4 Tips to Writing a Book Series

While writing my latest book, I ran into a bit of a dilemma, “Do I make the book into a series or leave it as a single book?” Leaving out the promotion of this book, I will say that there were changes to the book that made it very different from what I planned, and as I came to the conclusion of the novel I realized that for it to be a single book, I need to either remove a few sub-plot points that I created earlier in the book to support a bigger plot point or resolve them altogether. If I did the first option, then the book would have been shorter than I planned it and a single book. If I did the latter option, then the book could have been a single book, albeit a little longer than planned, or a series of books. If you have had the same problem or wish to know more about writing a book series, read on.

1) Before you write your book, decided whether you want it to be a single book or a book series. Why should you decide now? Because it can save you a lot of rewriting later. Now the romance industry has created a twist on the book series idea. Rather than have the series being about the same two characters, they link each book in the series through a time and place and characters from the previous book. So if Jane and Earl got together in the first book, then Marge, Jane’s sister, and Henry who were minor characters in that first book will have their own love story and so on.

2) If you have a lot of research material, the overflow information can easily go into another book. Just gather all the extra material, organize it into some sort of order, and develop it into a separate book. The best time to start collecting research for book two is when youa are organizing book one.For non-fiction writers, select a sub-topic in your book to do further research on. Doing more research on sub-topics you might have only touched upon in the first book to cover fully in the sequel will bring your readers back for the additional information.

3) Consider your readers. ask them who their favorite characters are, who’d they like to have their own book in a series. If the book is a non-fiction ask them what they want to know more about in your book and expound on that. There are many readers out there that love series books. A sequel sometimes sells better than the previous book. And if you write a series that people love and can relate to, then your readers will go out and buy every title in the series. It can be a profitable as well as an easy way to write a few books.

4) If your book starts to get too large, separate a larger book into sections, then divide them into serveral books. Remember series books have two main plots, or three if it has a romance in it. The first one is the series plot and the second one the book plot. The series plot is just like what it sounds. It is a plot drawn out through entire novel or novella, from start to finish, and every book resolves just a little more of the series plot. A book plot is just the plot done for each book. It starts at the beginning of the book and it ends at the end of the book. And the romance plot, if you have one, is threaded throughout it.

What do you think of these tips to writing a book series? Did I leave anything out? Do you have anything to add? Or questions that I might not have answered? I’d love to hear from you below!

Breaking Writing Sterotypes

Every genre has its writing stereotypes. This morning I came across a tweet decrying and asking people to leave a comment at this man’s blog in view of his post making fun of romance novels and readers. The post actually made me laugh as did some the comments–and yes, I do read and write romances.

The one thing I realized while reading his blog was that the people who commented live day in and day out with untrue writing stereotypes. They were fed up with people making fun of their hard work, but very few of those people were actually trying to break away from the stigma that they were so anger about.

Why? You might ask. Because traditional publishers dictated what rules they have to follow. Different is good. But not too different. Unique stories are welcome, but not always accepted.

As self-published authors, we are in the position to write what we like. We can move away from the writing stereotypes we don’t like. We can break the genre rules and take chances.

Please share the stereotypes you would like to see broken or changed, that you like, or that you hate. If you have a related post, let us know.

Tips to Writing a Rough Draft in 30 Days

Writing a novel is an enormous undertaking on its own, but to do so in 30 days is even more so. It may seem to be an impossible task, but it doesn’t have to be. All it takes is a little planning on your part and depending on if you are a plotter (organize everything in advance; have the story plotted out from start to finish), a panster (writing by the seat of their pants; not planning your writing), or an in-betweener (this is the place between advance planning and writing without a plan), just how much planning that involves.

A few years back I bought two books on how to write a rough draft in 30 days, the first book I hated, the second one I loved and still use. Much of it has to do with my writing style and not the authors writing style or methods. So I thought I’d share a few tips with all of you that I’ve picked up over the years.

Tip #1: Settle On a Word Count

This isn’t a set in stone word count, this is a goal to work towards. When I wrote My Lord Hades, the word count was set at 50,000 words. Setting a word count helped me stay on track and calculate where I needed to be each day or when to step up the paceif I was to meet my deadline at the end of 30 days. It also let me know how many words I needed to write the next day if I skipped a day.

Tip #2: Don’t Stop Writing

Churning out a novel in one month doesn’t figure in time for revision and editing, that is to be done after the first draft is complete. Often writers who complete a novel in one month, let the novel sit for a few weeks before diving back in to revise. Writers will, of course, experience rough patches and road blocks which is understandable.

One important thing to remember is to just write. Don’t go back and re-read or edit your manuscript during the process, it will interrupt the flow of ideas and slow you down.If you are able to stay on track there is no reason to not finish the novel in 30 days. The goal is to get the ideas on paper. Revision can and will come afterwards.

Tip #3: Use a Story Tracker

The Story Tracker was an idea I liked from Book in a Month by Victoria Lynn Schmidt, Ph.D. I have adopted this simple idea to my own use, modifying it as I like. You are free to do the same or use as is.

The main idea behind the Story Tracker is to keep writing without stopping to rewrite a plot, character, setting, subplot, or revise and edit. What you do is keep notes of changes you want to make to the story, so that you can remember what you need to do later when you revise the finished manuscript. This is where you jot down new ideas and new directions as they come to mind and then keep writing as if you made those changes already.

I tried creating a worksheet in my word processor that consisted of a table with the headings: Page #, What to Fix, and Additional Comments—these can be: why you need the change, what the impact of this change will be on other characters,. This didn’t work for me—needed more room or less than I gave myself in a table—so I made it into columns. However, now I just use a notebook to jot down my notes.

