Sunday, January 8, 2017

Planning a series the right way

The first thing I learned when creating the American Journey series was that writing a series was much different than writing a single novel. I had to observe different rules and plan much further into the future or run the risk of painting myself into a corner.

Having more or less cobbled together the Northwest Passage series around a few common themes, I tried to do better with the AJ series. The result, I think, was a better collection, one that comes to a conclusion with the release of Hannah’s Moon in February.

Now, as I consider yet another series, I’m faced with the same challenges. How do I map out three or more books that meet the minimum requirements of a compelling collection of fiction? One way is to look to others for guidance. One of the best resources is online.

Now Novel’s How to Write a Series is filled with commonsense advice that every author should take to heart. The writer’s group, which offers a course and resources for budding novelists, advises authors to avoid eight specific mistakes when crafting a series. Its guide stresses continuity, consistency, and openness to change.

These tips resonated with me. When I plotted the American Journey series in 2014, I knew how it would begin and end but not how it would develop. The order of the books was left open every step of the way. Even as I followed a fairly tight script, I wanted flexibility.

I will take the same approach when I create my next series. Set initially in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, in 1888, the collection of stories will revolve around five modern-day siblings, all young adults, who search for their long-missing parents in the corridors of time.

I plan to begin the third series in June. In the meantime, I hope to put the second series to bed and convert The Mirror and Indiana Belle to audio. All three projects should be finished by the end of April.

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