So, you have an idea for a trilogy or series. Awesome! Writing a series can be a lot of fun. I mean, who doesn’t want to spend more time with their characters and worlds? But many aspiring writers aren’t sure where to start, and writing a series is a lot of work. With these three steps, though, it might be a little easier than you think.
1. Determine the arc for the series—and each book
This step is important for your series whether or not your books will be standalones or need to be read in order. Each book should have an arc (and don’t forget that every character in your series should have an arc, too). On top of that, your overall series should have an arc. This means each book is building up to something by itself and working together to build up to something bigger. One easy way to do this is to consider your “sub-genre.” Maybe your first book of your paranormal romance trilogy will be a mystery (Who is the villain?), while your second book will be a thriller (We have to run from the villain!) and your last book will be your adventure (We have to go after the villain!). This method ensures each book brings something new to the series, while also working through an overall arc (in the example’s case, defeating the villain). Again, this is only one method, but you can mix and match to study your series and determine if you are keeping your books fresh and exciting but also unified.
2. Keep Notes
Consistency is SO important. You might think you know your characters from top to bottom, but chances are, you don’t. We’re only human. We can only remember so much, and as your cast grows and changes, it gets harder and harder to remember every little detail. That being said, you must remain consistent throughout each book. You wouldn’t want a side character who is allergic to chocolate in book one to eat chocolate ice cream in book five. Same goes for scenes. If you’ve said a door was to the right, it better be to the right in the other books, too. Personally, I keep a file on places and characters, and I create an overall timeline. What’s a timeline? This tracks years before and during the books. This means if I have a character who says she broke her leg at five years old in book one, she says she was five in book three, not nine. Another file I keep is a summary of what was told to each character in previous chapters so I know what my characters know from scene to scene. It seems easy to remember, and it might be for some, but sometimes, we have to go work on something else or step away for a few months, and it can be hard to remember when you return. Keeping notes is never a bad idea.
3. Be Open
Writing a series is hard, even with a plan. But don’t fret! We all know that writers aren’t completely in charge of their characters, worlds, or ideas. Sometimes, the protagonist throws a curve ball, and everything changes. That’s okay! Think of writing a series like a road trip: You know where you’re starting, you probably know where it’s going to end, and you might have places you want to visit in between. But there might be some surprises along the way. Embrace them, and keep going. That’s where the fun is. And don’t give up! Following your dream is worth it, even if you have to rewrite that dream a couple of times along the way.
Original posted September 5, 2013
In this article, I discuss lessons I learned while writing my first two trilogies.
A new review came in for November Snow! “Truly, Thompson has done an incredible job here of story weaving. Just wonderful. Don’t underestimate your need for tissues here people, don’t do it. Prepare yourself with tissues and a cuddly stuffed animal.” – Babbling Books (Seriously, listen to her advice. Tissues will come in handy.)
This week, Catelyn’s Story released on the FREE Bad Bloods Prequel on Wattpad. This is also the first origin story seen from the Southern Flock’s perspective. They formed later than the Northern Flock, so from now on, you’ll see stories flip back and forth between the two flocks. If you ever wondered why the groups of bad bloods are called flocks, this origin story explains why! In Bad Bloods, Catelyn is Serena’s best friend. Here is a preview: The girl was pretty enough for plenty of crimes. Read her story by clicking the link.
Pre-Order Bad Bloods
November Rain, Part One, releases July 18, 2016
Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, Smashwords, Goodreads
November Snow, Part Two, releases July 25, 2016
7 thoughts on “#MondayBlogs: Writing Tips for a Trilogy or Series”
These are really good tips for series. I’m still wrapping my head around my own series and trying to answer many of the questions you raise.
I write a lot in scrivnr and use many of it’s planning functions to organize my thoughts of series. I also like your idea for a timeline. I found that this helped me write my stand alone story and see the help it will be for a whole series.
Thanks for your blog post.
I’m so glad you enjoyed this post. It sounds like you’re on your way to writing an awesome series! Thank you for reading and commenting.
I agree with Alina! Such useful tips are hard to come by
So glad you enjoyed it, too! Thank you for reading and commenting!
#2 is definitely important. Many readers will pick out any mistake in continuity like they’re drawn to it. I actually began creating ‘carry over’ files when I moved on to the next book in a series. These are chunks of other books with descriptions and information that I know will carry over. This helps me keep my cities, monsters, and characters straight, especially with such a long series.
Exactly! It’s so important, and there are a million ways to take notes and keep track of your work. Thank you for sharing your method. 😀