This week, I’m proud to host Madelyn Hill, who writes historical romance with heart, courage, and Highlanders. She’s mixing it up today by giving us her insights on writing a series – and a handy list of mistakes to avoid! Personally, I’m thrilled to have this as I wrestle with plans for my own two series.
So grab your favorite drink and take a sip or two as you read about the rewards and challenges of writing a romance series, and learn a little about Madelyn’s latest release, Highland Faith.
Writing one book is hard. A fabulous idea pops into your head and you begin to plot or just write (if you are a pantser like me). And you continue writing, editing, researching—and then at some point in the book, (the middle for me!) you lose sight of the end, the goals and motivation of the characters and the conflict. You question yourself – is my conflict strong enough? Do the characters make sense, have chemistry? Have I just wasted hours and hours writing this drivel? But when that book is one of a series, you have just complicated your work exponentially.
Writing a series takes much more planning, plot development, and creation of characters who can carry a series. For my Wild Thistle Trilogy, the story starts with a prologue from the three heroines’ childhood. The reader has a glimpse of the personalities and responsibilities that will befall our heroines at a young age. Especially when their dying father utters the words, “Remember, through Hope, Faith, and Honor, ye can rule.” Each heroine leads one of the books in the trilogy and the reader understands how each character interprets and executes their father’s dying pledge.
Keeping the facts and history straight throughout three books is not a task for the weary. I created several notes and as things changed through the editing process, I had to ensure I made those same changes to the other books. Also, as a writer, sometimes our muse likes to take a u-turn or detour. This can be problematic with a series because you have already established specific norms in the preceding books.
Some things to keep in mind when writing a series (adapted from NowNovel – How to write a series: 8 novice mistakes to avoid)
- Don’t choose a story concept that can’t stretch across multiple books – could I have added another sister or brother? Sure, but then the father’s pledge would have been ridiculously long and the symbol of three was important to my trilogy.
- Don’t keep your series going if you’ve run out of ideas – there are many series out there that are on the twentieth or more book in the series. With a talented author, this is great. But, sometimes things begin to repeat themselves and this bores the reader.
- Don’t forget to plan ahead and know where your series might end – with a trilogy, it was easy, I knew the story had to end at three books.
- Don’t ignore the passage of time in your series – I found that I had trouble with this. I needed to have time pass and keep the flow and pace of the story steady. Luckily I had a wonderful editor who pointed this out to me.
- Don’t be inconsistent with your series’ details – my desk is littered with post-it notes and I put notes at the beginning of each manuscript so I can quickly look at details. Readers will notice any inconsistency.
- Don’t be so consistent that there’s no intrigue and change – this is so true. You do not want to bore the reader. My heroines are all strong in their own way and each have different goals, motivation, and conflict even though they all wish to fulfill their father’s dying pledge.
- Don’t abandon important multi-novel plot arcs – with a trilogy this wasn’t difficult to remember, but when you think of series such as the Stephanie Plum series, there are continuing plot arcs such as her relationship with her family and love interest that co-exist with the mystery. They make the character who she is and it needs to continue in each story.
- Don’t make your fictional world too limited – if you do, you will limit the realistic length you can continue your series.
A Bit About Highland Faith:
Huntress Lady Faith MacAlister seeks adventure. Her father’s dying pledge tethers her to Wild Thistle Keep, thwarting her desire to explore the world beyond the palisade. Solace is found while hunting and providing sustenance for her clan. When snatched from the safety of MacAlister lands by a rogue bent on securing a ransom, she finds the adventure of her life.
Disgraced Captain Graeme Ross travels the high seas in search of bounty to sell in order to secure lands seized by the Crown. He longs to regain his honor in his father’s eyes and continually risks his life on the high seas. Lacking enough funds, Graeme and his crew follow Lady Faith MacAlister as she hunts. Out of need and desire, he kidnaps her. The lady captivates him for the moment he laid eyes upon her. Bold and spirited, she fights him. When he negotiates a ransom, deception tears the burgeoning romance apart.
Now, Lady Faith and Captain Ross seek to settle those differences hindering their union, despite the stretch of land and sea—and angry Highlanders standing between them.
Find Highland Faith here!:
A Bit About Madelyn:
Madelyn Hill has always loved the written word. From the time she could read and all through her school years, she’d sneak books into her textbooks during school. And she devoured books daily. At the age of 10 she proclaimed she wanted to be a writer. After being a “closet” writer for several years, she sent her manuscripts out there and is now published with Soul Mate Publishing. And she couldn’t be happier! A resident of Western New York, she moved from one Rochester to another Rochester to be with the love of her life. They now have 3 children and keep busy cooking, watching their children’s sporting events, and of course reading!
Want to connect further with Madelyn? Find her here:
Thanks so much for joining us, Madelyn – it was a delight to have you here!