I’ve never been a plotter. When I write a synopsis for an unwritten book, it resembles a back cover blurb. My brain just shuts down and my imagination freezes when I try to think too far ahead in a story. And yet, when I started selling to NY publishers, I was urged by people who knew I wanted to build a career, and not just sell a book or two, to come up with a series idea. And of course, I froze. A series? Uhmm, I can’t even plot one book let alone a series!
No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t come up with a series idea. Everything sounded idiotic, or had been done, or my ideas could cover one book, but no way could they cover a series. I just couldn’t do it. I got down, I got a bit depressed, and I resigned myself to writing stand alone books. What was the big deal? Sure the trend was trilogies, or series, but the trend isn’t always the way to go. Especially if your mind is like mine, and it doesn’t always follow the same path everyone else’s does. Besides, plenty of authors have built careers on stand alone books. Yet now, almost nine years later, I look at the novels I’ve written and surprise, surprise, I see not one series, but Two!
And guess what? I’m actually aiming to continue one.
Okay, I admit it, everything you’ve read in this post before now was actually written in a post I wrote 5 years ago, All I did was change the 4 years to almost nine years…So what does that tell you? I know what it tells me.
I’m not a plotter. Seriously, what drew me to re-reading my old post was the fact that I’m trying to outline three more books in my Dungeon series and I’ve been struggling a bit. I know which characters I want to write, and I think I know what the stores will sort of be, and thats usually enough. Only this time I’m stuck because I can;t decide what order they should be in. Isn’t that silly? Part of it is that I know which one calls to me right now, and it’s not the one I’d “planned ” as the first one. I’d gotten myself so tangled up in planning that I forgot that for me, the best thing to do is get writing, and true that it’ll work out. AFter all. Thats been my way all along, and it’s worked pretty well. There’s a damn good chance the stories I’m planning will never happen, but that doesn’t mean I won’t come up with connected stories that will be better than anything I’ve planned. After all, it’s happened before.
From my old post….
The first single title I ever wrote was BOUND, and in it was a ‘throw-away” character named Karl. Karl was just a guy that hit on the heroin in the bar one night. A hot guy she was attracted to sure, but he wasn’t a planned character. He was just something that needed to happen for the heroine to figure some things out. When I wrote the next single title for Berkley,(TROUBLE) a totally unrelated story, Karl turned up again, as the hero’s best friend. Half way through TROUBLE, I contacted my editor and asked her if we could scrap the idea I’d sold her for my third book, so I could write Karl’s story instead. And she said yes. That book is WICKED.
And you know what? WICKED, the completely unplanned, on-the-fly novel, is my bestselling one. Out of everything I’ve published, this book is the one that’s sold the most, and has been nominated for awards. That’s proof enough for me that I need to stop thinking so hard, and trust myself.
Now, to wrap this up..I’ll leave you with the end of my original post..
All of my books stand completely on their own, but at the same time, they tend to be connected by location and secondary characters. And in my mind, it just goes to prove that no matter what craft books, or workshop instructors, or even writer friends say… you don’t have to be a plotter to develop a series.
To this day, I still can not plot a book, let alone a series, but one thing I’ve learned to never forget is that it doesn’t matter what other people tell you can and can’t be done…it only matters what you do!