I have read a lot of blogs recently about writing a series. Since I am endeavoring into the task…and it seems to be one that is more and more popular with the publishing industry…I thought I would share a few of the things I have learned. This list is incomplete, I know. I am sure I will learn more as I go. I welcome any comments below of anything you have noticed writers do or that you do yourself.
1. Character charts are important for consistency: One thing
a reader will notice is if the eye color or height of a character changes. They
will also notice if scars move or family history changes even slightly. I have
started keeping a character chart. I fill it with physical attributes, short
back story that’s important, job professions, etc. It doesn’t have to be too
detailed, but just enough to remind me and help me stay consistent.
2. It is probably a good idea to keep track of the room
description for commonly used areas. This is one that I actually have to go
back and do. So far, I have gotten away with not having to look back into the
other books to find the descriptions due to renovations or changing the scene. However,
that will only work for so long before the reader starts to get annoyed and
realize I’m not holding up my end of the job. Therefore, it is probably a good
idea to keep a document with the descriptions of common rooms that will come up
time and time again in books.
3. Do not repeat story lines. I hate this when I encounter
it in books. The characters are going to be the same and react the same, but
don’t rehash old story lines. A fight a couple has in book two is just boring
in book three. Yes, this probably happens all the time in real life…but it is
one of those real life things I am trying to avoid as a reader. Make sure the
plots change. The characters should be growing and adapting (even ever so
slightly) throughout the series. The things they experience should therefore be
different to help shape them further.
4. Keep a “spark chart” of sorts for each book. I heard this
advice at a conference, but wasn’t considering changing my book into a series
at the time. Now, three books in, I realize the importance. Basically, I need
to go and write a 1-2 sentence summary of each chapter. That way, when I am further
in the series, I will have a quick guideline to what happened in book one. I
also have an easy cheat sheet for if I have to reference things further. This
would come in handy and I wish I had done it before. Now I’m stuck
backtracking, which is going to be a lot more difficult.
There you have it. My short list for what I’ve learned
writing my Atlantis series. Again, feel free to share your own antidotes below,
or any reference materials you found that are good.