Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Wicked Wednesday - writing a series

Many paranormal romances these days are series. They're the most popular. The fans are hungry for them, like ravenous vampires. Goodness knows I love them. I read them and write them. Yet it's important to remember a few things when starting to write a series.

First off, does your idea need more than one book? It has to be a pretty dang big idea. Don't stretch out something that could fit into one book. You'll bore your readers. Examples: each book in the series could have different narrators, or you could follow the protagonist through vampire slaying school going year by year.

Every book must be able to stand-alone. It must have a story that is unto itself, but then make a strong connection to the overall story of the series. It can get tricky, because you want to have an amazing story within each book but you want to take away from the overall story.

Give yourself a lot of wiggle room. This is in case you carry on the series longer than expected or if you have to end it sooner than you thought.

You don't have to do all your world building in the first book. That's the nice thing about writing series. You can start small and expand on your world as you go along.

Finally, make sure you're ready for the commitment. Writing a series can take years. Are you willing to devote that much time to one world? To a couple of characters? Know yourself. Know what kind of writer you are. IF you jump from idea to idea, a series isn't for you.

Do you enjoy reading series? Do you write stand-alone novels or series?

27 comments:

  1. SO true... though sometimes writing one book can take years:) I always tend to find as I write new subplots always make themselves known, allowing for expansion if the occasion should arise:)

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    1. I know what you mean! My subplots do that too. Tricky little devils!

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  2. Making each book stand on its own is easy when you never planned on writing a series!

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  3. I agree about the stand alone. If the first book or 3rd is okay, why would they keep reading?

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    1. Exactly. You want to sweep your reader off their feet with every book.

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  4. This is making me crazy. I have two books written in a three book series. First book mediocre at best. Second book rocks. Can't bring myself to go back and 'fix' first book. Tempted to go with second book as a stand alone. Ideas?

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    1. You could do it. Just work in a bit of the backstory from the first novel into the second.

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  5. I've just finished writing a fantasy short story, it doesn't deal with vampires so I suppose it's doomed to be a failure :). Vampires seem to be the new black :)), isn't it Christine?

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    1. Oh oh! No vamps?! Well, as long as there's some other paranormal creature involved. Hehehe! ;)

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    2. People have been telling me for the last 10 years (or is it 20?) that vampires have become trite. I ignore them.

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  6. I'm really more of a stand alone book reader. I haven't found many series that sustain my interest over the course of two or three books, so I now choose books that wrap things up between one set of covers.

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    1. I like shorter series, but there's a few that I love that have gone on for a long time. A trilogy is the perfect size for me.

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  7. Coming from a background in television drama series, I'd say a lot of the same kinds of rules apply to books. One key thing: keep a "bible"--a notebook of key information about characters and places so you don't contradict yourself later. And yes, don't describe your world ad nauseam. Tell only as much as you need when you need to, and even better: show! And assume your audience/readers are smart enough to understand without a lengthy explanation.

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    1. Great tips! I think a lot of writers forget how smart their readers are.

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  8. i like the idea of a book that goes on---i love your idea about different narrators!

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    1. Thanks! Sometimes when we're reading really good books, we want them to go on forever!

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  9. I used to like series books growing up, but now I like stand alone novels as well. I think as an author, it's helpful to have a series to increase sales.

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    1. I think in today's market, series do help a lot.

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  10. good points. I have stories that need to be a series because of all the questions that need answering (don't feel like writing or reading a 700 page book), and books that are stand alones because the questions can easily be answered in one book.

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    1. Thanks! Sometimes it's difficult to determine the size of an idea, but once you do, you know if it's a stand-alone or a series.

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  11. I've never written a series, but I have the inkling of an idea for one in the back of my mind. I appreciate your tips. :)

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    1. Thanks! Good luck if you want to write that series. I'd like to write a stand-alone, but all my ideas get too big!

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  12. My book needs sequels. I got kind of out of control with my idea. But I shall endeavor to make every book able to stand alone!

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  13. I can write either. Although my mind seems wired for more than one and tries to make up a sequel for most of my stories (even the ones I'm not even part way through). ^_^
    There's mostly no m ore than two, the exception is my paranormal: it's three novellas.

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    1. I tend to work in trilogies too. It seems like the magic number for me!

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