July 19, 2011

Guest Post with Karen Taylor

A Little Bit About Writing a Series
by Karen Taylor

Sitting down to write a novel is a monumental task. Finishing that novel can be herculean. But
what happens when you get to the end of that novel and realize that you haven’t told the whole story, that you couldn’t possibly tell the whole thing in the allotted word count for your specific
genre? Well, it could mean that you haven’t done it right. Or it could mean that you have just written the first book in a series. Which is, in many cases, a completely different animal than a
single novel.

I never intended to write a series. My first novel was going to be a stand-alone novel. When it was completed I sent it around to friends and family members for critiquing while I started work on something completely different – a ghost novel originally entitled Cellar, which was eventually finished in 2007 (long after the Vampire Legacy series ended) and published as Twelve Steps from Darkness. I also did a little work on a fantasy novel, Circle of Souls, which is still lying dormant in my hard drive. When the comments from that first novel (which would become Blood Secrets) filtered back, though, everyone agreed. I should try to get it published and I should turn it into a series. I had actually reached the same conclusion (at least about its
potential as a series) and started work on the sequel novel which would become Bitter Blood.

These two novels are now currently in release as HUNGER.

My agent suggested I add a third book, and that’s what Kensington eventually bought in 1990 –
a finished copy of the first, a synopsis and 100 or so pages of the second, and a two line synopsis
of the third. The more I wrote, the deeper I got involved in the characters and their stories,
finally proposing books four and five, then six and seven.

I learned a lot about writing from this series. And specifically learned a lot about writing a
series. 1.) Give your characters a lot of room to grow, and allow current conflicts to develop
naturally from the previous story’s conflict. 2.) Be careful who you kill and how you do it – you
never know when someone needs to be resurrected from the dead. (Especially if you are writing
in the paranormal/supernatural areas...) 3.) Pay attention. Within the first few novels, you’ll
probably notice a formula developing. In my case it looked like the series was evolving into a
vampire partner crime series, in which Deirdre and Mitch travel around solving crimes. And that would have been fine, had I chosen to pursue that route. I didn’t. Not really. 4.) Instead I chose to develop side stories, the effect of Deirdre’s stillborn child talked about in #1, for instance, or the back story of her sister in the blood, Vivienne Courbet. 5.) Ultimately, I learned to tie everything together, to give the characters, and the readers of the series, the ending they needed.

It doesn’t have to be a happy ending for everyone, but a realistic ending, one which makes sense in the context of the previous novels. One which ties up all the loose ends, nicely and neatly. Just make sure it’s a single knot – you never know when it might be time to bring everyone back for the series’ sequel.


Anonymous said...

Hi. My name is Taylor Johnson. I a thirteen year old girl and going into grade 8. And I am a big fan of your series!!!! I loved the ending of this page!!!! And I don't usually have a happy ending like some people!!!! I think you should keep writing!!!! Someday, I want to become an author. You've really inspired me!!!! Thanks. Bye.

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