The Trouble with Writing a Series (and How My Characters Like to be Big Pains)

Did you know? Everyone is writing series these days. I do mean everyone. Publishing houses love when you have a trilogy or a series to sell, though they prefer that the books have all been written before you query about them. And the piece of advice I see tossed around most often in writers groups on Facebook is, "Just write a series" or "Just write the sequel". Believe it or not, this is way easier said than done.

Didn't you bring the map?

Whether you're writing an interconnected series,  a la Harry Potter or The Dark Tower, or a series with mainly standalone books and a few interconnected books, a la Dragonlance or my series, there's actual planning that needs to happen. If you're a non-planner like me (I loathe outlining), you can easily get off track with timelines between one book and the next, and how actions one character takes in one book affects another character in another book.

I actually have to take notes to keep track of everything. (GASP!)

What could possibly go wrong?

Because I hadn't originally planned out books 3 and 4 when I wrote book 2, I suddenly realized I might have a timeline problem while working on book 3 last week. There's a comment Thystle made to herself in book 2 that threw off my original understanding of the timeline in books 3 and 4. So, I had to figure out how to compensate for that.

Yesterday, I realized that the original ending I'd written to book 3 couldn't be the ending to book 3 after all. It adversely affected part of book 4, which is the first part in an interconnected three-book story arc. So, the ending of book 3 has to be re-written, which has caused some stress for me, even though I'm not even at the end yet. (I often write out of order.)

I also realized that certain integral pieces of the plot for book 3 weren't falling into place where I thought they would, thanks to the direction my characters were taking (dragging) me in. I suddenly couldn't figure out how those missing pieces were going to make it into the book.

This led me to today's issue.

Yeah, don't ask me . . . Ask someone else.

I sat down to book 3 today, looked at what I had started yesterday when the aforementioned missing plot pieces came up, and nothing. Literally. I had no idea where I was going next, and my characters were just sitting there, staring at each other blankly.

I said, "Give me a direction. One of you."

Aeryn and Theo just shook their heads.

I looked at Thystle.

She shrugged and said, "Yeah, don't ask me. I've got no clue." And that was that.

This doesn't happen to me often. As I've said before, I don't really get writer's block. But there it was: a block. A big one.

I didn't panic. I posted something witty to Facebook and then went for a walk. By the time I came back, I was less blocked. I'm still not sure what I'll do with the end, but I trust my characters will tell me what to do once I get there.

They always do. I just have to trust them. I say this with a squinty eye aimed at Thystle.


. . . I think she just threw me the finger.


A chilly weekend is coming. Get your hands on the "intense" and "unforgettable" sword and sorcery dark fantasy novel everyone is raving about.