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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

My Writing Life - Writing a Series

Current Series

   I enjoy writing series and have strung all my previous books together into four different series. Some were created by plucking out a minor character and giving him or her their own book. Other books qualified for placement in a series by taking place in the same town or city. I assume a romance series can be created from almost anything, for example: from a family of sisters or brothers, to college buddies, from a town or setting, to people who are left-handed. Well, maybe not the last one. Almost any common ground can be the basis for a series. Now I am writing a totally different kind of series and it’s a new challenge.
    My current series, HOLLYWOOD HEARTS, is about people in the movie business. I planned this series out all at once with each book relating in some way to the book before. This is where the challenge comes in. I’m weaving characters and plots together from book to book. Men and women who play a small part in the preceding book, leave with a short cliffhanger about them– maybe in an epilogue –making the reader eager for the next book.

    I hadn’t planned to do it this way but could not use my usual way to tie my series books together: put a thousand words from the next book in the back of the previous book because these books were not all written before the series began. In fact, I’m still writing them.

    I also have to keep track of buildings, doormen, and other minor characters in each book, in case they reappear in subsequent books. I store that information in a special file. I have not had a problem with that before, but will have if I don’t do this.

    Another hurdle to clear with a series is making each story unique. Conflicts and obstacles my characters have to deal with in each book should be fresh. I mix up roles in the entertainment business plus include past relationships and other surprises to keep readers turning the pages. 

    It’s all about planning. Writing a series might be harder for a pantser. I’m a plotter so a series is in my comfort zone.  The plus side of series writing is that I know where I’m headed, at least the general direction, for each book before I begin. I also have a stable of supporting characters to call on. This makes the crafting of each story more fun.

    Right now I’m about a quarter of the way through with book four in the Hollywood Hearts series, called MOVIE LOVERS, and enjoying the work. But check in with me when I finish book six. At that point I may be gnashing my teeth and muttering, “Six-book series? Never again.” 
Would you undertake to write a series of 3+ books?


An Open Book said...

Whether a series is done based around a family or a town... I find series to be more of a draw for me. I like the connection I build as I read about the people and places.

As for keeping track of smaller characters, restaurant names, etc- having a special location for all this important information is crucial. Readers will take notice that the Sunset Grill was renamed in Chapter Two of book three instantly.
Great post Jean!

Lindsay said...

Being a series author also, in contemporary and regency, I can understand the difficulties faced.
Kudos for doing it so well.
Love your books

SherryGLoag said...

I guess you could call me an accidental series author, as after I finished, and even had the book published, secondary characters start demanding their spot in the limelight.
That is one of the drawbacks of being a pantser!
So - although I have written books in series they always come out as 'stand-alone-with-connections.'