I knew that what would eventually become The Black Ring was going to be big, and would have to be divided into volumes for ease of publication. But because of my experiences with writing a series, I decided to plan out all five Books at once. Each Book had a similar structure, of twenty chapters, which could be divided into parts or sections. For each chapter, there was a brief sketch of what was to be accomplished at the end, not how it started, or what might be happening. If I had only a beginning, or only an idea, I could too easily get lost and would not be able to finish. This had happened to me too many times before. But if I had an objective for each chapter, as when I had planned The Planet Masters, I would always know where I needed to go, no matter how much the chapter might wander along the way.
I wrote a rough draft of the first three parts of Book One, but I wasn’t really up to a project of that size, so I did some other things. Then Diane’s company sent us to England for almost three years. When we got back, I knew that I was now ready for The Black Ring, and I looked at those first chapters again.
They were very rough, so I rewrote parts one and two, turning them into much better first drafts. But I had lost the roughs of the chapters of part three. I couldn’t remember what had happened in them, but I knew from the sketches how they were supposed to end, so I wrote them from scratch, as if for the first time, just getting to what the original endings had been about.
Then I went on to part four. The writing was easy. The stories of each chapter just flowed out of the back of my head. I finished Book One and started Book Two. And though it also had twenty chapters, it would be all one part