September 1, 2017

Writing in Series

By Robin E. Mason

I didn’t think about a series when I wrote the first words of my debut novel. All I knew was there was a story inside me that had to get out—the characters were talking and would not be silent.

Fast forward. Tessa was published for Kindle in March of 2014. I was clueless about anything to do with publishing; a friend formatted and uploaded it for me. By August I knew I needed print books to do author events, and on 31 October, my book was officially in print.

And people read it. And they asked if there was a sequel. When I looked, there in two specific places, one at the beginning and one near the end, the story pointed right at Clara Bess. I had trouble getting her story off the ground, though, because the third book, Cissy, was hanging around already, too. I cut 5000 words and saved them for later.

That story is seven generations, covering 150 years, and I made obsequious notes on who’s who (family tree) and who brought what to the pot luck (most of which never made it to print.)

So here’s what I’ve gleaned about writing in series from a Pantzer’s point of view.
1.      Have a solid story.
2.      Because I’m a Pantzer, I make note of details as I write them. i.e. hair color, favorite food, birthdate, pets, music, and songs, etc.
3.      In both series’ I have made a family tree of key characters. I learned that my four MC’s in the new series are, in fact, related. (shhh, that’s a secret)
4.      Google maps. I have “borrowed” three towns now to create my own. First two were in the mountains, so I needed to know where the hills were and not put the city park on a cliff. (conversely, Cissy liked to teeter on the edge of the cliff… ) I draw out the streets and make note of street names, and which business is where—even if that business never has a role in the final story. But I know if Mercedes is walking past the barber or the church.
5.      I print a calendar for the years of my stories, currently 1912 and 1913 so I know if Pearl’s birthday is on a Sunday (it was.) Because this series is such a tight time frame, I printed out the days in list format to make notes of who met with whom on which day, and which conversation happened when, and other such major events.
6.      Keep a doc of names in fitting with setting and time. The town clings to its French heritage and ancestry, and many of the characters names are French. The town itself, Saisons, is French.

Basically, if it pertains to your story and there is any possibility it might show up or be needed later (and it probably will) WRITE.IT.DOWN. “I’ve always had voices—er, stories in my head. I once said I should write them all down so someone could write them someday. I had no idea at the time that someone was me!”
Robin E. Mason has been writing since 1995, and began working in earnest on her debut novel, Tessa, in 2013.  Meanwhile, she cranked out a few dozen poems, made countless notes for story ideas, and earned her BFA in Interior Design.  Ms. Mason lived with depression for many years, and the inherent feelings of worthlessness and invisibility; she didn’t want to be who she was and struggled with her own identity for many years.  Her characters face many of these same demons. Ms. Mason writes stories of identity conflict. Her characters encounter situations that force the question, “Who am I really?” For all who have ever wondered who you are or why you’re here, her stories will touch you in a very real—maybe too real—and a very deep way. “I know, I write from experience.”Ms. Mason has three novels published, the unsavory heritage series. Tessa, Clara Bess, and Cissy are available on Amazon, both for Kindle and in print. She also has several poems included in an anthology, Where Dreams and Visions Live (Anthologies of the Heart Book 1) by Mary Blowers, as well as a short story, Sarafina’s Light, also in an anthology, Blood Moon, compiled by Mary Blowers. She is currently working on The Tilting Leaves of Autumn, Book Two in her new series, Seasons. It releases in November, following The Long Shadows of Summer which releases in August. Books 3 and 4 in the series will be out in 2018. Her social media links are;

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