Sunday, November 6, 2011

Writing a Series

When I began writing Finding Sara (The Wild Rose Press), I did not intend it to be the first book in a series. Somewhere along the way—I don’t remember exactly when—I decided to make Finding Sara the first of a trilogy.

The second book, Loving Rose, has now been published. I’m working on the third and last one, Marrying Molly.

It’s been an interesting experience. There are many things to take into consideration as you go along. You’re concentrating on the story at hand, but you’re also keeping in mind what you can include that will pave the way for the next book.

One thing you need to determine is exactly how you will tie the books together so that the term “series” will apply.

An obvious way is to have secondary characters in the first book be the main characters in the second book, and so on. In Finding Sara, rancher Jackson Phillips’ sister, Rose, had already broken up with Dr. Mike Mahoney when the story opens. Keeping the reason for their breakup a secret (I didn’t know it at the time, anyway) and having them remain apart during Finding Sara provided the basic plot for the next book, Loving Rose.

Sometimes, the characters who star in the books are related to one another, as is the case with Jackson Phillips and his sister, Rose. But sometimes, they are not. Molly Hensen, the star of the third story, Marrying Molly, is not related to Jackson and Rose, but she is “like family.” The seeds for her story are planted in Book 1. In Book 2, events occur that form the basic plot for Marrying Molly.

Other story elements, such as, setting, themes, and conflicts, may also help to tie books together as a series. These elements will be the subjects of future blogs.

I’d love to hear your opinions and ideas about series. If you’re a writer, what prompted you to write a series? How many books are there? What ties the stories together? If you’re a reader rather than a writer, what do you look for when choosing a series to follow?

Leave a comment and I’ll enter your name in a drawing for a print copy of Loving Rose. The drawing will close on Friday, November 11, 2011.

13 comments:

Liz Flaherty said...

I love reading series--though my interest usually wanes after three or four--but am thoroughly intimidated by the idea of writing one! I love your titles, though, and intend to add ROSE to my TBR on my trusty Kindle.

Linda Hope Lee said...

Liz,

Thanks for your comments. I think you've made a good point for writers to consider--deciding when to say good-bye to a series.

Linda

Laurie Ryan said...

My second story became a sequel of the first. I found I wasn't ready to let go of the characters and it allowed me to expand on my pirate, whom I was a little bit in love with, I think. :) So I'd have to say that, so far, my characters determine series or single story.

I love reading series and sequels from other authors, also. Again, it gives me a chance to spend more time with characters I enjoy. :)

Jacquie Rogers said...

I agree with Liz--you have awesome titles! I'm working on a series right now and it's a whole lot harder than it seems. Might need to come begging for advice. :)

Jacquie

Unknown said...

I love writing, and reading, series! It's a great way to stay connected with the characters and their friends. I love to see their emotional growth and the progression of the relationships the stories are based upon. Personally, three is a good number and then I like to see a bit of a twist or shake-up either in the characters or the setting.

Great post! Thanks for getting my grey matter working, Linda.

Calisa Rhose said...

I have a series going that started out as one full length book. One of the secondary (brothers in more ways than biological) started talking before I finished the story and now his story is turning in to bk #2. So far that one story is shaping into at least four books. Frustrating in that all the key elements were meant for the one heroine and now I have to divide and flesh our so much more for the other heroines to share. Each can be a stand alone, but in the end, by the last book, they really won't be. Hard to explain without saying too much, but you'll have to take my word for it. When they are finished you won't want to miss one. I hope.

Linda Hope Lee said...

Laurie,

I know what you mean about not being ready to let go of characters. Even though I give them a happy ending, I sometimes ask myself, "Okay, what happened to them after that?"

Jackie,

We should brainstorm sometime about series writing. Or maybe it would be a good topic for an Evergreen program?

Unknown,

Yes, emotional growth is so important. And your mention of twists reminds me that a story needs surprises, too.

Calisa Rhose,

Wow, I'm in awe of your ambitious project! You've brought up a good point about each book being a stand alone. I wonder if most readers prefer that structure over the series in which each book stands alone except for a key factor that isn't revealed until the last book.

Rebecca J. Clark said...

Hi Linda! I'm currently writing my first series, and it's way harder than I thought it would be. Planing those little seeds and introducing those upcoming heroes/heroines in a way that will make my readers want to read their stories takes a lot of thought!

Rebecca J. Clark said...

I meant to say "planting" instead of "planing" LOL.

Also, I forgot to mention, I only like reading a 2-3 book series. I get bored with anything more than that.

Jennifer Wilck said...

My current WIP is the first in a series. My secondary characters from the first book (he's actually the antagonist in the first book, but redeems himself to become the hero in the second, and she's the sister of the heroine)are the main characters in the second. I'm planning on a six book series and the theme (romances set around 6 different Jewish holidays) will tie it together, providing it works. This is the first time I'm attempting a series and it's a lot harder than I thought! Good luck.

Linda Hope Lee said...

Rebecca,

I agree series can take a lot of thought--and time. Writing this trilogy has taken way longer than if I had written three separate books.

Jennifer,

Turning the antagonist into the hero of your second book sounds like a big challenge! Using holidays to tie the series together is a great idea. Thanks for sharing.

Kat Fort said...

Love it when there's a series. It allows your favorite characters to live on and on. I love writing. It's Ike science fiction, no one ever truly is gone in novels.

Linda Hope Lee said...

Kat,

Thanks for posting. I like your enthusiasm! Good luck with your writing.