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Friday, August 8, 2008

Freestyle Friday


I love reading series novels. It's so fun getting caught up in a fictional world and getting to know characters you'll be visiting again in future books. The anticipation that comes with a series is intoxicating. You watch for news about that author to find out when the next book releases so that you can be first in line to buy it hot off the shelf.

So it's no wonder I like to write these kinds of books. I had a paranormal mystery series started a few years ago, and when book one was finished, I immediately launched into writing book two. I was so sure it would sell. I'd been working with an agent for several months on revisions, so I thought that once we were done, she'd agree to represent me. But she didn't. And I couldn't drum up any more interest from other agents. I was a hundred pages into the second book, and I lost steam once I accepted the fact that book one was going nowhere.

I wrote a stand alone book after that, a romantic suspense novel that was tons of fun to write. Of course I had an idea for a second book set in the same story world, same characters, but with a new relationship between two secondaries, the brother and the woman ex-cultist who had unwittingly betrayed the hero and heroine. But with that book, I got no farther than a small press and I didn't have the motivation I needed to pursue my idea for book two in that series. Maybe someday in the future, after I get my rights back.

I learned two lessons: 1) Don't start writing book two until book one sells; 2) Write book one as if there will never be another book to follow it.

Then I write the book that got me my agent. Knight's Curse is an urban fantasy novel that's ripe for several sequels. But I haven't started writing book two. I learned my lesson, right? Wait until book one sells. Though ideas for books two and three are burning my brain, I've forced myself to ignore them. Instead, I've begun a new book for a new series--Mystic Taxi-- and it gives me butterflies just to think about it. So wouldn't you know that my agent sends me an email asking if I've started writing book two in my Knights series. *head desk*

Speaking of series novels, there was a fabulous article in the last RWR called "The New Romance." It's about series romance novels that don't always get the traditional happy ending. It's become a trend for a series to be about one main character's story continued over several books, and the reaction from readers has been very positive. I'm ecstatic about this! My novel isn't a romance, but it has a relationship with romantic tension being the strongest glue, and a promise of more to come in future books. Will they or won't they? Something tragic happens to the hero and he and my heroine are forced apart at the end, thus no happy ending. But that's okay! It's obvious their relationship is far from over.

With my interest in writing series fiction, I trolled the Internet for more information. Slim pickin's, let me tell you. But I did find an author's blog with a mini workshop that's perfect for any writer thinking about writing a series. The author's name is Kaye Dacus.

Kaye lays out the three different types of series books. First is the Spinoff, which reminds me of the continuity series of category fiction from Harlequin and Sillhouette. Same world, different stories and characters. Then there's the Serial novel that features one main character who has separate adventures in each book, like the alphabet mysteries by Sue Grafton. Last, we have the Sequel novel, which is the same principal as the trilogy, though the main story line can last across more than just three books. Epic fantasy novels are famous for this because the stories are so broad in scope, but other genres are fitting neatly into this sequel category as well.

I'm still gun-shy over starting book two in my Knights series, afraid I'll jinx myself. I'm going to play it cool until that contract happens. I have a strong feeling that this time it will. Even so, I'm sticking to my plan of getting a new series going before continuing on with the other one. Who says I can't write two series at once? *gulp*

What are your thoughts about series fiction? Is it a trend with a short fuse, or is it destined to blow up to be the next big thing? Are you writing one, and if so, which of the three types does your series fit into?

5 comments:

Nanci Block said...

Karen,

I love the idea of series fiction, and read several types. Nora Roberts is one of my favorite romance novels, and I love it when she starts a new trilogy. The most recent I am keeping up with is the Blood Brothers trilogy. More often than not, when I finish a trilogy I wish that the author would write more about these wonderful characters.
Another series I love is Harry Potter. I cried when I read Book 7, not only because of the impact of the book, but because I was saying goodbye to Harry Potter and the gang. I know many J.K. Rowling fans feel the same.
I also enjoy the novels by Marian Kayes, who wrote several novels revolving around the Sullivan girls. Each novel could stand on its own, but if you had read the others, you knew all the sisters' stories.
I tend to read for comfort and escape, so I like the familiarity of characters and places.
Thanks for the post!

Just_Me said...

I love series fiction. I don't think there's anything worse than falling in love with a group of characters only to learn that you will never see them again.

And I understand the temptation to write series. I'll start one book innocently enough, but half way through Book 2 will sneak in, promising me more time with chracters, beautiful plot lines, and wonderful things.

Right now I'm in the middle of editing two books. One could stand alone and would be better with the second novel. The other is a stand alone that I simply can't think of a Book 2 for it. Reading about your dillema makes me worry about which one I should try to query first. I suppose I'll just have to see how the edits go :o)

CalicoKelsey said...

I like how Holly Black did her series. Tithe, her first, stood alone, and so did her second, Valiant, but the third was the sequal of Tithe, but also featured some characters from Valiant. It was cool, because we knew all the secondary character's backstories, but even if we didn't, it didn't effect the plot that much.

Deborah Blake said...

Hi Karen,
I found you through the comments on QueryTracker. I hope your agent gets you a great deal!
I am shopping for an agent for my first novel, which is meant to be the first in a series. But, like you, I decided to hold off on book #2 until #1 sells (or at least I get an agent who tells me to start on 2). and I've started the new book, which also has potential for a series. [A modern Witch accidentally brings back King Arthur to save the world. Oops.]
I am going to do an outline for the 2nd book, just to keep the idea clear, but I'm switching my attention [and now for something completely different...] while the agent-search torture is on.

I'm rooting for you!
Deborah

Karen Duvall said...

With the urging of my agent, I'm going to write a synopsis for book 2 of my Knight series, but that's as far as I'll go for now. At least that way the plot for that book will leave me alone for a while. It's really been nagging at my brain.

Thanks, all, for your comments!