Can I ask what defines a "trilogy's worth of arcs"? I always thought that roughly corresponded to wordcount, but your wordcount-per-trilogy has halved from ~650k (Elantris, Mistborn 1, Warbreaker) to ~325k (Mistborn 1.5, Stormlight-without-interludes, Reckoners) so I must have that wrong... but I'm not sure why that's wrong.
I plot these like a trilogy each. The entire [Reckoners] trilogy, for example, is shorter than the way of kings. I plot a book of Stormlight using similar (though not exactly the same) methods as I use in building a series of other books.
What does "like a trilogy" mean? Or is there somewhere you'd recommend I go to learn more? From my uneducated perspective, "like a trilogy" means "long, lots of stuff happens, three books".
Well, what makes a book for me is usually an arc for a character mixed with a plot arc. Often multiple plot arcs and character arcs. It is less "stuff happens" and more "stuff happens for a reason, building to pivotal moments or discoveries." My YouTube writing lectures might help explain better. Look for the ones on plotting.
I think I understand...maybe...
- "Arc" is point-to-point, be it for a character or a plot. Length-in-wordcount isn't relevant, difference between points is.
- The difference in wordcount isn't a matter of "arcs" being shorter, it's a matter of there being fewer not-tightly-arc-related words, similar to how stand-up comics tighten up routines.
Do I have that right?
Yup. You've got it. Though often, the difference in a longer book is the number of arcs. For example, in Mistborn, Vin has multiple arcs. (Learning to be part of a crew, training to use the magic, practicing to join high society, falling in love, and learning to trust again.) Those are mixed with a large number of plot arcs. A shorter book might have a character with a more straightforward, single or double arc.
My first encounter with the term "story arc" was from J Michael Straczynski talking about Babylon 5 in explaining how it was plotted.
The term to me invokes a visual of tracing an arc across the sky from left to right, symbolizing the journey of an overarching plot or narrative to its conclusion.
Brandon was using trilogy with respect to the Mistborn series until Shadows of Self got away from him and became two books bumping the total to four :-).
That's almost right. I wrote Alloy of Law as a stand alone test of the new era. I liked it, so I plotted a trilogy to go alongside it. I ended up writing Bands of Mourning before Shadows of Self for various reasons, but it isn't that Shadows of Self got turned into two books. Those were always two very different books in the outline.
The point where things expanded was after I tried out Alloy of Law, liked it, and decided to do more books with the characters.