The three-part structure has become entrenched in #sff. Even the sprawling, gigantic worlds are (sometimes) summarized as “read these three first,” or “these three are the best introduction to the world.” I have a list of 50 long-form #sff that serve as my benchmarks.
Many people advise new writers to begin with stories. Focus on getting through a story. Write one a week. Sell a good one. Move on from there to bigger stuff.
I have seven non-fiction books. I’m not really a new writer, so I think I can dive more deeply.
I tried to start with a three-book series. This gave me two layers of arcs. I can have short hero’s journeys for the Mage, and a longer hero’s journey for the Red Knight. This made a lot of sense for a few weeks.
A hero’s journey can be described in three acts: departing, initiation, and returning. The problem is the Red Knight’s back-story couldn't leak out quickly enough during the Mage’s first act.
Long exposition of the knight’s story diluted the mage’s story too much. Elements of the Red Knight’s story are relevant here and there. But there are also squires, too, who have their own story, and they tend to fill some gaps in the knight’s story. Indirectly.
And the knight doesn’t speak. So. There’s that complication in the story-telling, too. A squire sort-of speaks for the Red Knight. Of course, the Red Knight can be a jerk. You don’t keep a vow of silence without being a towering asshole about it.
Book IV rapidly became essential. The departure phase of a hero’s journey often involves a refusal, exposing this gave me a four-part arc for the Red Knight.
Today. I was reflecting on Squire Shaffron’s goals in Book III, I realized the Red Knight will not actually be able to “return” to society at the end of Book IV.
(And, I’m still vague on what the squire wants.)
The Red Knight is also an absolute asshole about Justice, and, so, well… Book V started to take shape. I think there’s a two-tier “return from the hero’s journey” in the Red Knight’s story. First, there’s a kind of return to the world embodied in Book IV, and then the knight drags the mage back into the world in Book V.