are a couple of kids, a dog named Dumbledore and a ghost – friendly, of course. Think Comedy of Errors type romance joined to cozy mystery. Should be fun. At the very least, work on this helps me avoid thoughts of how many books it will take to logically end the Crater Lake Series.

Sculpture Square - Bruce Witzel photo

13 comments on “Third Time’s the Charm – Right?

  1. Congratulations, Fran! Three books is an achievement to be proud of. The project you’re currently brainstorming sounds interesting.
    Did Bruce take the top photo? It’s gorgeous!

    • Thanks, Jill. Yes, indeed – Bruce took the photo and as I was working on this post, I knew this particular shot had to be front and center. Rule of threes and all of that. He took this picture on our first trip across Canada – my first time to ever be on the prairies. Special memories, for sure.

  2. Behind the Story says:

    You are sooo full of ideas. Your head must be about to burst with all of them. Congratulations on your trilogy.

  3. Gwen Stephens says:

    I like the sound of this new book idea, Fran–very cutting edge with current economic issues. Of course you know I’m a fan of the Crater Lake gang, and you have to decide whether to leave the series at the trilogy or produce one more book, but I say go for the new one. I’d love to see your range.

    • This type of economic issue is close to the hearts of so many communities, isn’t it? Evolve or go the way of the dinosaurs it seems. I do think I have to explore some new characters for a bit, if only to keep fresh on the old ones – if that makes any sense. Oh Gwen – I can hardly wait to get Maelstrom out and see what you think.

      • Gwen Stephens says:

        Fran, I read through your post again and had another thought cross my mind that pertains to the new characters introduced in Book 3. I can understand your desire to not leave them or their respective story lines hanging without closure, so my thought was, what about a spin-off novel? One that focuses on a character or two that still have stories to tell, but that doesn’t necessarily extend or continue the Crater Lake trilogy?

        Here’s an example to illustrate my point: I enjoy Susan Wiggs’s Lakeshore Chronicles series (your books remind me a lot of these). In one of the books, a teenager named Daisy, a supporting character who was meant to be “just passing through” the series, apparently really resonated with Wiggs’s readers. They kept asking about Daisy — what happened to her? So Wiggs started exploring Daisy further, and sent her on her own journey some years later in a story called Marrying Daisy Bellamy. This is my favorite of the Lakeshore Chronicles series, even though it’s a spin-off, so to speak.

        As for your books, I’ve never let go of Reverend Dan. He’s got the right mix of good and bad that makes him a delicious, meaty character, and he really stayed with me. I don’t know these new characters yet, but they too might offer potential to launch their own stories.

        • Delicious ideas to ponder, Gwen 🙂 I’ve read books like the ones you describe – loosely linked to a larger story. So many possibilities. Many thanks for your thoughts.

  4. Huge congrats on the third book of the trilogy! I am excited to read them when time allows me. You must trust your instincts on this issue, and you have great instincts! My only word of advice, is don’t let yourself get sick of your characters! Your latest idea sounds wonderful as well. Best of luck with your decisions Francis.

    • I like the way you put that, Cleo – don’t let myself get sick of my own characters. So, a change is as good as a rest. I’ll explore the personalities of a few new people for a bit and see how I feel. Many thanks for the well wishes.

  5. Roy McCarthy says:

    Enjoying Book 3 Fran. Of course the series could run and run and readers would always look forward to them. But you’re right, I think, to explore other avenues to keep your own enthusiasm high.

    • Hi Roy – so glad you are into the book and liking it. You must know well that feeling of cutting edge excitement and relief to get the book out there and then the wondering – is it really any good? I’m exploring and ranging far and wide at the moment but I’m sure nothing will stop me from returning to the Crater Lake gang at some point.

  6. P. C. Zick says:

    Congratulations – can’t wait to read. And how wonderful you’re all set to go with the next phase. You’re amazing, Fran.

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