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.