Tuesday, July 10, 2018

What Makes Me Write a Series Instead of a Standalone Book? by @CarmenWBuxton

by Carmen Webster Buxton


Many readers love books that occur in a series. For some genres, it’s almost required. For mystery writers, it makes a lot of sense to create a detective—either a pro or an amateur—and then write each book about a different crime, but with the same protagonist. The detective can travel, so setting can vary, and other characters can be added as needed. With other genres, it’s not nearly as common to have the same protagonist in every book. 

I created my own universe with my ThreeCon books, but those books are a series only in the sense that the rules of my made-up history of Earth and the galaxy apply to all the books. Specific galactic-level events are referenced in several books, but no character appears in more than one book. 

Previously, the only series I had published where the same characters appeared was the two Haven books, The Sixth Discipline and No Safe Haven. Both books are set on the planet Haven, with a nine-year gap between the end of Book 1 and the start of Book 2; both stories have many of the same characters in common. The reason there are two Haven books is because when Ran-Del’s story started in my head, it spread to encompass other story lines. When I was done writing the first draft, the page count was much too big for one book, so I split the story in two. I could do that because there was a logical breaking point, with enough resolution to end that book, but one big outstanding question remaining for Book 2.

But now I’m publishing Book 2 of what will be a 3-book science fiction romance series, all three books set (mostly) on the planet Wakanreo, and all three involving the same characters.  As with the Haven books, these books weren’t conceived as a series. It’s merely that once the characters existed in my head, they kept doing stuff, so I kept writing it all down.  I actually had a very rough draft of both Alien Vows (Book 2) and Alien Skies (Book 3) finished before I published Alien Bonds (Book 1). I had to do a substantial rewrite of Alien Vows because of the changes I had made when rewriting the first draft of Alien Bonds. Once Alien Vows is out, I’ll be doing the same kind of rewrite on Alien Skies.



Some romance writers create a series where the books share a theme, like a common setting, or all being tied to one occupation (such as Mindy Klasky’s baseball-themed Diamond Brides series). Others might be family-oriented, with brothers as the protagonists (brotherhood seems to be the most common family relationship on which to base a romance series; a search on Amazon for “romance series brothers” yields many surnames including: Hunter, Bradford, Beckett, McGavin, Cocker, Cynfell, Stone, and Darcy).

Romance is tricky to write with the same characters in a series, because the plot is focused so much on the development of the relationship between the two main characters. If the relationship already exists when the story starts, can you still call it a romance? I think so, but the relationship still needs to be each story’s focus, and it needs to develop or change in some way.  Certainly, Diana Gabaldon manages to keep the relationship front and center in her Outlander series, in spite of the ground (and time) her characters cover.

My readers sometimes express in reviews their hope that the book they are reviewing will be the first in a series, that those characters’ stories will continue. Usually, I have to tell them no, because if the story is over in my head, then it’s over. But with the Wakanreo books, I can finally say yes, the story will continue! 



Bio:  Carmen Webster Buxton spent her youth reading every book published by Ursula LeGuin, Robert Heinlein, and Georgette Heyer. This combination of far-future worlds, alien cultures, and old-fashioned courting customs influenced her writing and that shows in most of her books


Links:
Carmen's blog/website: http://carmenspage.blogspot.com/


Carmen on ​Twitter:​ ​ https://twitter.com/CarmenWBuxton 


Buy link for ALIEN BONDS, my latest release   ​: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07959BHM4



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