Michille: Serious About Series

Callahan Family Cover 1We’ve talked about the new year in a couple of posts here. Elizabeth asked what you’re waiting for? Nancy suggested everyone get ready, get set, and set goals. So what am I doing? I am getting serious about my series. I’m taking my first Margie Lawson on-line course: Getting Serious About Writing a Series. The instructor is actually Lisa Wells (not Margie), but I’ve heard a lot of good things about the courses in general.

We are just getting started so I haven’t gotten into the real meat of it yet. Lesson 1 was on the Series Bible format. Done. Some of the other lessons deal with the connections, overall timeline, planning the ending, and writing a synopsis that encompasses the entire series. I’m thinking there is a lot of work ahead of me this month on my series.

I know I need to fix the overall timeline. I have two different characters with the same name so that will have to change. I want to tweak the conflict in all of the stories so that they align with each other and form an overall story arc that encompasses those conflicts. I also want a satisfactory ending of the series that ties up all four books (but I want the books to stand alone, too).

A couple of looming issues that I need to fix are also in there. Three of the stories have crime (stalking, drugs, trafficking, money laundering) but one doesn’t. One has some rather serious violence, but two don’t have any. I think the stories should all be similar in what I give the reader because it’s like a contract with them. The fourth and final book in my series is actually the start of a new series which is something else I’ll have to work out – how to close out one while starting another and aligning the subgenres with the original series and the second one. Yes, that is a lot of work.

Are any of you writing a series? What tools do you use?
Have any of you taken Margie Lawson courses? What were the best ones?

5 thoughts on “Michille: Serious About Series

  1. I’m writing a series, but mine doesn’t sound as complex as yours. I’m using the same couple over three books: the meet/developing interest, the falling in love, and the marriage, and each book has a professional problem they solve along the way. My biggest problem so far is making their relationship escalate at the same pace as the exterior plot does. I need emotions, but the related emotional actions seem too subtle, because the full relationship arc has to spread over three books. But I’m plunging on and hope for clarity in the revision stage.

    Sounds like your series is very meaty! Best of luck in figuring stuff out.

    • I’ve read a series like that before. I can’t remember the name of any of the books or the author. I do remember that the first one had them resolving a huge issue that had to be taken care of in the dating process (can’t remember what it was). But I could see if your characters are solving a professional problem, and one of them is going about it in a way that the other thinks is heinous (maybe perception of unethical behavior or something), that they would have to work through that before they could move on to even contemplate engagement.

      Good luck working through the relationship arc.

  2. I’m writing a series of books about people from the same world and community, but there are a different hero and heroine for each book and it’s open-ended – there isn’t an over-arching series arc. I’d love to know more about your series bible, Michille. At the moment I have one finished book and one in progress, so a simple spreadsheet does the job, but as the world grows I know I’ll have to put together something more structured.

    • Since the course just started, I don’t have a whole lot in the series bible yet. However, the first exercise to fill the series bible is a character chart. I have them for each of my stories, but I never put them together on one page. HUGE boost! I realized I have Baltimore City police officers in two stories but they are different cops. When I put them all together, I realized that I can make the cops the same in both stories. I have different bars and restaurants that I can make the same, too, which I discovered through the character charts because there are bartenders in each bar that I can make the same instead of creating a new character. It has set up a bunch of new edits, but it will make the series stronger.

  3. Even for standalones, I think a Bible can be very useful, especially if the story has gone through a lot of drafts. I use just a Word Document (well, actually, three — one for the Cast of Characters, one for the World Atlas of Places and one for Magic and Weapons) and try to keep the characters in alphabetical order, with a chronological note. It’s searchable, so I don’t worry too much about the organization.

    With my current work, I have a cast of characters, and that’s it. The places are real places, so my photo folders have pictures of those places for reference.

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