Writing Series

I love reading series books. I’m not talking Harry Potter series (FYI, I’m a huge Potterhead, but completely different than what I’m getting at). I’m talking the ones where the story is focused on one couple, but the secondary characters come to life in the background and you find yourself itching to read their story. I LOVE that.

Karen Marie Moning was one of the first authors to grab me into series. I did a bad thing and read To Tame a Highland Warrior first, then read Beyond the Highland Mist. Although Hawk and Adrienne’s part was small in Grimm’s story it was just enough to intrigue me to go back and see how their story unfolded. As for the MacKelter series, I started with book one and didn’t stop until the last page of the last book. I looked forward to seeing the characters whose stories I had finished. I’d find myself smiling and thinking, Ah Drustan, it’s so good to see you again. Dagues, how is my dark highlander. Oh, I see life is wonderful for you guys. That’s awesome.

Cheesy, I know, but there is something in revisiting characters in later books that I love. It’s like checking in with an old friend.

I also love those series where there are two characters lurking in the background and the author, throughout a number of books, puts them together and sets the motion in place for their story. The best example I can think of is Brenda Joyce’s The de Warenne Dynasty. I loved each of these books, but there was one brother who stood out, Rex de Warenne. Man. He’d maybe step onto the page four times in each book, but in those brief glimpses, I was hooked. The same with the eventual heroine, Lady Blanche Harrington. To be honest, I don’t think these two even had a conversation until their story came to be. But the way she wrote the two of them together in a room, I had no doubt they would have a romance of their own one day. And I so looked forward to it. I found myself anticipating those little scenes between the two of them, just a look, a weird tinge when she found him staring at her, he’s jaw tightening when she was talking to another man. It all left me wanting more.

So why am I blathering on about this? I have a point. Promise.

I have always wanted to write a series. After writing numerous short stories and two novel lengths, I’ve finally come up with a series idea I want to take a stab at. In my novel lengths, I have secondaries. But it was never my intention to write their stories. I was focused solely on the couple of the book. The secondary characters were there to help aid in that progression, provide a little comic relief and fill out my hero and heroine into real people. People loved them but weren’t begging for more of them if you get my drift.

Now I find myself in a quandary. For the first time, I am writing a story with the intention of every male friend of my hero to get their own story. It’s much harder than I expected. Much harder. How much is too much? When does it start to feel like I am forcing the characters on you? Etc.

I have a newfound respect for those who write multiple books with the same characters. In my head, I thought it would be somewhat easier. I have this cast that I will get to know extremely well, know them inside and out, so their stories will just flow. Yeah, so not happening that way. Because I know I want to write the friends story, I find myself hesitating more, worried that somehow I making it feel like I WANT to write a series instead of it coming naturally and making the reader WANT more. Does that make sense?

I’ve never hesitated with secondary characters before, they’ve just blossomed on the page and taken a life of their own. So this is an odd feeling for me.

So, for anyone out there that has written a series, any advice?


Nicole North said...

Great post! I'm a fan of Karen Marie Moning's Highlander series too! And I love writing series of this type myself. I'm not sure if I have advice, but usually what I've found is that when I started the first book I wasn't planning a series. But once I got into it or near the end I realized how I could write a second or third related story, either because of a secondary character who came to life in the book or because of a plot twist. My "in a Kilt" series came about because of a plot twist. The villianess of story one escaped, and the hero had two friends in the same situation as he was, though they were not in the first story. I only mentioned them very briefly. In another novel I wrote, the hero's brother burst onto the scene so vividly I knew I had to write his story. And from his story I can possibly see two more stories springing up. I think each person may do this differently.

Natasha Moore said...

No advice, but I've had readers asking about a story about secondary characters from Chains of Desire. I'm looking forward to writing their story.

Carol Ericson said...

Esme, I'm writing the 4th book in my McClintock Brothers series for Harlequin Intrigue. It's a little different for category romance because we don't delve into secondary characters much. This actually makes things easier - I just introduce the brother who's going to get the next book but he doesn't get that much detail - mostly I give a sense of his character or what his particular issues might be. For the 4th book in the series, the readers haven't even met this brother - he's an illegitimate half-brother to the other three and they've just referred to him. His first visit with his brothers happens "off camera" but then he has to go back to protect a local woman he's fallen for.