My examples:

Loving the Goddess of Love (Title of work at the top of the page)

-page 1-3, change POV character in Prologue to Aphrodite

-page 6-8, change character talking to Zeus from Hera to Rhea, more impact on Zeus’ decision if it’s his mom rather than his soon-to-be-wife

Editing, Proofreading, or Revising, Which one is it

Ruth’s note: I’m republishing this post because some questions came up in the previous post about this topic.  😀

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I always thought editing, proofreading, and revising were the same thing and used the terms interchangeably, but then I became an editor and a proofreader, I found that each is a separate process that contributes to the finished product in its own way. If you plan to uses the services of an editor, then the definitions below will help you tell said editor what you really want done with you manuscript.

Revising is the reading of your manuscript to organize your thoughts on paper to match the thoughts in your mind. Revising takes place at the level of the sentence, paragraph or higher.

Editing tests each word and phrase to see that it is accurate, appropriate, or necessary, changing the language more than the ideas. Editing is more stylized and mechanical work, taking place at the level of the sentence or word.

Proofreading is checking the manuscript for accuracy and correctness. The last phase of the editing process, proofreading should be completed after the conceptual and stylistic concerns have been addressed. You review spelling, punctuation, capitalization, and usage to make sure no careless mistakes.

As an Author and an Editor, I find it good practice to revise before you edit. First, in revising you may cut out whole sections of the draft because they no longer suit your manuscript. If you have already edited those now-deleted sections, all that careful work goes to naught. Two, once you have invested time in carefully editing sentences, you become reluctant to cut them, even though these sections may no longer suit your purpose.

Q&A: The Stalker Reader

Question: Help!  Someone please make a post for me and for other writers who might be dealing with this situation because I am too close to the problem to be objective about it.

If you’ve been receiving emails every day for about two weeks from the same person who isn’t necessarily being rude but is obviously wanting to keep you answering them with questions like “What kind of house do you live in?” or “What is it like in the U.S.?” or “What are the color of your cat’s eyes?”  I mean, these emails have nothing to do with your books, but you suspect the person is lonely and probably wants to reach out and communicate with someone but you don’t have that kind of time to email this person every single day, then what do you do?

I don’t want to be rude.  But do I have a choice?  Is there a form letter I can send out? 

Answer: I wanted to have your question answered as soon as I could and later I’ll make a post on Author Etiquette. Most people on here might not know what Ruth means by form letter. This isn’t some cold letter that you copy and send out. In the last year that we have been conversing, we have made a dozen or more form letters. What they are, are letters written to answer emails that would otherwise make you send a heated email cussing the rude reader off for whatever reader reason. Our letters aren’t a publisher’s rejection letters.

First, they are written when you’re not upset. Second, they can be modified to answer specific points in the readers email, which you should do if it doesn’t invade your privacy. And third, it provides a credible, professional image.  

I’ll use Ruth’s questions for an example.

Dear (Reader’s name);

Thank you for your emails, however, I am uncomfortable with your line of questioning (or as Dave suggested, due to work / family commitments / time restraints, etc. I am only able to speak  you on the writing/reader basis.) If you have a reading or writing related question please let me know (at your email or you can place a blog address here). I also have an author blog at (address), feel free to visit and comment.

Sincerely,

(Your name)

Of course modify this for your writing style. I’m more formal in my letter writing then, Ruth. And I open this Q&A for anyone else that might have a better solution. Anyone?

Creating a Writing Routine

Whether you are a novice or a long time writer, some sort of writing rountine is necessary. Why, you might ask? Because any kind of routine helps you be more effective and productive in your work.

For me a daily routine is imperative. I’d get nothing done if I didn’t. When building a writing schedule there are some things you have to take into account.

1. Build your routine to meet your needs. I wake early, about 2-4 hours before the kids wake to write. This is only Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday. It’s not everyday, but it meets my needs, probably not yours.

2. Set goals for what you want to accomplish that day. At the end of the day I mark off what I accomplished and write down what I want to accomplish the next day. This way, when I start my day all I have to do is look at my schedule and know where to start. This saves me time and useless staring at the computer screen.

3. Set the time that best suits you or your working schedule. Before I got married or had kids the best time for me to write was from 9PM to midnight. After kids it was random until I learned my kids schedule. Then there is my husband’s swing shift schedule during the winter and spring months. Then when the kids start school next year I’ll have to revise again.

4. Set limits to your writing time so that you don’t over do it and burn out. It can easily happen to the best of us.

If you have a writing routine, would you like to share? Would you like to add anything? Do you have any questions? Please share with us so we all may learn. Thank you.

The Importance of Setting

Setting is an important part of writing a story. It is as important as characterization and plot. When used properly it fades into the background of the text, nearly invisible, giving to your readers a sense of place and time. Setting is needed, but can be overdone or underdone. and when it moves into either of these two extremes, you’ll either bore you audience or confuse them.

Like many readers, I prefer a happy medium. I prefer a rich tapestry of setting and description that does not run on and on for paragraphs, but whose threads are interwoven into the dialogue and action.

My best advice, when creating settings for your novels, study writing that you enjoy, imulate but don’t copy the writing of authors you like to read, and write the stories you love. Don’t make a laundry list of descriptive details, or do, just don’t put them all into your first paragraph. Use the details that are important to the story or help create the mood you want you readers to have going into a scene.

The best advice I’ve recieved over the years is: if you like lots of discription in your stories, use lots of description, but during the edits use beta readers to pare down the too long parts; and second, if description bores the hell out of you, write your story and then ask your beta readers to look for parts that might need clarification or unanswered questions that might need to be answered.

There will always be readers out there that will like what you write, you’ll just have to find them. And don’t give up, live your dreams and make them a reality.

Do you find setting to be important in your stories, or do you mostly ignore it?