Tuesday, February 21

And the story continues....

I have never written a series before, never wanted to. But now, suddenly, I find myself in the midst of a sequel to Branded.

I loved that setting, and those characters and hated to say goodbye. Anyone who knows me knows that I see a scene which often leads to my next book. In this case, the scene I've seen isn't the opening of the new ms (God, I've got to get this book titled).

Writing a series has some unique challenges.

1. How much of the "old" characters do you show?

2. How much do you change them?

3. Who is the new protagonist?

4. How much of the old story do you retell, as in backstory?

5. How much do you change the tone?

A lot of questions I've never dealt with before and some I'm finding challenging.

One thing that's tricky is the tone. Branded had a very specific tone, this new one is way different. Is that a bad thing? Or is it good?

A lot to figure out here.

One more I just thought of. Is there any point in an unpublished writer doing a series...what if the first one doesn't sell? Will the second, even if it's a stand-alone.

Thanks for any help.

28 comments:

  1. I'm working on a series and as for the tone, I am trying to keep it true to character. I think the tone will be different because the characters motivations and personalities are different.

    As for being unpubbed and working on a sequel....D'Ann, I honestly don't think you have to worry about it. Your writing is fantastic and you will be published...it will just depend on the route you take...waiting for the big six, epub, self pub..but it'll happen :)

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  2. Good-morning, D'Ann, all I can say is nice post. LOL. No, seriously, as a writer I can't comment/answer. I haven't considered writing a series either, but as a reader I perfer series where each book stands on its own. And if "Branded" doesn't sell first, then when it does, you can always do a 'back to the beginning' kinda thing. Also as a reader, if the book grabs me, I love learning more as the characters grow, as they meet new people/obsticles. Did that make sense? I wasn't much help was I? LOL

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  3. I love writing and reading series! I agree with Christine that different characters will make for a different story. I say go with the story the way it wants to be told because all of yours are great!!

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  4. As an unpublished author, I'm just trying to get my first one out the door. I do love reading a series. I just don't like when an author takes too long between books.

    Marika

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  5. I too am writing a series. I love my characters, the setting--the world, I've created.

    As for tone, let the characters dictate the "tone" and what will happen in the book.

    I totally would not worry about an unpubbed writer writing a series. Go with your gut on this.

    As for how much of the first book and characters should be brought into the second book, well that all depends on if the older characters play much of a role. As for certain things that happened in book one, well, if they are important to book 2 then try to get the info across as simply as possible. Try to sum things up so the reader knows what has happened--if they haven't read book 1--in book 1. But try not to give too much back story about book 1 in book 2.

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  6. I agree with Harlie, I love series, with great characters, but I too don't like to wait - so, good for you that you are getting the series done before you are published - we won't have to wait long for the sequels :-).

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  7. I actually enjoy working with series more than singles titles - plus I only read series as it is.

    It's really the characters that make the story. Their POV of the back story of the past books might have a different "hue" than the others so it still seems different.

    Plus you already have a world built, all you can do is add on a refine!

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  8. I'm currently working on my fifth series. At this point it's hard for me not to write one. I had different tones to each book.

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  9. Writing the #2 is fun yet very taxing. The worst is the 'how much of the first do you retell...' That's the part I struggle with so badly.

    How much you change the tone depends on the issues and goals of this story. Do they grow from #1 to #2? Do they change during #2 because of what's happening now? Does their (either of) makes them change due to old trauma?

    I don't plot out (well, I do but my characters often ignore me) but in book 2 it's more important to know the end goal so you can do just that.

    One thing though... write what you feel then reread and add in back story and such as you find weak spots and holes. Never argue with your muse - work around her :)

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  10. I've once heard about not writing a series until you get a contract but I seriously think if they can all be stand alones which they should be anyway--that it's okay.

    Another thing too is when pubs want the first book they usually want a series! LOL So authors scramble to write the rest...

    I'm finding a ,lot of avid readers prefer series. I have one client tell me whatever I do please write more than one book in a series.

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  11. I think series can actually be a great way for an unpubbed writer to break in. Here's why -- readers love connected books. And a series can make it easier for the publisher to promote a new writer, and for a new writer to "hook" readers.

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  12. What Christine said about tone - I think you have to be true to your characters not what a different book in the series 'sounded' like.

    As for the point - I think you have to write the books that are telling you to write them. If that is a series, go for it. Because your heart will be in those books - and that will help them sell.

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  13. I love series books! I read all the time. And just as Cindi Myers commented, a good way to break in (like I'd know anything about that!). If it's in your heart to write another book based in the same world you've created, then do it, D'Ann! You've created this town and population that are totally cool and believable. The way they all interact together...awesomesauce.

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  14. Having read Branded and now critting this one, I think it's great to see old names and faces pop up.

    I think a lot of readers would like to see that. You've done a great job bringing the characters from Branded in from what I've seen.

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  15. Yes, what Allison said (and what a lot of other people have said, too--I have no originality!) I love the fact that your new story has a different feel and sound, but we're still getting to talk to BRANDED people.

    I admit that I occasionally get tired of series because there are so MANY of them out there, but most of the books are stand-alones, so it's not a problem.

    I also feel like being pubbed or not is a non-issue.

    Cool post and cool discussion!

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  16. I agree with Christine. The tone will change according to character and motivation.

