As Pitch Wars comes down to the final days and I have become Zen about my submission I made 6 weeks ago, there’s always the post-partum period for the hundreds and hundreds of writers that will not become mentees. Plus, as I have learned from other writers and participants, becoming a mentee—getting you an intensive 4 month cycle of edits with a published pro or agent—is not the gold ticket to representation that many think it is.
Of course, just the process of spiffing up your submission for entry makes a better manuscript and no matter what happens when the mentees are announced October 10, I’ll keep pitching it on its own merit. The Fifth Circle is a great book.
But last night and this morning I was also thinking about attacking the “first in a series” problem with Volume 1 that plagues many series. The first book is almost invariably “set-up” no matter how it’s structured or executed. And, by their nature, set-up books have their own canon you cannot ignore. For example, you can’t drop readers into the deep end and expect them to swim without giving them some prescriptive instruction along the way, commonly known, as who the fuck are these people, where did they come from, and what the hell is going on?
Another, more insidious way of attacking this problem is to jump past the series altogether, write a kick ass standalone book with a subset or offshoot set of characters from the series. If it gets sold and does well, then you have a whole series (5 books in all planned for The Fifth Circle) to sell as the main course.
So I started revisiting Tales From the Rim, which was intended to be a series of stories that takes place 25 years after the main action in The Fifth Circle. Nowhere near as fraught or dark, these lighter stories enable me to get even wackier with Titus—now on the run from his responsibilities as dragonmaster—and Jaka, a young orphan who is street smart, and has a willingness to kill with her liquid nitrogen cartridged crossbow quarrels. Travelling around the seedier edge of the Domains, they take commissions in bringing bad guys to justice or—oops!—to accidental death, while constantly fighting for and against each other.
I’ve decided to start posting concept vignettes in the search for the one killer story that may become that 6th book on the other side of the series. Comments are totally welcome, and I’ll be adding more and more ideas over the coming months. Enjoy!