Friday, August 8, 2008
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?