The Pitfalls to Writing a Series by Becky Lower
The Pitfalls To Writing A Series
by Becky Lower
Most authors, whether traditionally published or self-published, are aware that writing a series makes good business sense. Even books that are written as a stand-alone can benefit by tagging on a second one, or a third. Regardless of the type of romance you write, there is a certain amount of laying of the groundwork in your first book. You establish where the story is to take place and spend a considerable number of words developing the town, suburb or frontier. If you’re writing paranormal, you might even have to create an alternate universe for your story. Whatever your setting, it’s important to make it as much a character of the story as your hero and heroine.
So, it makes great sense to take all the hard work you’ve put into creating your backdrop and use it over and over with each new book. That’s the upside to writing a series. So what’s the downside? I’m glad you asked.
Most series books have two main characters and then all these secondary characters, who play into the story in some form or fashion. They may move the story along by giving your main characters a sounding board, or they may play a part in a pivotal plot point. But beware of their actions! The last thing you want to do is to paint your characters—primary or secondary—into a corner from which they can’t escape. At least, not without some serious character development.
The main character for The Tempestuous Debutante is an identical twin of the main character in the second book, The Abolitionist’s Secret. Jasmine played a role in a pivotal plot development in the second book, and I had readers send me emails telling me how awful she was and they hoped she’d never get her own book. I gratefully devoured these emails, since it meant I had done my job and created a memorable character. But the drawback to all that animosity meant I needed to give my faithful readers some time to forget just how evil Jasmine had been. I rearranged the order of my books and wrote about one of the brothers before I wrote Jasmine’s story. And I worked really hard to make Jasmine someone to root for in her book.
So, be careful how you use your secondary characters. Their actions may come back to bite you in the end. I highly recommend you plot out, in vague form, at least, all the books in the series and how the actions of each character in each book will affect the story when it comes time for them to be the highlighted person.
Tricia: Becky, thank you so much for your wonderful article. You've given some excellent advise many authors (including myself) will benefit from. Let's talk about your series. Can you tell us about your most recent release?
Becky: The Tempestuous Debutante is the fourth book in a proposed nine-book series about the large Fitzpatrick family, who inhabit the upper class of New York society in the 1850s. The impending Civil War is a constant source of discussion, and the financial crisis which will accompany the war is just beginning to be felt. It is against this rich backdrop of events that I place my characters.
Tricia: How did you get the idea for the series?
Becky: The series came about after devouring Julia Quinn's Bridgerton series. I loved the idea of the Cotillion being the central thread but didn't want to write about England. I much prefer writing about my own country. So, I did some research on when the Cotillion was introduced into American society (1854) and went from there.
Tricia: If you could recommend just one of your books to my readers, which book would you choose?
Becky: Although all my books can be read independently, I recommend starting at the beginning, with The Reluctant Debutante. The entire family is introduced in the first book, and you gain a true sense of the parents and the siblings. And, you can decide which character's story you most want to read.
Tricia: What projects are you currently working on?
Becky: I am working on the fifth book in the series right now. Halwyn, the eldest brother, is the topic for this one, and it's going to be a great story, if I can ever finish it. I'm also working on a contemporary short story for a Christmas anthology.
Tricia: Thank you for visiting with us, Becky. For those readers who would like to learn more about Becky Lower, please visit the following links:
The Tempestuous Debutante
It’s Jasmine Fitzpatrick’s year to shine at this season’s Cotillion and men will be throwing themselves at her. But she sets her sights on a man she’s never met, the Viscount of Foxborough. He’s wealthy and has an English title. Only a few things stand in her way: a wealthy, young, beautiful widow who captures the viscount’s attention immediately, her fear of riding horses when he owns a breeding stable and racetrack, and the viscount’s stableboy, Parr.
Parr O'Shaughnessy loses his heart to Jasmine the moment he meets her. However, he has no title to interest her. He left behind an impoverished existence in Ireland when the viscount offered to bring him and his famous horse to America to build a dynasty together. He believes Jasmine barely noticed him when she was introduced--she only had eyes for the viscount. He struggles with his loyalty to the viscount and his love for Jasmine. But winning her love might mean losing all he has worked for.
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