Tonight’s guest blog post, on the topic of series, is brought to you by family saga novelist Nicole Dunlap.
Sequels, Sagas, and Trilogies…Oh, My!
So you’ve written your best work and the reading world, as we know it, will love the masterpiece. Like a crafty novelist, your brain has already worked out plot-points and scenarios that will make for a fantastic sequel. Then a novelist-dream occurs, you’ve had a “creative brain explosion” and your mind has already conjured up an outline of a three book, four book, – no wait – a five book series.
When deciding to write a series can be a great choice
- After completing the first book, a writer has learned a wealth of information about their characters. Choosing to write an addition book or more will allow the author to connect with their characters on greater levels. The time that they’ve invested in character development will show as they’ve fleshed out their characters until he or she is tangible. These characters become real and readers form a greater relation with characters they feel connected with. As the author of the Shaw Family Saga, Miss Nobody being the first in the series, I’ve come to love and connect with my characters. Fans and bloggers have commented just how real the characters by Miss Scandalous, book 2.
- Readers are loyal. When they find an author that they love, they scour the internet–or the back flap of a novel–to find out more about said author. Hooking a “bookworm” with the first in a series can lead to lifetime relationship and increased book sales.
- Trilogies are often paused on cliffhangers. Readers love stories that stir their emotions and leave them in a tense situation. Pausing a novel at a peak in transition will leave the audience wanting more. A good story can stay on the readers mind long after they’ve turned the last page of the book. It leaves the fans mulling over what’s going to happen next. We’ve all seen those reviews that say “can’t wait for the next one!” (Caution, if the plot points are developed incorrectly this is also a con.)
- Authors can have an increased interaction with fans. Writing a saga provides a novelist with the opportunity to learn what their fans like or didn’t like. They can engage on social media and determine what the fans want to happen with future installments. This increased engagement can not only provide the author with more ideas and easier writing, it is also a great way to boost your brand.
- Brand–it’s a big word in the publishing world. Being known as the author of the “Harry Potter” series or the [insert the first famous epic author at the top of your head hear] really solidifies a brand and increases the word-of-mouth aspect of marketing that helps authors sell, sell, sell.
When turning your stand alone novel into a series can be daunting
- Time can be a pickle. Sagas are usually written over an extended period of time. While writing the second installment of my family saga, I had to continuously revert to the first and not just for large details.
- Another issue with consistency is that novelist must edit their work. Sometimes scenes have been cut out or added in and it’s easy to forget that. A writer has the unedited full version of the story running through their brain, – and if done right – the readers have the fully edited story that has been prepped for consistency and flow. Therefore, toggling back and forth from stories or having a chapter outline is imperative.
- Continuing the story with different segments must be done with “refresher information” in between to ensure cross-consistency. It takes a creative novelist to determine how much back story or “refresher information” to add in the next read.
When turning a standalone into a series is not so much of a good idea
- The standalone was so impactful that the novelist would be forcing it to end the story with an outrageous climax. We’ve all read a story that was so deeply poetic, so deeply about romance and love, then BAM. The author knows how great it was so they ended it with a shocking cliffhanger that in no way complements their story or their target audience.
- Readers complain about overly-developed books in which the author creates a new world and at least 100 pages can be highlighted as pure setting. Or there’s an arsenal of characters in the story that have a back story–adding another 50 pages or so. While focusing on just these two parts of a novel, the author hasn’t even developed an interesting plot.
- The author decides to slowly feed the reader sets of plotlines, but the big issue is that these never ending webs of juiciness weave on and on. Based on readers’ comments, if plotlines are being opened, opened, opened, they don’t see the characters transforming until the end of the first book or well into book three. This can lead to an epic fail.
To write a sequel, saga, or trilogy, the choice is yours
Whether you choose to write a standalone or you’re in it for the long haul, there are many situations to take into perspective. Outlined above are a few–subjective–choice reasons to do or not to do. What are some other ideas you can think of before taking the plunge? Write those down to ensure your best work. Keep in mind, it’s a big job. Have the first book–or previous books–on standby and outlining a series is needed if you don’t want to weave a stick web of a never-ending plot.
Thank you, Nicole!
At the age of five, in her mother’s busted-up car, Nicole was inspired to write. They didn’t have a radio and she started out singing – unfortunately, she was no Alicia Keys (she tells me). She dabbled in storytelling while her mother drove over an hour to do the “kiddy exchange” with her father. Over the years, her short stories jumbled in her brain until she just could not hold on any longer and published Miss Nobody and Miss Scandalous. You can find Nicole via…
- Website: http://nicoledunlap.com
- Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AuthorNicoleDunlap
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/nicoleydunlap
- Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Nicole-Dunlap/e/B009BTPPWY
- Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16035414-miss-nobody
- Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9637GqJqx7Y
If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me with an outline of what you would like to write about. If it’s writing-related then it’s highly likely I’d email back and say “yes please”.
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