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“You enter the extraordinary by way of the ordinary.” ~Frederick Buechner

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Reading For Craft

Writing a Series
Not only does writing one novel require creativity, stamina, and endurance to reach publishable quality, but writing a series can be like juggling multiple eggs on an ice rink. Just one slip can create a crack that runs throughout the whole series. Often writers don’t realize that one novel is about to become a series and have to learn to balance along the way. Or read, Writing the Fiction Series: The Guide for Novels and Novellas by Karen S. Wiesner.

Not only does this book fill in a long overdue gap in craft skills for novel writers, but it also delivers. Although I knew a preview copy was enroute, I couldn’t wait so purchased the kindle copy to get started. And I stayed up very late my first night reading. This does not happen very often with craft books. In fact only a few of the writing books I read make it to my column.

Wiesner is also the author of First Draft in 30 Day, and from First Draft to Finished Novel. One ongoing feature of her books is her inclusion of practical, accessible, worksheets and graphs. Organizing one novel can be daunting at times let alone a series. Weisner skillfully blends the organizational skills together into comprehensive sanity. Although, here I do need to note that the sketches and outlines didn’t always show up well on the e-book version. The print copy is much better at the design layout for easier reading.

In Writing the Fiction Series she extends her additional resources first, by including ongoing advice and encouragement from series authors and publishers across multiple genres, and second, by making the full interviews available on her website. There are over one hundred. This is a field that is vibrant and hungry for good writing.

And that is the key behind this book: writing a quality series. Wiesner details the definitions, catalyst, styles, focus, organization, and marketing required for any series by showing explicit examples, case studies and stumbling blocks. She thoroughly examines and warns about the importance of characters and consistency when writing across extended novels. On the surface this might seem to be common sense, but in reality it is a danger that can sink your series, and/or lose future readers.

I happened to be doing novella research of my own on three separate series in different genres and applied Wiesner’s criteria. Some were written by the same author and some by multiple authors. Each book did a good story individually. Every series tripped up. One I tracked for location ties, one for character, and one for premise, an ongoing mystery. The mystery series in particular had all kinds of inconsistencies—the worst being the last book mischaracterized an earlier murder altogether. Not a good way to finalize a series and hope readers will return for the next.

Writing the Fiction Series warns you of the potential landmines and shows you navigable routes to write a sustainable high-concept fiction series and enjoy the process. Advice that is long overdue. Advice that is fun to implement.

Share: Have you ever stopped reading a series you really liked at the beginning? Why?

Read deep, marcy

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