Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Trust your story, taking risks, and trials & Tribulations of writing a series

Yep, It's me again....the thinker, the babbler. Are you ready for my latest? :)


So yesterday, I shared the news that THE MELODY IN MY HEAD, Love and Music in Texas Book 2 was done! Well, the first draft anyway. There's still much work to be done to whip this baby into shape!

Which brings me to my first point. Trusting your story AND risk taking.

I've never written a romance series before. I've mentioned this in prior guest blog posts, but the idea of a series used to not appeal to me. I know, I know...quit looking at me like that, and please put down that rotten tomato. I've cleaned up enough messes today! :)

Anyway, the Love and Music in Texas series, at least the first part of it, is going to revolve around Harmony's Echo, Texas, and the band Baby Stetson. Of course we know Book 1 started off with Avery, and Jameson, her ex, and the lead guitarist for the band managed to warm his way into my heart and get his own story. I created some good conflict for Jameson, starting in the first book, and so he's got a lot to deal with in his story. He made a mistake that changed things for him and Avery. Book two introduces readers to Melody Roland, a woman on the run who ends up stranded in Harmony's Echo, and Jameson is there to help. He connects with her over music, and also because she's there when things happen in his life. He comes face to face with part of his past.  Of course, Avery and Lucas have their appearances, and I've introduced a sub plot that involves the two of them so there are a few scenes that are in either Avery or Luke's point of view.

There is a big incident that happens to Lucas, which forces Melody to realize that she can't run from her own past. My editor read through the draft and isn't sure about a few things.  I try to change up things in my stories and didn't want everything to be the same, so one of the biggest plot points doesn't happen to Melody and Jameson, but it forces the pair to figure out what they want and need. Maybe it's a risk to write it that way, but I don't feel that the subplot takes away from Jameson or Melody.  I've learned that everyone is going to have various opinions, I found that out reading all the different reviews on Baby Stetson. Something that worked for one was definitely NOT the case for another. You can't please everyone, but does that include the person that edits your story and wants to help make it the best it can be?  I know there are some things that need work on the story, I don't deny that- it's a rough draft and I am a panster. But I felt like what I did with Lucas helps his character.



That brings me to the ups and downs of writing a series. I've been huge on authors that have integrated older characters that had their own HEA in a previous story. Readers get to catch up with them. that works for some, and doesn't for others. One of my favorite examples is Marie Force's Gansett Island series.  It's like the best sense of community I've ever read with a series! Now, I'll admit, as the books goes on, it does get a little overwhelming with all the catching up and new characters, but I still enjoy reading about them after their happily ever after. Why? It gives more depth. It's like a version of real life, because you get to find out what happens after they fall in love, get married and live their lives. I love Harmony's Echo so much, I want that kind of sense of community. Lucas and Avery are the couple that won't leave my mind.  Also, another thing my editor brought up was that in a series, it's hard to make things stand alone. I get that. There are things talked about in book 2 that happened in book 1, but how do you avoid that?  It's just not easy to make it a stand alone in that sense, because it's a small town and the characters are so connected.


So that's my rambling. What are your thoughts, as a series writer? A series reader?

And if anyone has read Baby Stetson, and if you're willing, would you want to read through The Melody in My Head as a very early beta to tell me what you think of how I worked the ending? I'm already coming up with an alternative one to see which works better.

I want to hear from you! Thanks again, for reading my crazy writer ramblings. Hopefully they made sense.....



20 comments:

  1. I accidently wrote a series. I wrote book 1 and 2 - then discovered book 1 was too long and divided it and now I have 1,2,3!. But I couldn't write more than that, keeping characters and timelines straight - no way.

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    1. Victoria, I remember reading that somewhere about yours! Lol, that's so funny. I don't know what's with me and the series bug now.

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  2. Don't know how and don't want to learn how to write a series. Get the characters story out and move on. And so far, my characters have been good about saying good bye. Good post.

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    1. LOL Daryl. I used to say that. My characters said good-bye and that was that. There's just something that calls to me about this one, this town and the band.

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  3. So far I've not tried a series, but my daughter keeps telling me I should:) Great post. tweeted.

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    1. It's kinda fun, Karen! LOl, Thanks!

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  4. I've written a trilogy and it was difficult keeping up with everything. Finally I had to read through them all and write notes about what I needed to change/add. Then after I read through all three books did I go back through and check off my list.

    Thank you for sharing.

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    1. Notes are definitely a good idea! I just love being able to catch up with older characters and have them still be a part of the story!

