Tag Archives: foreshadowing

#MondayBlogs: Writing Tips for a Trilogy or Series

4 Jul

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.

Writing Tips for a Trilogy or Series

Writing Tips for a Trilogy or Series

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.

~SAT

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.)

Catelyn's Story on Wattpad

Catelyn’s Story on Wattpad

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

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November Snow, Part Two, releases July 25, 2016

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“Serious” Writing

2 Nov

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I recently had a discussion with fellow writers about what constitutes “serious” writing or not. Personally, I think it comes down to the writer. I have plenty of stories written that I would not consider serious, but that’s because it isn’t serious to me. However, I understand when people discuss genres being “serious” or not, but I think that’s a different discussion completely.

Today, I’m focusing on why young-adult fiction (or any genre) is “serious” writing even if the topic is humorous or light reading.

Novels, no matter what genre they fall under, have more than just a story. There are motifs, themes, foreshadowing, symbolism, and aspects that many readers might not even catch the first time around. This is not to say a reader does not understand these things. Instead, I’m saying that there is a lot more to a novel than what it might seem at first, and I’m going to be using Minutes Before Sunset as my example. Minutes Before Sunset is a young-adult paranormal romance. By many standards, this may not be considered a “serious” genre, but, again, I’m talking about “serious” writing, not genres.

I’ll talk about why novels go beyond the story by use of symbolism, foreshadowing, themes, and an overall message. But, when I use Minutes Before Sunset, I will avoid spoilers by using only the opening scene, which is available online.)

Motifs/Themes:

Independence Day might seem like a holiday that simply worked with the story, but it was carefully thought-out. My characters lives are fated, and often, they do not feel like they own their own body, let alone their future. Having Independence Day as the opener is vital, but it’s also very important to realize this is Eric’s favorite holiday. This holiday represents freedom, independence, and a new future—everything that Eric Welborn does not have–but it also represents a huge theme and motif.

Symbolism:

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Returning to Independence Day: we see fireworks. We see Eric’s obsession with them. We see how a child sees them, as fascinating bursts of light among darkness. We hear Eric’s father call them “useless burst of fire.” This is a symbol. Minutes Before Sunset is based on the idea of Dark vs Light (except the roles are flipped: the dark is good, and the light is bad.) This tiny conversation is more than it seems. The fireworks, from Eric’s eyes, are hope, the only light in the dark life that he has. His father, however, sees all light as evil; hence why he calls the light useless. By showing this childhood perspective, we can see Eric’s naïve state, how he thinks before his life is tainted by fate. We see his relationship with the Dark and, ultimately, his father. We see why they will argue, even in the future. Eric, despite being born to the Dark, sees light as hope.

Other symbols in the first novel include the willow tree, Eric’s nightlight, and the car wrecks. Unfortunately, I can’t explain what they mean until after the trilogy is complete, but there was a plan. There is always a plan.

Foreshadowing

Foreshadowing is hard to explain when I promised to stay in only the beginning of the novel, but I’m going to try my best with the assistance of Read to Write Stories. Michael Noll got it right when he discussed the first time Eric discusses the hill called “Willow Tree Mountain.” Noll talks about how this little bit sets up the setting to explain why the people are ignorant—because they choose to be. They accept what they want to. You can read his piece here. But it basically points out exactly how certain people will act and think later on in the book. But if you’re interested in what this scene foreshadows, I’ll give you a little hint: it’s coming in Seconds Before Sunrise.

As you can see, one scene can hold more than just the scene of the story. Many writers spend hours making sure each scene goes beyond a simple event that pushes the plot forward. Novels, at first, might not seem complicated, but it’s when you study each chapter, each character and symbol, that you realize how much planning, writing, and editing went into the creation.

Writing is more than randomly selected words scrawling across a paper. It’s symbolic. It has foreshadowing, themes, and many other aspects that allow readers to connect with the emotional repercussions of the story. It takes a lot of preparation, and, to me, the amount of dedication a writer has makes any genre “serious.”

