Writing a series is like when a dinner guest becomes a roommate. Writing the first book is like having a dinner party with exciting and stimulating guests, carefully planned menu, atmosphere – but the guests get to go home. And you get to put your feet up and relax. Writing a series, the guests stay permanently. You have to think of exciting things for them to do, vary the menu, invite different guests for them to play with.” — Rebecca Forster
The Lynton Series so far.
Four books set in a fictional city in New Hampshire centered around the lives of a group of women brought together by fate. That was the plan. At the time, I had no idea how ambitious an undertaking it was for a first-time writer.
I am a series reader and have been since being introduced as a child to The Bobbsey Twins, Nancy Drew, and Trixie Belden. I love to follow the characters and I hate it when a series ends. I miss them.
Recently, I re-read (I think I already told you that I am a dedicated re-reader of long-standing) the Tradd Street Series written by Karen White. There are five books in the series and I am hoping she will keep going because I want to know more about what Mellie and Jack are doing. The series is set in Charleston. If you like ghosts and quirky characters, these books are a treat not to be missed.
This second time I read the books as a writer not as a reader and I learned a lot about what it takes to write a successful series. The biggest “Ah ha!” I had was the need to stay with the characters you start out with. In The Lynton Series this would be: Brid, Franny, Sofia, Neil and Brendan.
Maggie’s Girls, the story I have been writing (and fighting with) for the last year, doesn’t follow this rule. The story introduces a new main character along with her complicated family and friends. The usual Lynton ladies do make an appearance but only in supporting roles. Having read the Tradd Street Series again, along with readers often asking me what is happening with Franny and Nick, I realized this was not the right book to be number three in the series.
The wonderful thing about writing fiction is very little is ever completely lost. Writers smush things together and move them around or, worst case, shove them in a drawer. I intend to come back to Maggie’s Girls one day.
Book Three, as yet unnamed, will focus on where the relationship between Nick and Franny is going. Brid, Sofia, and Lilah will have a lot to say. As Rebecca Forster indicates in the above quote, I will have to think of exciting things for them to do and maybe sneak in a new face or two along the way. Faces that I have been writing about in Maggie’s Girls.
Meanwhile, the Muse is delighted that I have finally figured out what was she tells me was obvious to HER and I am tapping away at the keys once again.