Happy Friday everyone! Casey here. I’m thrilled to have Frankie Robertson return as our guest today. Take it away Frankie!~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Thank you, Casey, for inviting me to post here today!
I didn’t set out to write three series at the same time. I didn’t even set out to write one. At present, I’ve just published FORBIDDEN TALENTS, the 2nd book of the Vinlanders’ Saga; LIGHTBRINGER, book one of the Celestial Affairs series is out; and BETRAYED BY TRUST, the first of the two TRUST books is waiting to be revised. Scattering your efforts like this is not the best way to build a following!
When I wrote DANGEROUS TALENTS I was stretching my wings. I’d written a partial novel before and several short stories. With DANGEROUS TALENTS I was giving the long form another try. It took me a year to finish Celia and Dahleven’s story, and another six months to revise it. And while I was submitting and collecting very polite rejections, my critique partners were nudging me, “Tell us a story about Ragni, Dahleven’s brother.”
That’s the problem with creating complex worlds and interesting secondary characters. People want to know more about them.
At the time, writing a sequel to an unsold book was not considered a smart move, but I didn’t have anything else in mind, so I did as they asked and began writing FORBIDDEN TALENTS. I didn’t want to ignore the main characters from the first book, though, so I decided to weave Celia and Dahleven’s continuing story into Ragni and Saeun’s romance. Now I had four POV characters and two main plot lines.
That’s where I ran into trouble. I got almost halfway into the book and ground to a halt. Writing stopped feeling good, but I was too inexperienced to understand what was wrong. I was also too stubborn to work on something else. I just kept banging my head against that wall trying to make it work, and the story kept saying, NO. Finally, somebody, somewhere said something that made the light go on. I wasn’t thrilled with what I saw. I had taken a serious wrong turn in chapter two and I needed to rewrite the first 200 pages, completely excising a really neat character in the process.
You’ve heard the saying, “Kill your darlings”? That’s what I had to do. But after I committed charactercide, the story fell into place. Writing became a joy again, and in the fullness of time FORBIDDEN TALENTS was complete and revised.
DANGEROUS TALENTS and FORBIDDEN TALENTS are long books, as you might expect romantic fantasies set in another world to be. How did I keep everything straight? I kept a folder of loose notes of character names and descriptions (later a computer file), and a calendar to keep track of what was happening to which character, when. And I had really good critique partners. Even so, my fabulous editor Rochelle French at Edits that Rock still caught a few discrepancies.
I stumbled into writing the Celestial Affairs series in a similarly accidental way, by writing a secondary character into LIGHTBRINGER that folks wanted to know more about. And when I started writing BETRAYED BY TRUST, I thought it was a standalone book, too. Wrong.
It turns out these were fortuitous mistakes.
Writing a series, especially as an indie author, is good for business. The readers who love your characters will come back for more, and the folks who discover you through the 2nd or 5th or 32nd book in the series will go back to look for the first.
If you decide to commit series, I have a few suggestions:
- Keep a “bible” of characters including their backgrounds, appearance, and relationships to other characters, and their involvement in major events.
- Use a calendar to keep your timeline straight.
- If you’re writing a closed end series (not just connected novels), create an arc from the outset instead of figuring it out in the middle — the way I am.
- If you have control over your covers, make sure they reflect the tone and genre of your book, and that they look connected to each other through fonts and composition.
- It’s also important to make each book stand on its own so your readers aren’t frustrated by a cliff-hanger while you finish the next book.
- And unless you write really fast, it’s probably better to write just one series at a time. Do as I say, not as I do.
Frankie Robertson can’t seem to stop herself from writing paranormal romance and romantic fantasy series. She lives with her husband in the desert southwest where her backyard is visited by bunnies, quail, hawks, and bobcats. If you want to know more about what Frankie is up to, please visit her website: http://FrankieRobertson.com.
Thanks so much for being our guest today Frankie! If anyone has any questions or wants to share their method for creating a series, please jump in!