When I was pregnant in 2007 and my hormones were all over the place, I began writing a story about an arranged marriage on a world where polyamory was the traditional norm. It was fun to explore and to figure out how the dynamics might work in such a situation. I decided that the honeymoon would be a carefully arranged week-long affair where each newlywed spends one day and night with each of their seven new spouses. On the eighth night, all are together.
Writing chronologically, even limiting it to one POV character, this meant seven ‘first time together’ sex scenes in close succession. Not necessarily a bad thing…
Then my brain decided to figure out how these character’s entire lives went. There were important incidents that wouldn’t make great stories on their own. The story about their arranged marriage wasn’t really a complete story either. The book went on the shelf, where it still sits today, unfinished.
Later, I started another story about a young woman who leaves her homeworld to come to this polyamorous planet. The society she grew up in is sexually repressive, punishing women for experiencing anything remotely sexual until she is married. It turned into a takeoff of The Story of O and, in my juvenile writer’s brain, I tried to incorporate every plot bunny or stray thought that popped into my head. It also went on the shelf, unfinished, even though I knew how she was going to get her Happily Ever After.
I wrote other stories set on this planet, which I named Kingdom Come. Some were short, some were flash, some were longer. I even wrote other novels. I made a model of the planet, and later re-did it so it fit my stories. In 2010, I participated in my first NaNoWriMo, writing Dogs, Cats, and Allergies that topped out over 100,000 words. Finally, I thought I had my query-ready novel. I even wrote a query for it.
However, there were two major problems. First, there were too many characters. Of course, in polyamory, this is a given. But it can get confusing, especially if you have multiple POVs. Second, it took the reader into an unfamiliar world with no introduction whatsoever. It wasn’t a good ‘first book in the series’ and I do intend to write this as a series, hopefully for many years to come.
I dabbled with a few other stories that could be ‘the first’ but nothing really worked. Then, for NaNoWriMo 2013 I dusted off a story that I’d only written a thousand words on, and restarted it. That story became the duology of From Earth to Kingdom Come, and it’s perfect as an introduction to the world because it shows a woman from Earth coming to Kingdom Come and learning about the world’s customs, in particular about the romantic complications of polyamory.
So, what will become of those stories on the shelf? Do I throw them away?
Not necessarily. Dogs, Cats, and Allergies, for example, follows perfectly after From Earth to Kingdom Come. Another story that is finished, but on the shelf, is The Scar, which follows nicely after that.
I had a revelation after finishing the two books that comprise From Earth to Kingdom Come. These stories work well in mini-sets. This is similar to a historical romance writer who writes a set of five books, each centering on a different sibling as they each find their HEA (happily-ever-after.) The minor difference is, with polyamory you never know who or how many lovers will end up in a relationship. The major difference is that you don’t necessarily get a HEA in every single book. Each set delivers an emotionally satisfying ending, but book 1 might have A, B, & C start a romance with D, E, & F, but in the end B & D don’t get along. However, it is still a complete story, with characters going through a life transition or finding out something about themselves. In another story in the same set, C & F might get back together in a new combination.
I know that the Kingdom Come novels will reach a culmination point that loosely ties many of the stories and characters together. It involves this bit of flash I wrote several years ago, call The World is Not Blue. But the series doesn’t have to end there.
Some of the stories I’ve written will never see the light of day, and that is exactly as it should be. But even those stories have great worth. I couldn’t have written From Earth to Kingdom Come without first writing the stories that took me through the worldbuilding that is necessary when writing plausible Science Fiction. Although the Kingdom Come stories center on relationships and romance, they are solidly SciFi in that they are an extrapolation of trends in our known universe, exploring how certain distinct changes and differences in both technology and culture affect the humans who participate in that universe.