~SAT

P.S. I’m looking for bloggers to help me spread my cover reveal on December 1. If you’re interested in hosting the cover reveal on your blog, you’ll also be entered into a raffle to win a pre-release ebook of Seconds Before Sunrise. Please comment below or email me at shannonathompson@aol.com.

Writing Tips: Sequel, Trilogy, Series, etc.

5 Sep

Since my last posting, I’ve done a lot of thinking about what writing tips I’m going to share next. I knew one thing: I wanted to expand on issues I’ve learned recently through rewriting and editing A Timely Death trilogy. Then I realized I wanted to talk about that in general: series.

I only need eight more likes on my Facebook Author Page to hit 600 likes. Can you help me out?

I only need eight more likes on my Facebook Author Page to hit 600 likes. Can you help me out?

Lots of writers want to explore what it is like to write a series, but they seem to run in to two problems: 

1. Where to start

2. Where to end

I think these are really important things to consider before writing a series. I know many authors start off with one book and then stretch it in to more, but I think, if you can, you should plan the series before you start writing book one, because it will prevent later confusion and contradictions if you know where you are going. I learned this through my experiences with A Timely Death and other series I’ve written. My experiences have been very different, and I want to share two of them, hoping that they show a possible path for other writers to consider:

First Path: A Timely Death

What happened: I didn’t know where I was starting or ending. In fact, I wrote Seconds Before Sunrise (book 2) before Minutes Before Sunset (book 1.) This happened, because I realized book 2 couldn’t stand by itself. The world needed to be created first, so I went back. As I was writing book 1, I came up with book 3. Obviously, this was very unorganized, and I had to do a lot of rewriting, not only with the scenes, but the characters. It look me a very long time to get to know my characters, since I got to know them out of order. It caused a lot of confusion, and that made it difficult to add the necessary things, like foreshadowing, symbolism, motifs, etc.

What I learned: I tried to take on too much too quickly. I was so excited to start the book that I didn’t even realize I was planning it entirely wrong. I was too focused on one thing to see all of the other loopholes I’d missed. After dealing with all of the issues I created myself, I realized I had to plan–but not only plan. I needed to breathe between planning and writing, take a break to make sure I was planning the correct path. I also learned to take more breaks: a break between planning and writing, a break between writing and editing, a break between writing book 1 and book 2 and book 3, a break when I finished, etc. Take breaks.

Original covers for A Timely Death trilogy: sizes represent order in which they were written

Original covers for A Timely Death trilogy: sizes represent order in which they were written

Second Path: (I can’t release the name, but I will call it by the primary colors: Red (book 1) Blue (book 2) and Yellow (book 3)

What happened: I planned Red, Blue, and Yellow before I started writing all of them. I drew out the world, charted the characters, played around with ideas, and just rolled around in my mind for months before I wrote down a single word. Even when I started writing Red, I contemplated more ideas and little scenes for Blue and Yellow. The entire time I was filled with excitement instead of confusion. I was never mentally “out of breath.” I went from Red to Blue to Yellow with ease, knowing I had all my time to add the symbolism, foreshadowing, and excitement that I wanted.

What I learned: Planning allowed me to have more time to enjoy the actual writing time. I was never worried about where I was going next–even if I was surprised by a sudden turn. This may seem like a contradiction, because I said to plan everything, but I must remind everyone of a little theory I live by: the characters are in charge, so my plans don’t always work out. That being said, I still insist on planning everything but keeping an open mind on how my plans go.

Basically: I’ve written numerous series, but the lesson that kept repeating itself to me was not to rush it. Even if I have a plan for one book that I know I want to expand, I stop myself from writing it until I know exactly where I’m expanding it too. (When I say “exactly” I mean a basic outline of events–not literally the entirety of the story, because, even if I planned that much, things always change in the moment of writing it.) My advice is simply to have a larger plan for the overall series and smaller plans within the books.

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. 

~SAT

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