Book series are so much a thing…the thing? Something. People want characters’ stories to continue, they want to live in a world longer than the span of one book.
We love series! LOVE THEM!
I mean…Harry Potter…
So, many authors are writing them.
When I wrote DOORS, oh so many years ago, I wrote it as a stand alone. I wrote it because at the time being a new author meant the chances of having a series published was zero to none.
“At the time” means before self-publishing was a choice, before the big publishers closed to unagented queries, before small presses had grabbed their piece of the novel pie, before Twitter, and back when querying meant a letter on a piece of paper (ah, snail mail) and a SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope, for those who don’t speak the language of long ago).
I began my writing journey with a series, one that had been rolling around in my head for years.
I wrote three out of four books. I queried the first book (way too soon, but a mistake so many make, so many need to make) and as I waited, I researched this whole getting published thing (without the Internet help that exists now, without writer friends on Twitter, without a writing group…ugh, seriously the stone age). I read publishing books and took classes. First time authors were less likely to be signed with a series, publishers were not willing to risk that much on an unknown. Funny how different the publishing world is now…
So I wrote a stand alone.
But it wasn’t. The story wasn’t done. I had told the very beginning.
Book two is drafted and book three is very close to being drafted…like two or three chapters close! OH MY GOOD GRACIOUS PLEASE LET IT END SOON!
Book one is signed with Reuts Publishing and is waiting for its turn in the edit cave. Books two and three? We’ll see if Reuts wants them. Why write them if I don’t know? Because I needed to.
However, writing a series has been taxing. Frustrating. An adventure. Pure insanity. Writing this series has been one mighty big mess.
Because I didn’t have a series in mind when I wrote book one, I had no idea where the whole story was headed. As I scribbled notes and began writing book two, I had an idea of where the series would go.
But…well…I was wrong. I’m not sure when I realized this…somewhere in book two…somewhere in book three? Both? Yeah.
The story evolved into a beast. A beast with wonderful backstory, a lot of history. A massive tangle of emotions. A web of people and actions. When the Darkness showed up…it all went awry. In a good way! But awry. As I talked to characters, as I delved into the worldbuilding and the past…the story came to life.
And wow, I am exhausted. I am ready to have this thing drafted so it can go sit in a corner.
But I am wiser.
What I have learned from writing a series:
- Paging through books one and two searching for what you previously wrote is fun. Not incredibly tedious and frustrating. Nope. OKAY YES IT IS
- Continuity. Is. Hard.
- Be prepared to go back and change everything in book one to match what ended up happening. Be prepared to add things to book one for the same reason. (Sorry, Kisa…well, not change everything. BOOK ONE WILL BE FINE I SWEAR…IT WILL BE BETTER!)
- Get really good at making notes that say things like, “DID HE EVEN SAY THAT?” “WHAT DID HAPPEN THEN?” “WHAT DID THIS PLANET LOOK LIKE?” “GO BACK AND CHECK THIS CHECK THAT CHECK EVERYTHING.”
- The end is going to be quite different than I thought. THIS IS FINE. Go with the flow. Go with the story. To be honest, my story is much better now than it would have been.
- CONTINUITY. IS. IMPOSSIBLE. Did I say that already? Did I? This is my main struggle BECAUSE MY NOTES ARE A BIG MESSY PILE OF MESS.
- Never do this again. Okay, that’s a lie. I will do this again. What I hope to not do again is start a series without knowing, though controlling the voices in my head is not something I can…or even want…to do. The next project will be a series BUT I KNOW IT WILL BE. Knowing is half the battle. *gets my sword*
I cannot guarantee that my next series will be easier to write. I’ll still have a mess of notes, cause that’s how I roll. I’ll still open myself up to the possibility that I don’t know how it ends and will have to tweak the beginning to fit the surprise ending. Though this next series won’t take place on a million different worlds. So there’s that.
I learned so much. The best thing I discovered, was that I can do it. All the things that have to be changed, tweaked, or added will be done. Revisions are where the miracles happen. First, I need a break to untangle my brain from the web of everything.
Want to write a series? Do it. Scared? Don’t be. Let the story talk to you. Let it evolve into everything it is supposed to be. And fix all the things in revisions.
With my entire series drafted it will be easier to fix. Because I KNOW WHAT HAPPENS NOW! OH GLORIOUS KNOWLEDGE!