1. CoyoteKing

    CoyoteKing Good Boi Contributor

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    Tips on Writing a Series?

    Discussion in 'By Writing Form' started by CoyoteKing, Dec 5, 2017.

    It’s a broad question, I know.

    I’m writing a couple of different series. I’m somewhere between an outliner and a pantser and I struggle plotting the whole thing out. I get too invested, want it to last forever, but at the same time, I’m never totally sure where I’m going.

    The series I’m writing is the kind of series like Twilight: a romance series where each books focuses on the same couple (“Edward” and “Bella”).

    Any tips?
     
  2. PixelOwl

    PixelOwl Member

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    Oh gosh, as someone who loves creating long-spanning works about billions of characters, my main advice is to keep thorough notes about everything, but especially about your cast. Makes sure you sketch out all the relationship trees and love/hate triangles/dodecahedrons, which may involve literally sketching them out from time to time for clarity. Also, I'm more of an outliner, but even if you're pantsing you can jot down key events as they're happening, to keep track of who promised what, when, and why.

    I'd also keep a list of names handy, like, ones that would fit in your setting, in case you need a random side character to fill some role you didn't realize would come up. Maybe also a list of plot ideas/twists for when you get stuck. Prepping a list beforehand makes it easier to keep your creative flow going in the middle of a session(Actually, now that I type this I realize this is good advice for any novel, really. Huh.).
     
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  3. Trish

    Trish Damned if I do and damned if I don't Contributor

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    If it was me (I tend to write series with different characters in each) I would figure out where my end is for the last book (them getting married? Having a kid? Moving to Paris?) then work backwards in my head, just thoughts, for where I need to start to get it there. Each one needs to end on a HFN so you'd have to think of things you can work in and leave that can pop up later to disrupt the happy couple (ex's, death in the family, job on the other side of the country, finding out one of them is in the CIA). That's really it though. I don't plan though, hardly at all, so I would just be doing it on the fly. I do tend to jot down important things as I go though, like @PixelOwl has suggested.
     
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  4. LostThePlot

    LostThePlot Naysmith Contributor

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    I think that's pretty much the right way to go about it. Or at least have a clear idea of why you want to write a series for this world or characters. I don't think just really liking these characters is a good enough reason, you need to be building up to something that is really significant and that is a huge deal. I can totally understand the desire to just stay with a set of characters or within a world, but I think that in general you shouldn't be writing just to write; you should never just be going out looking for things for them to do now.

    I wrote two trilogies as my first projects (ever ambitious ;)). The first one was a bad idea. It wasn't conceived as a series, it was just the only book I'd written and I loved the characters and I wanted to keep writing about their relationship but it became contrived quickly. When you are just looking for ways to up the ante then it gets stupid and quickly. The seconds one was much better. I had a huge brain melting emotional moment that I was absolutely certain that I wanted to write that would be the crux of the second book. The first book builds the relationship up to that point and pushes them out into the real world, the second book is built around one huge explosion, the third book is where they get their shit together and get married and so forth. That one worked well for me, although I will say that I was struggling to find a satisfying conflict for the female lead in the last book; she's just happy by then. The guy (who is much younger, and also she brought him up) is still a young man and even as he's found himself there's a lot for him to do in that book, more external conflicts for him to deal with and so I think it held together.

    So have a clear idea what each book is doing and why you need to write them. Know where it's going. Because if you try to just write and hope you can put together something interesting then you'll end up with a gordian knot of contrivances to get them where you want them to be, or just running towards a cliff edge with no idea how to get down from it.
     
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  5. crappycabbage

    crappycabbage Member

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    I think I heard Brandon Sanderson say that if you plan out your whole series you need one big story arc spanning the whole series, and then an arc for each book so that they all end in a satisfying way for the reader. It sure make sense to me, because I don't like reading series where the first book ends just as the adventure begins. I reckon the Harry Potter-series managed the separate book-arcs very well. Good luck! :)
     
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  6. LostThePlot

    LostThePlot Naysmith Contributor

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    I agree with you on that; each book needs to stand alone as it's own adventure too. I think the reason why the Potter books were successful is because they had that school term structure to define the length of the book. That I think is a good thing to have. Maybe not quite so regimented but giving each book it's own discrete space to work in and designing a story to fit inside that bounds is a good idea. And I wouldn't advise doing a book 1 as an origin story of any sort. In medias res. The first book is what is going to sell the rest of them, so you need to make it something that really kicks ass.
     
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  7. CoyoteKing

    CoyoteKing Good Boi Contributor

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    The more that I think about this, the more I realize.

    I think the problem is that I DON’T have an overarching plot, and I DON’T know where I want them to end up.

    I know things that happen. Hero #1 leaves the mob, Hero #2 becomes a successful comedian... they get married and eventually adopt a snarky ten-year-old.

    There’s loads of little conflicts but no over-arching problem they constantly face.

    I need to think more about this.
     
