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Guest Post: The Challenges of Writing a Series by Tori L. Ridgewood, Author of Wind and Shadow

Monday, December 30, 2013

Today, I'm featuring this Guest Post by author Tori L. Ridgewood where she talks about the trials and tribulations of a writer planning her new series and how the authors can be more organized while planning one of their own. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did. Also find the info on Wind and Shadow and how to connect with the author.
The Challenges of Writing a Series

    I never imagined that my first foray into the publishing world would be with a series.

    But I never thought it would be with a paranormal romance, either.

    At the end of the first book, I looked ahead to the second and third and wondered how in the world I was ever going to complete them. Finishing the second was helpful, though, as well as writing a prequel novella. And as I approach the mid-point of the final novel, ideas for other works that branch off the original keep coming to me, even though I’ve vowed that once the third book is done, I will move on to other projects.

    The first difficulty I found with writing a series was not in making sure I had enough material -- it was having too much for a single novel that led me to prepare for books two and three in the beginning. The trouble lay in deciding where to end the first book so that it could stand alone to some extent, but also encourage readers to look for the next installment. Book One therefore ends rather like Gone with the Wind -- it has a cliffhanger, but one that suggests where the characters are going next.
    Another issue I soon discovered was in keeping track of details: the cast of characters, and each individual’s physical and personality traits; the boundaries of the supernatural in which I was crafting my story; the events of the plot, and the locations important to the plot. I made some notes before and during the first draft of Wind and Shadow, and writing the prequel novella for the trilogy helped me to answer questions and get through a period of writer’s block. However, when it came to working on the second book, Blood and Fire, I began to regret not having made copious notes before the manuscript was underway. I ended up having to take the time to go through the other pieces, gathering vital statistics and nuggets of precious information, in order to maintain continuity. And even then, as I’ve been writing the third book and completing edits on Book Two, I’ve found mistakes in little things like the colour of an antagonist’s hair, or eyes that have changed shades.

    If you choose to write a series, make sure you keep track of those finicky details. You will save yourself much time and frustration later.

    Finally, I found it difficult to keep the challenges running for my characters. As Book Three has formed, I have realized that the climax was approaching too soon for my own satisfaction, so I’ve diverged from my original outline, looking at the issues in the plot that I didn’t consider before. The worst that can happen in writing a series is that the characters’ dilemmas become stale and repetitive. Each installment needs to up the ante, challenging the status quo and inventing new ways for the characters to get into trouble, discover truths about themselves, develop relationships, and explore the world.
    And, I suppose, that means the writer avoids getting bored with the series as well.

    I remember reading that L.M. Montgomery, one of my favourite authors, was bored with the Green Gables books soon after her third or fourth novel was completed, but her fans and publishers demanded that she continue to produce installments. She did so, diligently finding awkward situations for Anne Shirley and expanding her knowledge and experience in the world. Even though her prose remained solid, it’s clear that her interest in the story fell sharply and her love for the work was strained. Montgomery had other, brief series -- Emily of New Moon and The Story Girl -- in which she fed her need for novelty and fresh expression. I think that’s part of the key of writing a series successfully. An author has to be intrinsically inspired, writing for the self first, in order for the work to be truly satisfying. When the reader knows the writer loved the experience and is happy with the story, it’s obvious in the words.

    A natural pitfall, then, in writing series is in writing only for the fans. There is something to be said in doing service for the fans, who certainly help to buffer a writer’s spirits and give us something to strive for, but when a writer begins to reach for plot or characters only to keep the story going at the request of the readers, it can damage the whole. Everything ends, at some point. Stories are not meant to carry on forever, and while it can be sad or a frustration when a favourite series comes to a close, it’s also an invitation to go back over the whole and read it again.

    So if you choose to write a series, remember that it will end, even when it seems interminable. Keep track of your details. And explore ways to challenge yourself and your characters, playing with twists and the unexpected -- the more you enjoy each installment, the more your readers will, too.

    Thank you for having me on Punya Reviews...!
Wind and Shadow
Tori L. Ridgewood
(The Talbot Trilogy #1)
Published in June 20, 2013 from Melange Books

After a series of misadventures including being accused of attempted murder in high school, Rayvin Woods, a photographer and natural witch, left her hometown of Talbot in Northeastern Ontario, hoping to start her life over and never return. Ten years later, circumstances force her back to face her past and her former crush Grant Michaels.

Malcolm de Sade, a cunning vampire, escapes from an underground prison looking for vengeance. His accidental release unleashes his hunger and ambition on a small, sleepy town. Rayvin’s power is all that stands between de Sade and his domination of Talbot, and beyond.

Grant Michaels, a police officer, thought Rayvin was a murderer. He will do whatever it takes to protect the community he loves from danger... but will he learn to trust his heart, and the word of a witch, before it's too late?

Rayvin didn't count on rekindling a lost love or battling a malevolent vampire and his coven for her life when she came home to Talbot. Facing the past can be a nightmare… It’s worse when a vampire is stalking you.

Buy Link:

About the Author:

After her first heartbreak, Tori found solace in two things: reading romance novels and listening to an after-dark radio program called Lovers and Other Strangers. Throughout the summer and fall of 1990, the new kid in town found reading fiction and writing her own short stories gave her a much needed creative outlet. Determined to become a published author, Tori amassed stacks of notebooks and boxes of filed-away stories, most only half-finished before another idea would overtake her and demand to be written down. Then, while on parental leave with her second baby, one story formed and refused to be packed away. Between teaching full-time, parenting, and life in general, it would take almost seven years before the first novel in her first trilogy would be completed. In the process, Tori finally found her stride as a writer.

At present, on her off-time, Tori not only enjoys reading, but also listening to an eclectic mix of music as she walks the family dog (Skittles), attempts to turn her thumb green, or makes needlework gifts for her friends and family members. She loves to travel, collect and make miniature furniture, and a good cup of tea during a thunderstorm or a blizzard. Under it all, she is always intrigued by history, the supernatural, vampire and shapeshifter mythology, romance, and other dangers.

Tori is currently working on Crystal and Wand: Book Three of The Talbot Trilogy. She lives in Kirkland Lake, Ontario, Canadawith her husband and two children. She is a full-time teacher at a local high school.

Author Links:

(Note: the above Guest Post + Promo info was sent to me from Book Publicity Services. ~Punya)


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