What I’ve Learned Writing a Series

War Unicorn was published last fall with Books We Love. I loved (and hated) my characters enough to keep thinking about them, wanting to send them on more adventures. Hence: a series began.

I have two of five planned books in the series written, awaiting final editing and approval and release dates. I find the remaining three books harder and more complicated to write because of the additional people and places, but I must persevere.

What I’ve learned in writing a series:

1)      Characters – Keep the main characters consistent throughout; obviously, there will be additional characters thrown in the mix with each book, but keep your protagonist and main antagonist forefront;

2)      Plot – Not only does each individual story have its own arch with a satisfying endings, the entire series need to have an over-arching plot thread which makes sense; maps of the world, outlines of plots, family and other relationships trees also help here;

3)      Space your release dates (and therefore, finish writing each story) to keep your readers interested and not too far apart in time so they don’t forget who is who and what they want;

4)      Writing a series is a major commitment; if you begin one, don’t give up; set clear goals (if your editor doesn’t do it for you), and push through to see them accomplished.

5)      Keep on writing, and good luck to you.

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Are You Still Writing?

At a wedding dinner this past weekend, someone at my table asked me: “Are you still writing?” I responded quickly and without thought: “Always.”

In actuality, the month of May was an unusual off-writing month, except for some revisions. I was busy with three trips and a wedding weekend (12 hours), and included the Anniversary-BBQ weekend. Yet, I am always writing, even when it’s not working with the words of the story. A couple of examples:

During the outside rehearsal time when I was not needed, I took a walk with a boyfriend of one of the bridesmaids. He grew up in the Philippines. I grew up outside. I pointed out a mint plant, crushed and tasted it, pointed out the square stem and told him a story involving mint where I nearly died. I told him history, too, but mostly when I spoke (there was a lot of silently enjoying nature), it was about the land…about flora and fauna. On that walk I was a teacher, a storyteller, a writer in disguise.

Last month I drew and thought a lot about a large-scale map of my fantasy world, including lands and peoples not even incorporated into my tales. I find it interesting how the landscape can “make” a people. People living in milder climate next to a sea are a different sort from those  who live in the mountains with their warm days spent gathering enough food for their long and cold days. Desert dwellers. River folk. Animal farmers. Crop farmers. Each set of people are different, with the land forming who the people are.  I didn’t do much revisions, nor any raw writing at all this past month, but I was working on it, thinking about it, drawing it. That’s writing, too.

There was also new people interactions, which is always handy references for characterizations.

Am I still writing? Always. How about you?