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  5. I didn't plan mine either, but as I was writing book #1, book #3 started taking a place in my mind. Then I did book #2, because it turned out that one of the couples in book #1 were already married and had a child in book #3. Are you confused yet? I had another book was was going to be book #3 but it is not the first book of my next series which is a spin off from the Marriage Game, the first series. At the end of each book, I started having all the married couples come together and wonder about the still singles.

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    1. Whew! That's an earful, Ella! Do your older characters show up in other books, too?

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  6. I love series books. I hate to say goodbye to my favorite characters and when I love an author, I have to keep reading. But I have found a few series that have gone on too far. I think that a good writer knows when to let go. It's obvious that your characters are happy, so keep writing!

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    1. There definitely comes a time where it gets too much, and it can be hard to let go. But until then, it's fun reading through them!

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  7. Hi, Nikki,
    I don't think of my books as being series. I consider them to be collections for lack of a better word. When you say series, it implies that they must be read in order and the characters keep moving through the books.

    Personally, I hate books that end in cliff hangers that force you to read the next one. I won't! Really. I refuse to do that. Don't leave that heroine stuck in quicksand while the hero is dying in the hospital. I know it's a successful technique and it's being used by many authors. But to me, it's cheating the reader out of a HEA.

    I have two sets of books, my River City and In Wyoming. The difference between them and a true series, is that mine don't need to be read in order, and what glues them together is the location. Yes, characters do reappear from time to time, but you don't need to read their story to appreciate them. But for those who had read the previous stories, it's fun to have that glimpse at the past couples.

    When I started this journey, I created River City. Since I had mentally built the city, I just kept placing other couples in that city and continued to write. Then I did the same thing with my In Wyoming westerns. The ranching community of Creed's Crossing is small so everyone knows one another. It's simple. If you go to the feed store, you'll talk to the woman who owns it. I don't have to keep reinventing people. They are there. And the same thing happens with River City.

    It's almost a nightmare for me to track. I do have a map that I created of River City. But there are times I've got to search to be certain that I'm spelling a name correctly. I created a database, but I never remember to add to it..

    I've having fun writing them and I do hope that 20 years from now I will still be writing River City novels. I figure there will always be young people in a city. It's my job to play matchmaker.
    E. Ayers

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    1. I like your point- a collection! Now for Love and Music in Texas books, I don't have cliffhangers. For Avery and Lucas, their story wrapped up with an HEA, but it leads into the next character's book. I also brought a sub plot with Avery and Lucas into book 2. Other than not knowing some of the things that happened with Avery and Luke in book one, it can stand alone, but that's the hard part, lol.

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  8. Great post, Nikki. Just because your editor suggests a change does not mean you have to change it. Look long and hard--analyze your eds suggestion, but if the changes don't feel right and your instincts are screaming for you not to make the change, then go with your gut. No body knows your characters, you story better than you.

    Also, writing a series can be a massive pain in the butt. You have to try and make each novel stand alone, because not all readers are going to read in order. And if they become confused, they may not bother buying anymore.

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    1. Thanks Brenda. I don't think I'm going to change that part, but I might draw out some more of the main plot with the current H/h and add the intensity with it, but I like what I did with the other one and it helps the growth of the previous H/h, plus forces this one to confront her own past.

      I agree, it's hard writing a series. and while I'm trying to make it as stand alone as possible, I wonder about it because of things that happened int he first story. I wrapped it up of course, but if someone started in on this current book, then then they'll know what happens before the read the first one. It's a learning scale, for sure.

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  9. I have a few characters who are minor players. And their story drifts through the River City books, but nothing that would confuse anyone. Just can't confuse the readers. And when you bring back a previous character, you've got to assume that the reader does not know them.

    Sounds like you're doing a great job. And I'm so glad you don't have cliff hangers!
    E. Ayers

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    1. And THATS where the struggle is! having to assume the reader doesn't know them. Like I said, i'm new at this LOL. I'm not a fan of cliffhangers...you should see how I yell at the TV when shows end....it's not pretty!!

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  10. I like seeing characters from other books in the new books in the series - it gives me a feeling of continuity and also makes the story more like real life - your life continues, you run into people over and over again and make new friends and some old friends die...so I say go for it!

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    1. Exactly! And it works well for this series, because they are band mates, plus the hero in book 2 used to date the heroine from book one, and I had to resolve his feelings from what happened in their past. I love reconnecting with characters and seeing how things are with them after their HEA . :)

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