The Highs and Lows of Writing a Series: Lessons Learned by Helen Treharne
It is my pleasure to host Helen Treharne, fellow Rave Reviews Book Club member, published author, and lucky RRBC Spotlight Author, as she graces the websites of other fellow RRBC members during her blog tour. If you haven’t heard of RRBC or the club’s perks for Indie writers, check out the RRBC website. If you join, tell them Helen sent you. Better yet, plan to go to Amazon on February 14 to order your copy of Death in the Family. While you’re there, claim your free copy of Relative Strangers. Here is Helen in her own words.
There’s no way around it, writing a book is hard work; writing a series is perhaps even harder. You live with your characters for months, years in many cases. Writing is not for the faint hearted. Within the confines of your creation lurk great risks. What if readers don’t get what you are trying to say? What if the story just doesn’t translate from your mind onto paper? What if they think your writing sucks? Perhaps people won’t root for your characters. When you write a series, this is essential. You want readers to warm to the ongoing plotlines and characters, even the villains. When the vampire genre is already pretty saturated, crafting stories and conjuring up people that feel fresh and interesting is stressful, I can tell you!
But along with the challenges of writing a series, there also come great rewards, not the least of which are the memories you forge along the way. It took two years to write Relative Strangers, the first book in the Sophie Morgan vampire series. I started it during a particularly busy time in my personal life and with lots happening outside the confines of my limited writing time.
My experience of writing Death in the Family was very different. I’ve forged great memories of the creative process. Improving my planning made a significant difference – as did finding a fantastic editor. This time around I also had the support of authors and readers I befriended following the release of Relative Strangers – that helped a lot! There are far too many to name, though I have acknowledged a few in the acknowledgements in the soon to be released sequel, Death in the Family.
I’ve learned some important lessons about writing a series along the way. Some of them about myself, others about my art. Here are just a few:
- Have an overall vision of where you want your characters to go. What’s the overall lesson or journey they will undertake through the course of the series.
- Keep proper notes of recurring elements and their features – characters, locations, appearance.
- Take time to plan at least an outline story before pen even touches paper.
- Choose cover designers who understand your vision and can commit to producing covers for each book in the series.
- Use some form of version control for your drafts. Scenes you delete now might be good to use in future books.
- Ask critical friends of other beta readers to take a look at a draft at an early stage. Try to use those who have read other books – to check for consistency. Also use those who haven’t, to ensure it makes sense to those who haven’t.
- Release books close together. You will have more success if people can move on to one book straight after the other. Sit on your hands if you have to, to prevent out hitting that ‘publish button on the first one.
- Read other series in your genre – get a feel for what readers expect, what sells and what won’t.
- Network with other authors and with creators of other series in particular. Writers are a friendly bunch and will happily share tips on marketing and craft, or just a hefty heap of motivation.
- Set yourselves some milestones. When will you finish each book? Will it be something that is wrapped up within 3/4/5 books, or will the books just keep going until you run out of steam? Once you’ve finished, how will you reward yourself (a nice meal out is always a good treat I think!)? Writing a series is a bit of a marathon, you’ll need to keep yourself motivated with little wins to enjoy along the way.
So, there you have it, my lessons so far. I’m sure these will evolve over time. Please let me know if there are any you would like to share. Please leave a comment on the blog or pop over to mine and say hi.
Death in the Family will be available from Amazon 14th February – the perfect valentine gift for the vampire loving reader in your life! It is available for pre-order now. To celebrate the release, Relative Strangers will also be FREE to download from Amazon on 14th February.
Helen Treharne is the creator of the developing Sophie Morgan vampire series as well as short stories and other prose. Helen lives with her husband, three cats, an entrenched tea addiction and an increasing collection of stringed instruments. When she’s not writing, she spends her daytime hours working in communications and volunteers for a feline welfare charity. She also runs a very successful book blog, reviewing and promoting the work of other indie authors. She also can’t stop purchasing stationery. She can be found at her blog, Facebook page and on Twitter.
About jsherwin2013Jennie has a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in counseling. She is the author of Intentional Healing: One Woman’s Path to Higher Consciousness and Freedom from Environmental and Other Chronic Illnesses and is a contributing writer to Conscious Life News. She has been a teacher of English on the junior high school and senior high school levels, as well as a writer and editor in the field of public health. She has mentored writers and editors. She is certified in Reiki I and II and has studied energy therapies at A Healing Place in Richardson, Texas, working under the direction of Deborah Singleton and her healing team. Jennie also acknowledges the guidance of Christine Gregg, Australian spirit reader and healer, and Maya Page, intuitive healer, Reiki Master, and VortexHealing® practitioner, now retired. Jennie lives in Baltimore, Maryland, with her husband, Roger, a retired physician and epidemiologist. They provide editorial services to university researchers in the fields of medicine and public health. Her son, Colin, lives and works in New York City with his wife, Colleen.
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