    I see no problems with writing series as either a pubbed or unpubbed author. As long as they can stand alone, you should be fine:)

    The backstory of the previous book is the hardest thing for me to incorporate smoothly. In fact, I worry I'm not giving enough. I try treat series and their backstories just like I would treat any other backstory from a non-series. Reveal it in bits and pieces and only when necessary. But I do try to give enough backstory so the reader isn't adrift:)

    It's a delicate balance, one we might need critters to help us with in some places.

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  17. Well, pretty much what everyone else has said! LOL

    I'm writing a series because that's the way it was revealed to me by the characters. They ganged up on me. And mine are sort of dovetailed or meshed together. They might stand alone, but you'd have some questions about the other characters, who are an intimate part of the 2nd (and frankly all 5) books.

    In this day and time, if one book isn't picked up by that publisher you can self-pub it (make sure you retain rights to the characters) and take advantage of publicity for the one that is trad or epubbed.

    Another great post, D'Ann. :)

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  18. I wouldn't worry about the tone--it should match the book and the current characters.

    As for unpublished authors writing a serious I say go for it! Maybe you can land a 2 (or more) book deal!

    I love to read series but I don't like older characters popping up if they don't add to the story. That's the key. If they're integral to the story, then by all means, they should be included. If they're their just because they had a prior book and nothing more, then I say cut that scene.

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  19. As you know, every book I've written (but one) has been part of a series.. I too struggled and continue to struggle with these questions...

    As for tone, I think it will change with each book. Some may be darker while others in the series might be lighter in tone depending on the characters personalities.

    And as for a non-pubbed author writing a series... I'd say go for it. As long as they aren't a continuation from the book before and are stand alones... You can always edit if one doesn't sell.

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  20. Christine~
    Thanks for believing in me. It's so nice of you.

    Jenn~
    Thanks, and ditto above.

    Marika~
    I agree.

    Brenda~
    Thanks for the comments.

    Kylie~
    Thanks, and point taken.

    Carrie Ann~
    True about the world building.

    Jerri~
    Why did you make so many series?

    Anya~
    My muse is a pisol!

    Mart~
    Thanks for the help.

    Cindi~
    Thanks for coming by! I appreciate your insight.

    Kristi~
    This one surprised how different the tone is.

    Sheri~
    You're such a sweetie, thanks!

    Allie~
    Thanks, love.

    Liz~
    Thanks for the all the help!

    Lisa~
    Thanks for coming by!

    Jenna~
    Appreciate you stopping in.

    Sharon~
    My dream is to sell a two-book deal.

    Sara~
    You have the best series. Love 'em.

    Thanks for coming by, all.

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  21. Well, I remember going to a conference where Carolyn Lampman told about her experience: She had three books written (sequels) but she sold a story that wasn't even part of the sequels. However, her agent asked her if she had anything else. Carolyn pushed the sequels and all three were bought up! So is it worth it? Only you can be the judge.

    How much backstory? You'll definitely need enough to let new readers know what happened first time around. Only show those characters that have a direct tie in to the new ones. Just my opinion, but if readers fall in love with your original characters, you won't want to change them too much. You can show growth, perhaps a change of heart/opinion, but you don't want drastic changes, you'll need to stay true to your character's character.

    As far as new protagonist--I think you need to stay with the original--after all, it isn't a soap opera.

    Having said all that, I admit I read few series, but of those I have, most of them follow the above. Hope that helps.

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  22. D'Ann,

    Okay, this is my opinion.

    I think you're worrying about something that you don't need to worry about. Sit down and write the story. Listen to your gut because I think you already know the answers to all of those questions. You're questioning yourself because you haven't written a series before. That's all. Anything can be changed, edited, fixed. Just write the story and enjoy the journey. Use Your Gift.

    HTH

    Cher

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  23. I love to reading series. As for writing one, I'm playing with the idea, but not really sure yet. I think you should definately go for it. You will problably sell the whole weries!

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  24. As a book reviewer, I love sequel. On a sequel I expect a more elaborated story, stronger characters, properly balance background information, unexpected twist and turns with newly created character which will add flavor to the story.

    When reviewing sequel, I look at them with an eagle eye. The main character should remain true to him/herself. The personality should not change but somehow maturate with time. Think of Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings. All the characters changed somehow based on the situations, but never quit been themselves.

    I hope this help. GOOD LUCK WITH YOUR SEQUEL

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  25. I think there's a difference between series (same H and h in several books-long story) and sequels (such as with a trilogy, different leads in each book, with some overlapping secondary characters, who each get their book in the limelight). In romance, you definitely want those characters getting their HEA at the end of each book, or readers are most likely going to feel ripped off (that HEA is the high we're after when we read romance, after all).
    Series/sequels are a great way for new authors to sell books--Ms. Readerface buys one of the books, and then decides she MUST have all the others. Speaking as an author, it's good to have those sequels written, or at the very least mapped out to show an editor where you're going. Plus, as Marisa Tomei's character says in Pretty Woman, "Oh, God, the pressah!" of writing a sequel on a deadline. It's a whole other hurt. Speaking as an editor, the more I can see completed of those sequels, the better for me (because I've had authors on my roster succumb to that deadline pressure, and it's not pretty. It's called Death of Creativity.). If books 1 and 2 are complete and she has a detailed synopsis for book 3, I can recommend we contract the series, whereas if only 1 book is complete, the books will probably each be contracted as they are finished.

    Either way, go with your muse, woman. If she's giving you sequel material, by all means, write it!

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  26. Thank you to those of you who came by late....I appreciate it!

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