Writing a Book Trilogy
A guest feature by author Danie Ware
Trilogies are a big thing to take on. Any boy (or girl) answering the call of a prophecy and stamping across a continent needs a whole rack of stuff to help them on their way. Quite apart from the obvious things – elderly guide, love interest, comedy sidekick, looming dark enemy that’s not going to manage to kick their butt – they need the more complex things – a political backdrop, the threat of war, and a whole cast of fang-bearing beasties waiting to chomp them for tea…
Okay, fantasy isn’t that simple, nor trilogies that easy. It’s good to have a strong plot-thread, don’t get me wrong, but pulling together enough inspiration for world creation, social structure, economics, magic system – and enough narrative progress and variety to spin those things out over three hundred thousand words or more – that takes a lot of research and knowledge, and a lot of detail.
I confess: I had it easy.
Ecko’s inspiration came from years of role-playing – any gamers out there, I’m sure you’ve spotted the references. The worlds that he occupies were created in a glory of youthful energy, in shared backgrounds and storylines, in days (and nights) where all we had to do was indulge our own creativity. During my twenties, I tried to weave this into writing, ending up with a half-a-million words of absolute waffle – but the lessons it taught were invaluable. The creativity is essential, vibrantly necessary – but there’s more to constructing a narrative than just throwing ideas at the page. It has to be tempered, and structured. Character arcs and political subplots have to interweave with the main storyline… you can’t just hurl it and hope.
Whatever you write, though, never throw it away. Just for the record.
For all the planning in the world, though, sometimes the greatest breakthroughs happen when you’re not expecting them. You can have moments of genius when you’re in the bath, or out for a walk; or moments when a character with a carefully plotted learning curve goes ‘no, stuff this, I’m doing it my way’. And sometimes those unexpected curveballs become the best things in the book. Certainly in Endgame, there are a couple of totally unanticipated scenes that were written in a single draft, and just left me breathless with their suitability. It almost felt like the character had made the choice, not me.
Inspiration is great. Ideas jump at you out of the dark – and frequently at the most inopportune times (I carry a notebook with me everywhere). The hard work comes when you sit down with your ExCel spreadsheet (or other preferred method) and systematically weave those ideas into a tapestry. And hopefully, by the time your boy/girl has toughed up and slain the Meganasty, everything around them has grown and learned and changed just as they have.
I had a lot of plot threads to tie up in Endgame, and a lot of characters reaching their penultimate moments. It took some effort, but all of that hard work was very well worth it.
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The epic genre-bending SFF Ecko trilogy from Danie Ware concludes this November: will series anti-hero Ecko be able to overcome his fears one last time and save the world from extinction before it’s too late?
Featuring a gleefully cynical lead protagonist, the Ecko series burst on to bookshelves in 2012 with Ecko Rising to great critical applause and has continued to snowball into a contemporary cult classic of the genre scene ever since. After awakening in a dimension-jumping inn to find himself immersed in his own sardonic fantasy world, Ecko is forced to face up to his own deepest fears in order to save mankind; the Ecko trilogy is the blistering (mis)adventure of the world’s most belligerent hero.
Now in the series’ stunning conclusion, Ecko Endgame, winter has come to the Varchinde – and with it, the fatal spread of the blight. The grass is dead, and the plains’ cities are falling to the loss of crops and trade.
This is the moment for the Kas to take their chance to rise from Rammouthe. Overmatched, betrayed and abandoned by his own forces, Rhan takes the ultimate gamble – he will abandon Fhaveon to lure the Kas into a final confrontation.
But the world’s memory is returning. And, as the battle rages round him, Ecko begins to realise that everything they have done has been for a purpose. If they can fit the pieces together, then they might just win the war.
Yet, even if they do defeat the Kas, the blight is still there. And to save both the Varchinde and himself, Ecko must face the worst fear of all – the one that has come from his own world.
Originally conceived as a role-playing game, the Ecko series is riotous, time-hopping adventure, packed full of cult genre references – if you haven’t discovered Ecko and his exploits yet now is the right time to do so.
Danie Ware runs the social media profile of cult retailer Forbidden Planet, and has organised their signings and events calendar for more than a decade. She went to an all-boys school, studied English Literature at UEA in Norwich, then joined a Viking re-enactment group and spent many years fighting, writing and rolling dice. These days, she lives in South London and spends her time with her son, in the gym, or making up for missing the battlefield by writing epic stories about it.
ECKO ENDGAME by Danie Ware is available in paperback and ebook format now.