Happy Tuesday, folks, and Happy Valentine’s Day! Are you doing anything special with your loved one/s? Hubby and I will be going away for the weekend on Friday, and I can’t wait… I digress, however.
Really, Doris, you do surprise us, I can hear you all groan now but bear with me.
Kacey wrote an excellent post on writing the first book in a series here. I found myself nodding along to a lot she said. In particular the many series on the go—I haven’t dared count how many series I’ve got—only a handful of which are completed in my mind.
*points to muse standing in the naughty corner*
That same muse rolled her eyes and stuck her fingers in her ears singing tralalalalala when it came to the mention of planning a series, character sheets etc.
Oh, believe me, I know that’s an excellent idea and when I find myself searching through previous stories in a series to make sure I’ve got the eye color right for that obscure character, I sure wish I’d at least written that down somewhere, but….you guessed it.
I never do. In my muse’s defense, she does usually remember these details because she will not let me tell anyone’s story until she’s figured this all out in her head, and throws the words at me. Or more accurately bombards me with it in my dreams, so that I have to get up the next day and start writing that story.
I’ve had two series, where I knew how many books were going to be in it. Two, out of thirteen. (Yes, I had to go and count them)
Out of those two, only one I managed to write one after the other, and that was after a long gap between book one and two.
I’m sure it must drive my readers round the proverbial bend, this tendency of mine to flit between series and standalones. It does my head in at times, because the one series I managed to write in order….oh yes, that is so much easier.
Alas, us writerly types are slaves to our muses, and heaven help us when we don’t do as we are told. A muse in a sulky strop is no fun, I tell you. I’ve been there on a few occasions and the outcome is not pretty.
So, how then do you write a series when you’re a panster like me?
Well, you wing it, of course.
That’s all well and good, Doris, I hear you say, but how is that helpful.
Okay, I’ll try and explain my haphazard process. Bear in mind this is the way my mind works and it may well not work for you at all, but here goes.
When it comes to the start of any series, they all have one thing in common. I have no idea at the start of writing that this story will evolve into a series. I simply write, and as the world builds and side characters step forward, I usually get the first inkling that, hang on a minute, this person needs a story, and ooh, I like this world, and what if…
Told you this was going to be jumbled post.
Sometimes the potential for a series doesn’t dawn on me until I get edits. I recall one occasion where my editor commented how much she was enjoying that world and what a shame that it wasn’t a series. So we came up with a series name and that was another series born.
In the vast majority of cases, it comes to me as I’m writing, however.
I’ve learned to listen to that insistent niggle and create a series, even when I have no earthly idea how many stories will be in that series.
I’ve just finished book six of a series like that. The first one was a fun little Romance on the Go story. As far as I was concerned that’s all it was going to be. Then, some time later, I got the idea for a bear shifter story, and as I was writing it, the best friend of the heroine in that little, fun, story I wrote turned out to be the roommate of the heroine, whose story I was writing now.
Then came that lightbulb moment, and the rest is history. Like I said, I’ve just submitted book six in that series, and while I have no idea how many more books there will be, I know there will be more.
Again, I hear you ask, how can that possibly work?
Well, if you’re a panster, then you already know the answer to that question. You simply trust in your characters and it all somehow comes together. One of the great joys of writing a series is revisiting previous characters. That little glimpse into their HEA which makes me grin and gels them altogether.
This is where your world building comes in and your timeline. You will quite often find me being vague on things like children’s ages because of that timeline again…
If that heroine was pregnant three books ago, and the events in that series run continuously then she can’t have a baby in this book.
For me, at least, it’s fun to work out these little details, even if I do have to read back, and try and work it all out.
(Yes, I know character sheets would be such a good idea here!)
Really, if you can manage it, then do keep and use them. Do as I say not as I do in this case. 🙂
However, if you can’t, if your process seems completely counterproductive and time-consuming and you have no idea how it will ever work… As long as it does work, keep doing it. This is your process and don’t ever let anyone tell you it doesn’t.
This is, after all, what we’re trying to do here on the Naughty Quills. Give you pointers to help you find your own way.
Hence these jumbled thoughts of mine, because that’s the way I work, and I bet I’m not the only one like this.
I should add here that all my series can be read out of order, as each individual book is a standalone set in that series.
I’m sure I’ve completely confuzzled you all now, as we say in my house. Sorry about that, folks. Welcome to my world.
That’s all from me today, you’ll be pleased to hear.
Do stay naughty, won’t you?