M. K. Theodoratus, Fantasy Writer, blogs about the books she reads--mostly fantasy and mystery authors whose books catch her eye and keep her interest. Nothing so formal as a book review, just chats about what she liked. Theodoratus also mutters about her own writing progress or ... lack of it.


Monday, July 19, 2010

To Limit Your Series or Not

I'm back after
spending lots of time among disintegrating paperbacks (used book stores), 
a fun Fourth of July, too much food, lots of good talk, botanical gardens/parks, and
embarrassing games of scrabble.
[I'm the queen of the three-letter-word who misses all the extra point squares.]

The Reads ...
which all seemed to relate to questions of writing series.
Didn't read much while on vacation.  Took Katherine Kurtz and Deborah Turner Harris' The Adept: The Templar Treasure [third in series] on the plane to reread.  I'd call the book a paranormal mystery.  More important, it's a contained series ... five books.  While I found Sir Adam Sinclair an engaging character I'd like to read about again,  I think the co-authors stopped the series in a good spot.

Lots has been said/written about the deteriorating story lines of long on-going series.  {Anita Blake and Kate Scarpetta come to mind.}  So, how do writers keep a series fresh?  Obviously, limit the books in the series -- even if you disappoint fans.  Both of the other two writers who I read while away, Tamora Pierce and Mercedes Lackey, follow the contained series pattern -- even when writing in the same world.

Tamora Pierce's The Immortals group gives us the new adventures of a young person finding/ controlling their magic to learn where they fit in their world [wild mage Daine].  The series occurs after the Alanna, the Lady Knight and before Keladry, the Protector of the Small.  It was kind of fun seeing Alanna as a mother with George being a "stay-at-home, administer-the-estate" dad.

The Mercedes Lackey book Sacred Ground (1994) is one of her few stand alone books.  It's a paranormal mystery which would seem an ideal candidate for a series.  The PI, Jennifer Talldeer, investigates insurance fraud complicated by the desecration of her ancestor's grave via the influence of an evil spirit she must defeat to save the world.   Osage beliefs lie at the core of the book, and I think Lackey made the right decision not to turn the book into a series.  Subsequent books would feel like generic detective mysteries after the emotional impact of the first book.

Web Notes ...
A couple blogs [Dan Straka and E. J. Wesley] mention this site:  I Write Like.  I couldn't resist taking a peek even though I was trying madly to catch up on what's happened since I started the family trek.  For the heck of it, I pasted in the opening chapters of my four semi-completed WIPs.

So who do I write like?  Dan Brown, Kurt Vonnegut, and Stephen King.  I like the company, but wonder why the agents I query keep sending rejections.  [I think I'd be happier if the program said I wrote like Lee Child.]

The site offers a free newsletter.  I don't know what it contains since I didn't explore that far.  Still, you might want to explore further since the site is offering some great examples of free "seller hooks" -- for writing lessons, I'm guessing.    [I was a bad girl and didn't follow the links, which I should do since I'll be studying e-marketing when I get organized.]

Whatever.  The site is so popular that AW Water Cooler closed down discussion of the site.  Still, the response time is fast.

Progress ...
I thought a lot about series while semi-comatose on the plane.  Just before I left, my beta reader pointed out all the loose ends in the There Be Demons.   I thought I was being clever ... leaving room to write a sequel ... but she was right about me needing to clean up more details.

Out of my four semi-done (half-baked?) WIPs I think Mariah/the Half-Elven (with three completed drafts) and Demons lend themselves to sequels.  Yeah, I know I should wait until I sell the first one before I think about writing the next one.  The Mariah/Kerry books happened by default when I chopped up a 400,000+ word mess.

Believe it or not, I actually did some writing while on vacation.  Came up with a scene describing the kids' reaction to their father's death for Voices.  At the moment, it's mostly "tell" so I have to dramatize the scene. 

Speaking of marketing, I'm taking my first step by revising a much rejected manuscript set in the Half-Elven world to offer as a freebie.  If I ever get the site going, you can point and giggle at me.

Also, now have a bunch of scattered notes on hagstones ... characters meeting mostly.  Now I have to find some hooks to hang the story line on.

Trivia ...
While I enjoyed the trip even if I didn't get to see the ocean, it's nice to be back home -- even with the 90+ weather.  Did miss the strawberries at the farmers' market though.  I'll have to console myself with corn on the cob and raspberries.
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