Perry specifically asked me to write a post about planning out series’ when she first was looking for writers. Then a week or two later, she asked again because someone else had asked for a blog post about it. So here I am to tell you my convoluted journey through writing/planning a total of 6 series’. Most of those series’ have only been barely planned.
(Note: All of the series’ I mention are for books that are standalones.)
Hymns of the West
A.K.A. The Beginning
When I started writing A Mighty Fortress, I didn’t have a title for the book, let alone the idea that this book would start a series. One of my beta-readers then was asked what the next book was about. I kind of blew it off, but it also got my brain thinking and I came up with an idea. That ended up becoming book 5 in the series. As I wrote each book, I didn’t really have any solid plans for how many books there would be in the series, what, or who, they would be about, or anything like that. In fact, it wasn’t until I wrote the epilogue to book 5 that I decided that would be a good ending to the series.
Did it work? Mostly, yes. There’s just one thing I would have changed if I could. I have two characters named Miles and Micah and they end up in the same town at the same time and interact with each other. It was confusing to me as an author, so I can only imagine what it was like for my readers. Thankfully, they weren’t together too much. But since I had already written about them both (separately, in separate states) in books 1, 2, and 3, I couldn’t just change one of their names in book 4.
Hymns of the West Novellas
My novellas spin-off series had a tiny bit more planning since I already knew a little bit about the main characters in each of the novellas. My main planning for the first three which are spin-offs of Amazing Grace (Hymns of the West #3) was to make sure the names stayed the same, the mail order bride ad stayed the same, and for book 1, that the scene that is in both the novel and the novella stayed the same just from a different point of view (POV).
For the last three novellas, spin-offs of The Solid Rock (Hymns of the West #5), I had to be a little more careful since the beginning of their stories was very similar since all five main characters were part of the same adventure for a few chapters. I also included some info from The Solid Rock, so I had to make sure that all stayed accurate. Keeping all the information straight was hard and I did okay with it, but I should have tried to make a better timeline to make sure everything stayed perfectly accurate from one book to the other.
Orphans of the West, Soldiers of the West, and Treasures of the West
I’ve done more planning for the next three series’ I plan to write. Part of this is because I have decided to connect all five series’ together to continue multiple family lines through the years. Orphans of the West is about four of the orphans introduced in either the Hymns of the West novels or novellas, Soldiers of the West will be about the descendants of the characters in the three previous series’ during WWI and WWII and Treasures of the West will be a contemporary trilogy.
While planning these next series’, I’ve started trying to figure out a few different methods to keep everybody straight and not mess any timelines up. I honestly haven’t figured out how to do that yet. I may have to take a month or two this Spring/Summer to read through my published books and then find a way to keep track of who was born when and who married whom when, etc. I’m thinking of trying to use an excel spreadsheet for that.
I don’t know if this really helped much, but hopefully you were able to glean a few tips from it. If you have any other tips, feel free to mention them in the comments.
(Apple image credit: jarmoluk / Pixabay)