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Friday, September 27, 2013

A series? Love 'em? Leave em? What works? And why?

Book 1, KIBL
Building WORLDS is a Herculean task. And that exactly is what writing a series is.
Creating not only characters, but towns, communities of people, families perhaps, but groups of friends and most of all some sort of tie that allows them to stay together.
This is no mean feat.
It does require thought, databases, and an overriding arc of conflict!
Be careful, therefore, when you create—and when you read these! Dangers lie ahead.
How do you cope?
Book 2 KIBL
From the start, I recommend you keep all the following:
1. A database of your characters, main and not, names with dates of birth, hair and eye color, height, weight, any descriptives of body and psychological characteristics, too. Their major personality flaw and yes, their internal conflict. Yes, you forget!

2. A file of geographical descriptives, including photos to help you remember.

3. A list of references, online as well as in your own personal library, with page numbers if you must have them for future reference!  There is nothing like "knowing" a fact and realizing after you have gone to print that no, indeed, you mis-remembered that puppy.
Historical Prequel
to KIBL

4. A list of types of scenes so that you do not have the same type of act occurring in one book and then recurring in another. Examples:
Abduction anyone?
Gun fights, wrestling?
Any scene that is distinctive...and which your readers will become bored reading once again, only with different people this time!
Notice I did not list such scenes as kissing, love scenes, arguments. These are part and parcel of fiction, especially romance.

5. For any specific type of fiction, do yourself a favor and build a reference library on that issue. Why? You need to be as accurate about your details of murdering someone, as you do about geography and context of time and place.
Readers appreciate it and sales depend on it.
I will illustrate: I buy A LOT of books. Recently, I read one by a new NYT achiever. Her works were tauter and I bought one. Well, never again. I happen to know quite a bit about the place and the subject she took on in her novel and let me just say that by page 40 or so, she and I were done done done. She continues to be a NYT bestseller, but she will never sell another book to me.
Why?
She did not honor me...and thousands of others just like me (this is no small town I lived in nor was the subject one that is obscure) will never darken her door again.
And so now, for the proof that I might know what I speak of, I have written all these series:

My Regency series, The Stanhope Challenge, buy links at Amazon
My medieval series, Swords of Passion, buy links at Amazon:

My contemporary western BDSM series, KNIGHTS IN BLACK LEATHER, buy links at Amazon:





5 comments:

Tina Donahue said...

Awesome post, Cerise! Writing a series is murder. You're so right about keeping tabs on what you've said before so you don't keep repeating yourself. Trying to keep all the characters straight in your mind (and in the readers') is a herculean task.

You spelled it out so well, and your advise is priceless. Thanks!

Tina Donahue said...

I meant advice, not advise. It's early. :)

jean hart stewart said...

Great blog...I write in series and didn't know enough to keep enough notes.. Sometimes have to scramble to know just who is who!!! I've currently got a great conflict going but haven't figured out a new way to solve it....

Fiona McGier said...

I never start out with the intent to write a series. But once I finish a book, the supporting characters start getting noisy and demanding their time in the sun...that's how I've ended up working on my third series right now. But as long as the stories keep coming, I'm happy!

Fran Lee said...

Aw, Cerise, baby! Nothing better than guys in tight black leather...or buckskin...or nothing at all...OOOOO