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  8. LostThePlot

    LostThePlot Naysmith Contributor

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    It doesn't necessarily need to be one single thread that ties it all together. Some things can be done more as "The Episodic Adventures Of Bob" but that needs some other structure. Think Sherlock Holmes and James Bond; each book is one single caper drawn together by the fact that we know by the nature of their work there will always be another adventure to come. So you could potentially think about that. For someone leaving the mob; if he's perhaps in witness protection or has turned states evidence then that might work as a plot thread that will stay with him forever. Or if he's become someone who is a vigilante and goes after criminals, or has become a cop or PI or something where that background will be relevent to his life going on that'll be ok.

    But even in these cases where you wouldn't need a metaplot you do have the continuing problem of series writing, the old writers maxim: "Is this the most interesting period in these characters lives? No? So why aren't you telling us about that?". And, as I've learned from experience, the second that your characters are kinda settling into life that's the end of an interesting life for them. Not in an absolute sense. But in the sense that it's not really worth writing books about them anymore. The first series I wrote ended up in kinda the same place. The girl and the guy sort their shit out, they acquire an adopted kid and from then on, well, they are ok. Even if they have future adventures they no longer have internal conflicts, it's all them against the world which I think isn't anything like as satisfying. That's the same thing that happened in the second series too. It was only half of the last book, but having the woman feeling very happy and comfortable and settling into a groove there wasn't a whole lot for her to do anymore.
     
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  9. orangefire

    orangefire Active Member

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    My personal opinion is that what you described sounds like a good first book right there. I'd have the other books happen after.

    That had some interesting possibilities to tie things together. The mob isn't known for letting people just hand in a two-weeks notice.
     
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  10. Trish

    Trish Damned if I do and damned if I don't Contributor

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    Sure there is. Book 1 - Hero #1 leaves mob, Hero #2 becomes a successful comedian. Leaving the mob is hard. Lots of conflict and drama, ending with them getting engaged (HFN).

    Book 2 - Hero #1 and Hero #2 are planning their wedding, Hero #1 is trying to figure out what to do with his life because he gave up all he's ever known. Hero #2 is doing great, and Hero #1 is having trouble dealing with feeling like he's not pulling his weight. Planning a wedding is stressful. But in the end, they pull it all together, they have their wedding and all seems well. (HFN)

    Book 3 - Hero #1 and Hero #2 are married, have settled most of the stuff from book 2, but then they get this snarky 10 year old kid who creates all kinds of upheaval in their lives and oh fuck - did you know that the mob doesn't really like it when you leave? They're back now too, and it's not just Hero #1 and #2 dealing with it, now they have to worry about snarky kid who is always getting into shit they shouldn't be and Hero #2's popularity and career make it really hard to hide from the mob. But they eventually manage it somehow and now they're a happy little family of 3. (HEA)

    Just off the top of my head - I don't see any reason why something like this wouldn't work?
     
  11. LostThePlot

    LostThePlot Naysmith Contributor

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    If that wedding doesn't end in a Kill Bill style mob-murder-spree in the church then this series has failed to deliver :p
     
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  12. CoyoteKing

    CoyoteKing Good Boi Contributor

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    Y’all are fucking great. This is helping a ton.

    Yeah, the mob thing does end up being a major conflict. He winds up getting a hit man sent after him.

    It does make more sense as an episodic series. I’ve never done that before, though. Maybe that’s why I’m struggling. Past series were trilogy type things heading towards a firm goal. This is more like “the sexy illegal adventures of a former con man and a sleazy comedian.”
     
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  13. LostThePlot

    LostThePlot Naysmith Contributor

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    Oh that sounds awesome.

    Just have them jump from town to town trying to make an honest living with mob always on their heels. You can definitely have their wedding (obviously in Vagas) be the crux of one book, especially trying to have a bachelor party with the mob on your tail sounds like that could be a lot of fun. And then as the comedian starts to get big the con man is fretting because he can't really be drawn out into the public, but what is he going to do stay on the run forever? And then bam shot dead by Murder Inc during the comedians first TV special :)
     
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  14. Trish

    Trish Damned if I do and damned if I don't Contributor

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    Sounds great to me!
     
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  15. CoyoteKing

    CoyoteKing Good Boi Contributor

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    It’s a fake wedding. Hero #1 decides to stage a fake wedding to tempt the mob out of hiding, figuring they will make an appearance.

    His entire family finds out and thinks it’s a real wedding, and they’re so fucking happy for him because they LOVE his boyfriend. So all of them — drug dealers, con men, pickpockets, politicians, and used car salesmen — show up. A hit man comes to kill the hero mid ceremony. There’s fake deaths, real deaths, and several angry aunts with guns.

    At the end, he finds out his “fake” fiancé deliberately brought a real marriage certificate and now they’re actually married.

    It’s a good book.
     
  16. Trish

    Trish Damned if I do and damned if I don't Contributor

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    Fuck yeah, it is! Sign me up to read if needed :D
     
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  17. LostThePlot

    LostThePlot Naysmith Contributor

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    Bam, best seller :D Write it right this second or I'm stealing it ;)
     

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