Friday, July 20

Writers: How To Keep Your Series Straight

Last year Anne Perry was one of the keynote speakers at the Surrey International Writers' Conference--she was completely amazing--and I had the privilege of attending one of her writing workshops.

Ms. Perry spoke at some length about her Charlotte and Thomas Pitt series and I wanted to ask how she kept track of characters, their arcs and whatnot, over the course of many books. Alas, I didn't get the chance, but the question has stayed with me.

Today, Elizabeth S. Craig blogged about tips and tricks she uses, not to write multiple books in one series, but to write multiple series at the same time. Here's what she had to say (I'm paraphrasing):

1. Stagger your deadlines
You don't want to have each book coming due at the same time. That would be stressful and extremely confusing.

2. Re-read the series
Before you start writing the next book in a series familiarize yourself again with the previous books.

3. Develop a style sheet for each series
A style sheet should include:
- character names, descriptions, ages
- the names of businesses mentioned in your series
- a list of the connections/relationships between your characters, etc.

4. Listen to your readers
Elizabeth keeps a file filled with feedback from readers, what they liked, what they didn't, and she looks at this before she begins the next book in the series.

5. Write quickly
If you write quickly there's won't be time for writer's block to set in and you'll be able to keep everything fresh in your mind.

6. Keep all the facts of a series at your fingertips
Keep each book in each of your series in a searchable file. Not sure which character is allergic to peanuts? If you're writing more than one series at a time small details can begin to blur, or you can mistakenly put a character from one series into another.

Having each of your books on your hard drive enables you to search for details like this and saves you a lot of time in rewrites later on.

To read Elizabeth's article go here: Tips for Writing Multiple Series.

Great tips! One day I want to develop a really good style sheet for characters and their relationships. I find a style sheet is especially handy when something has interrupted my writing mid-way through a story and I need to pick up the thread again. Or, as Elizabeth says, to help me remember characters and their many transformations across the span of several books.

I hope these tips have been some use to you and, if you haven't all ready, don't forget to check out Elizabeth S. Craig's many wonderful books.


Related reading:
- How To Sell 100 Books Per Day: 6 Things You Need To Do
- Why Writers Need Editors
- Scrivener: A Writer's Best Friend


  1. I think numbers two and three are the key points. It can be very easy to forget things and mix up stuff with other things you're writing. That could lead to confusing material for the reader.

  2. Yes it could! I'm amazed more writers don't make mistakes. Yes, that's what we hire editors for, but it still amazes me.


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