Writing a stand-alone or beginning a series… what do you picture at the starting point?
With NaNoWriMo in full swing, I wondered how many of us writers sit down and have full intention of composing a series, or is it merely a case of the story growing larger that we first intended, leading us to subsequent volumes?
It is a bit of a mix with me (as art and the creative process always is). I remember starting my Smoulder series with every intention of it being a trilogy. I had the story of my Firestarter mapped out. But upon reviewing, I completely changed the direction of the plot and added in a whole lot more, afraid it was being too generic… and a four book story line emerged. You could put all of that down to a little self-doubt and exposure to countless reading hours of YA. I think my reading habits (market research) helped me identify major plot problems before I got too deep into the writing process.
The For keeps duology was initially one book, but fears that it would end up being a mammoth book and not lucrative for a budding author, I split it in to two volumes. It was fairly easy – There is definitely a break in the middle of the story where things change in context and was perfect tone for a GLBT contemporary novel to end (and pick up with a second instalment). As it was my first attempt at a completed novel (there had been MANY different books written beforehand but abandoned after 30 or so pages in), it needed the most work. It’s been re-written and edited to death! I’ve found that leaving it for 6 months and coming back with fresh eyes for a final edit to be the saving grace.
A science fiction series (LONERS) I started early last year popped into my head fully formed as a four-book series. It is structured a little differently to a traditional series, where either of the first three books can be read as stand-alone, companions, or out of order. That’s the beauty of sci-fi – you can mix things up a little. This experience has really flipped my attitude towards writing and made me realise that finishing a novel can be a quick, easy and rewarding experience. Or maybe that’s be buying into my own insanity :p
And finally, the re-boot trilogy started from a few scenes in my head, and evolved into three books… and I’ve yet to decide between one of two different directions this series could take.
And so… I had books that have grown into a series, and those I plotted that way from the outset. Additionally I have some titles which could quite easily become a series, but none of the characters have raised their voices with a desire to continue their adventure as yet.
I’m always amazed at creativity and how it just shows up.
Most of the time I simply just sit and write, no planning, just me and a blank page where I’ll scribe away for hours. Then, if it feels like something, I’ll go back, tidy it up, add to it, and eventually plot out a novel, or series. So, out of 23 concepted works in progress, only two were forecasted as a more than one book franchise.
I’m really great at organising things, and could quite easily plot out everything I write before a letter appears on the page, but find I lose my characters voice that way – and consequently, my passion for writing. Plus I like to keep the work malleable, open to change or exploring other arcs. The debut in the For keeps duology deviated into a major arc that added so much to the story (and how it came about to be a duology) that I’m greatful I let the story stray from my initial imagining.
Who knows if what I’m writing is any good or makes any sense – but the point is: I have to write. I write for me. To be entertained, to escape, to laugh, to vent (and the list goes on…)
And I’ve committed to the decision to give this writing thing a professional go.
I guess everyone’s process is different, but I simply wanted to share mine and am interested to learn of other author’s process. How do you write a series? Do you need some major brainstorming before beginning, or does it just happen?
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