Blog title
Hey! I've moved. You'll be directed to my new blog in 3...2...1...

Ten Things I've Learned Writing a Series

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "Do the thing and you'll have the power." I've found that to be sound advice while writing the three books for my first published series. I feel like an Olympian with a gold medal. I've finished Book Three of The Ravensmoore Chronicles, Mystery of the Heart,  which releases January 2013. It's been an exhilarating, frustrating, hair-pulling, joyful experience.

1)  Don't count on having only one editor.
           I had a different editor for each novel.You're publishing house may work differently. This is a good question to ask before you sign on the dotted line. However, I learned a lot from all three of my editors.

2)  Beware if you write by the seat of your pants.
           That's me! I almost didn't make it through Chameleon, Book Two. I wrote this novel in scenes and I loved doing it that way but the time pressures got to me. It was through a lot of patience, blood, sweat, and tears and an incredible editor that I made it to, The End, with a smile on my face.  

3)  Beware if you plot yourself into a corner
           I spent a lot of time semi-plotting Book Three, Mystery of the Heart. I plotted myself into a difficult situation but found my way through it. It was time consuming, but I figured it out on my own.

4)  Be prepared to kill your darlings.
         It's true. I'm talking chapters. My editor for Book One cut about 25,000 words and eliminated my wedding scene at the end of the book. That hurt, but I accepted it. I think I'll eventually put that scene on my website for the curious.

5)  Keep track of everything
         You'd think this would be easy, a no-brainer. I lost track of names, eye color, ages, etc. Find a way that works for you. I'm now going to explore Scrivener and I did utilize Randy Ingermanson's Snow Flake method to some extent but found I couldn't quite be that detailed. I'm still exploring the best way for me to stay organized.

6)  Teaser chapters
          Write the first chapter of your next book in the series ahead of time. I didn't know I was going to have to do this and had to work hard to make it happen when I turned in Book One. I was prepared better when I had to have the teaser chapter ready at the end of Book Two.

7)  Reader Discussion Questions
          I hadn't even thought about this issue until recently. Book clubs might want these in your novels. I'll probably put discussion questions at the end of Book Three and I'll probably go back and put questions on my website for the first two novels.

8)  Know your limits.
          I've learned about the difficulties of writing while working full-time and coping with the unexpected. You will always need more time unless you're really experienced and know your abilities in this business. It's a learning curve as my agent Rachelle Gardner says and she is so right.

9)  Balancing writing, marketing, and social media, with your deadline.
          I think this is incredibly hard. You must help market your books and I enjoy doing this, but when you're trying to write your next novel, and do all that is going to help your novel be noticed in an oh so saturated market is, as we regency writers might say, beyond the pale. Just too much.

10) Be professional.
           No matter what happens be wise (I pray for the wisdom of Solomon). Keep your sense of humor and share your knowledge with others.  

There is so much more, little nuances that come into play. But if this is what you want with all your heart and soul you will find a way to do it. Do your best and trust God for the rest.

Are you considering a series? Got questions? Feel free to ask. I may not have the answer but someone else might. If you've written a series please share what you've learned along the way. 

I love this quote. So perfect for our struggles. "Flaming enthusiasm, backed up by horse sense and persistence, is the quality that most frequently makes for success." Dale Carnegie


  1. Love all your advice...especially about being "prepared to kill your darlings." All said was true and should be kept in mind. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Hi Allia,
    You know the old saying, "If I knew then what I know now." Writing well is a challenge. Writing a series for the first time is (as we regency authors might say), "Beyond the pale."

  3. Using a character sheet with each character's info on it has helped us. I know I've referred back to it several times to remember the color of the heroine's eyes and all the detail about our made up world. I keep it as a hard copy, which drives my hubby co-author crazy. He's a computer guy all the way who wants 2 and 3 windows open on the screen at a time. I'm always hitting the wrong button and closing the wrong screens.

  4. Oh, how funny, cdhersh. I can envision the clash between hard copy guru and computer geek now.I still struggle with keeping everything organized and hope to do that with an online tool eventuall through something like Scrivner.