Monday, August 1, 2016

Writing Series

by Linda O. Johnston

    Happy August, everyone.  Yikes, this year is going fast.  This is the first Monday of the month as well as the first day, so here I am.

    The creator of an online newsletter asked me to write an article on writing series, and I'm working on it.  But it also gave me the idea to write about it here, for my InkSpot post.

    I'm a seasoned writer.  My August release, not a Midnight Ink book so I won't go into detail here, is my 43rd published novel.  I started out writing quite a few stand-alone books, but really believe I found my niche when I started writing series.

    Most of my series books are cozy mysteries.  I wrote two series before I started here at Midnight Ink with my Superstition Mysteries and my Barkery & Biscuits Mysteries. 

    So what do I like about writing series?  I enjoy getting to know my characters, figuring out how they'll react in all the situations, good and bad, that I stick them into.  In my Midnight Ink books, since they're all cozy mysteries, my characters have to learn to deal with dead bodies and accusations against them or their friends as being major murder suspects.

    I get to know the story backgrounds, too.  My next mystery, UNLUCKY CHARMS--yes, my book number 44--will be released in October.  It's my third Superstition Mystery, and it has been a whole lot of fun researching superstitions and using them in my stories.  I have to admit that, as much as I also love my Barkery & Biscuits Mysteries, I'm not much of a cook, but I've tried out all the recipes friends provide for my books--sometimes with help--before making them available.  It's fun to include them, even if I don't create them.   TO CATCH A TREAT, the second in that series, was published in May.

    And over the course of time nearly all my stories have come to have one major underlying theme: dogs. 

    I'm including some of those basics in my article on series:  continuing and developing characters, underlying themes... and the murders in mysteries.  There's more, too, including how to figure out what hurdles to place in front of the protagonists that they can leap over, as well as making at least one of the continuing characters a love interest.  And, oh yes, how do I best fit dogs into the stories?

    Fortunately, readers seem to like series, too.  If they read one book in a series and enjoy it, they're likely to read the rest.  Even so, I try to make all of my stories somewhat standalone so readers don't have to start at the beginning to know what's going on.

    I think it's great that Midnight Ink publishes as many series as it does.  And if anyone has additional ideas about series and what you'd like to see in them, be sure to let me know so I can update this post--and include it in my other article.

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