The funny thing is that the situation that created the snafu is the reason I created the series to begin with. How is that for ironic? 😛
Okay, so here’s the setup I was going for in this series.
Years ago I had this idea for a psychological thriller where a detective marries a woman who he begins to believe killed her first husband. When I realized I had written myself into a corner in the story, I trashed it. Then a couple of years later I was talking about this idea with my author friend Stephannie Beman, and she and I started a co-written historical western romance loosely based on the idea. It had morphed quite a bit, actually, from the original concept. Things didn’t work out with the co-written stuff, and I did buy the rights to the stuff we had worked on because I liked the setup she and I created.
The basic premise turned into a situation where a man was betrothed to a woman, but he jilted her before the wedding because he resented being forced into the marriage by their parents. So the parents arrange for her to marry his younger brother instead, and the younger brother was mean to her. So mean, in fact, that the hero could be suspicious that she killed the brother in order to get rid of him. And he goes about trying to prove she did it.
Anyway, I thought, “That setup could work in the Regency world.” So I created the Marriage by Obligation Series. Only, I needed to set things up for the hero to come back (after running off to avoid marriage) in Books 1 and 2 in the series. So I brainstormed and came up with ideas for Books 1 and 2 to set the stage for Book 3. Book 3 is the book where the hero returns.
This is how the original 3 books looked:
As I’ve been writing Book 1, which is Secret Admirer, I have developed other characters that have given me ideas for two more books that will fit into the series. These characters, whether I was aware of it or not while writing them into this series, has prompted the fate of the jilted heroine to go in another direction. I am no longer interested in writing about a hero who has to make amends for ditching the heroine at the altar and then having to return to make things right with her. I’d rather have her end up with someone else. And I’m thinking Lord Wright (the widower with a daughter who had a bad first marriage) could be perfect for her. I like the setup I have for Lord Wright. I’ve decided his story will be Book 3 in this series now.
I also want to finally write Reuben St. George’s story, which I’m now slotting for Book 4 in this series.
So what happens to the original Book 3 (The Duke’s Return)?
I’m not sure what to do about The Duke’s Return yet. I can write him out if the setup in Secret Admirer or Midnight Wedding (Book 2) has no space for him. Or I can let him “slip” out into sight to never been seen again. Or I could have him return, perhaps injured and a recluse, to be paired up with someone else. I do have a slot for a lady I brought into Secret Admirer that is open. I had thought to pair her up with someone else in another series, but she might work with this hero who resented being forced into a marriage.
I’ll have to keep writing to figure out the right direction to take. All I know is that Book 3’s original idea is getting trashed. I honestly don’t know how plotters do it. What if the idea suddenly gets boring? What on earth do you do? Do you go back to the drawing board and re-plot the whole series? If I had taken the time to work through all the ins-and-outs of these three books ahead of time, I would be upset with the time that I would have wasted. I might go slower while writing a book because there are times when I have to step away from the computer to mull over what happens next, but at least that time is spent on exercise, cleaning the house, with family/friends, non-writing tasks that have to do with my books, or something else that is productive. I didn’t use that time on a story/series that had to be thrown out. I get that plotters think pansters are nuts for not having a plan, but honestly, I’d much rather do it my way. My way offers flexibility to change things at a moment’s notice without committing time and effort into a story line or a series arc that fell apart.
So anyway, I’ll figure something out, and if I have to make this a 4-book series instead of a 5-book series, that is fine. I just want to work on stories that I am passionate about writing. Life is too short to stick with an idea that no longer excites me. I’m going to revisit the historical western Stephannie and I worked on and see if that is a better way to tackle the original idea I had. All I know is that it doesn’t fit in the Regency world. It might have to be in a setting that is more “westerny” where you can get into the nitty gritty stuff you can’t tackle in Regencies.
In the meantime, I have tentatively placed The Duke’s Return at the very end of this series. So at the moment, this is what the series arrangement looks like: