Monday, August 27, 2012

And Onto Book Two

I turned in Eternally 21, the first in my Mrs. Frugalicious mystery series at the end of May. I got back an editorial letter mid-June and had the edited manuscript back by Mid–August. Last week I even saw a prototype for the cover. Heady stuff—particularly having waited to see my name on a book cover for a solid decade. The mere idea of people, readers who aren’t even related to me, actually buying this story I’ve created is almost too cool to imagine.

That there will be a book two in the series is even harder to imagine, particularly since I find myself once again in a staring match with that familiar foe, the blank page.

So blank.

On the one hand, I have a title I really like: BLACK FRIDAY. I have what I think is a solid premise-- a suspicious death during the midnight sales madness. I have some returning characters from the first book and some new and potentially interesting supporting characters joining Mrs. Frugalicious for the murder, mayhem and bargain shopping.

On the other, I have a lot of blank pages before me.

For research, or, more likely, procrastination purposes, I Googled Writing Series Fiction, to see what I’ve got on the new book relative to what the experts our there in Internet land say I need. Here are some of the things I found that are making me feel either confident about what I have going, or making me realize how much work I have ahead:

1.Books in a series should be both dependent and independent, so be sure that your stories interconnect but can stand alone.
2. Consider high points and climaxes. Will the climax of each book have it’s own flavor? How are they related and how are they different? 
2. Make sure you know your timeline for each book and the series as a whole.
3. Don't assume the reader has read your previous book. Often, readers don’t start from the beginning of a series, so sprinkle in enough back story to keep them from being confused about characters, settings, and relationships.
4. Don't assume a reader who has read your previous book will remember everything.  Details from the last book need to be added in for the sake of new readers and to help jog the memory of fans of your previous books.
5. Make sure your lead as well as secondary characters have interesting enough stories, careers, personal quirks etc., to compel readers to follow them through an entire series.
6. Know the back story on all of your characters. Even if you don’t tell the reader, you need to know who your characters are and where they’ve come from.
7. Plant clues for future stories. Not only do you need to plant clues, you need to explain mysteries from earlier books and deepen mysteries across the series.
8. Make sure each book has a plot of its own. Certainly the overarching story and specific elements need to carry over, but the entire series shouldn't have one long plot.
9. Consider the end of the series from the very beginning.
10. Fulfill the promises you make to the reader from the first book in your series to the last.


Vicki Doudera said...

Very succinct list of tips, Linda! Good luck on Book Two.

Shannon Baker said...

Thanks for the list. I'm finishing book 2 now and hope I've hit the balance between backstory on book one and BORING. This is much harder than I thought it would be. Can't wait to read Eternally 21.

Beth Groundwater said...

Great post, Linda! I hope those blank pages start filling up for you very soon.

Kathleen Ernst said...

Interesting list. The one that tripped me was knowing how the series will end, right from the beginning. While in theory I get that--know where you're going so the whole thing hangs together--I can't imagine yet how my series will end.

In any event, good luck with #2! You'll get rolling again.

Deborah Sharp said...

Cool! Can't wait to see how your baby looks when its finally born. Good tip list, too. Even with Book 5 in my series, I still struggle with some of those. Especially backstory vs. boredom (and I'm talking about MINE, not just the reader's!)

Linda Hull said...

Getting started has been way harder than I expected. I have what I think is a good premise and plot and I'm still having trouble getting that first chapter on the page and rolling. It's good to hear I'm not as alone as I feel!