I'm deep into the second novel now. Splitting the original story into three books was something that was hard to do, but needed to be done. The sheer length of the original online story stunned me when I downloaded it and compiled it (someone told me they thought it was only 300 pages long..uh..no).
The average novel is between 70,000 and 100,000 words. As The World Dies clocked in at almost 400,000. It was 1,600 pages long. To say I was shocked was an understatement. I tried to chop it into two books, but that didn't work. I ended up having to separate it into three books. I was surprised to find two naturally occurring breaks in the story, which made it easier to figure out where the books ended.
I know a few people complained that the whole story should have been one massive book, but the page count of the original is not available with the PoD I'm using. I'm reading a trade paperback right now that is about the size As The World Dies would have been in its entirety. It's unwieldy and annoying in size and the spine is already trying to tear apart. I can understand why Createspace has limits on page count.
As I was reviewing the original manuscript, I realized that I had three stories sitting right in front of me with very different themes for each part.
As The World Dies: The First Days deals with the first months of the outbreak and the desperation to build a safe place to live as the zombies take control of the world.
As The World Dies: Struggling to Survive (which I am working on now) examines how the survivors face new difficulties as their numbers increase and they try to build a new society in their safe haven. The threats from within become more obvious as the human bandits join the zombies as threats from without. This one is definitely heavy on the character development as the new society in the fort struggles to find its way. The action is still really good and I'm actually adding more to it.
As The World Dies: Siege is the darkest novel and the longest. The scope expands to include other survivors, threats from high places, and the themes of sacrifice and redemption comes into play.
As I work on the second novel, I'm wincing as I see plot lines getting all tangled up and needing some serious straightening out. I remember when I was writing this part of the story there was a lot going on in my personal life that kept me from writing as regularly as I had been. I can see where I screwed some things up royally. A whole chunk of plot never made it into the story though it had been in my head. I have just reached that point and I'm going to have to untangle the threads and weave the new scenes in. I felt a little frustrated when I realized how much I had screwed this segment up, but at least I can fix it now. That is one consolation of releasing the story as a trilogy, I can work on each novel separately and keep to the theme of that particular section.
By the time I'm done with the rewrites and revision of all three books, As The World Dies: The Complete Story is going to be even longer.
How do I know this? The first three chapters of As The World Dies: Fighting to Survive is all new material.