Tag Archives: outlines

Constructing a Story Arc in a Series

Posted by October 17th, 2011

Book Country Twitter Chat (September 22, 2011)

Series development is tricky so we brought in the pros–bestselling author Yasmine Galenorn and literary agent Laura Bradford.

 twitter_newbird_boxed_blueonwhiteDeveloping a story arc in a standalone is hard enough, but what happens when you toss multiple books into the mix? Suddenly

you have to think about your plot in a much larger way, while still giving each book its own mini-arc that fits nicely into the big picture. Not an eask task, that’s for sure!

Book Country decided to chat with some of the best in the biz–author Yasmine Galenorn (@YasmineGalenorn) and literary agent Laura Bradford (@bradfordlit), to give you some tips and answer your questions.

Yasmine is the New York Times bestselling author with multiple urban fantasy and young addult series under her belt, including the “Indigo Court” series and the “Chintz ‘n China” series. Her upcoming novelCOURTING DARKNESS (Nov. 2011), the 10th book in her beloved “Otherworld” Series, is available for pre-order now!

Laura is no stranger to series development either, representing authors like Ann Aguirre, Anya Bast, Jennifer Echols, Megan Hart, and more. She specializes in romance across a variety of subgenres.

Please note that we had some technical difficulties with Yasmine’s Twitter feed during the chat; her tweets have been re-tweeted by our Community Manager Colleen Lindsay and myself in the transcript, downloadable below.

But first, here are some great snippets from the chat:

@bradfordlit: I like to know that a book is part of a series in the query. But remember to pitch one book at a time!

@yasminegalenorn: Most important thing is consistency. You must maintain worldbuilding/characterization in all books.

@scootercarlyle: I do fantasy, and I need the details to line up between each book or the world will fall flat. I outline them all.

@KelliLemay: Mercedes Lackey is a good person to read over for story arcs and tie-ins. Her series tend to span over history as well.

@bradfordlit: If an author is too entrenched in the series already, it can be hard to make necessary changes.

@yasminegalenorn: I always have a balance of action/intrigue/etc. Though some fall more one way or another.

If you missed the chat or want to remind yourself, we’ve posted the entire transcript as a PDF document here. The PDF will open in your browser and you’ll be able to save it to your computer if you like. You can also get to know your fellow genre fiction lovers by clicking directly on their Twitter handles.

Bear in mind that the chat appears from newest to oldest tweets, so start at the end of the PDF and work your way up.

Thanks to everyone who participated in this useful chat!

REMEMBER: Book Country Twitter chats occur every other Thursday night from 9-10 pm EST. Just use the hashtag #bookcountry to participate or follow along. Topics are announced in advance in the Book Country Discussion forums, so be sure to take a look!

 

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Ten Tips I Received…and Sometimes Ignored

Posted by August 31st, 2011

Thriller writer Jamie Freveletti shares the most personally useful–and least useful–advice she’s gotten.

“Persistence is the only thing that really has the ability to move you closer to being published.”

 Jamie Freveletti_smallWhile I was working on my first manuscript I was given boatloads of advice.

Here’s what ended up working, and not working, for me:

1. Write every day.
This advice comes from those who write like crazy. Many who say this are well published. I write a lot, but not every day. Frankly, there are not many things I do every day except raise children. When I worked as a lawyer and the kids were smaller I wrote every other day on average. Vacations- and beach vacations in particular- ramp up my word count and as a result my children have seen a lot of sand.

2. Outline. 
I get an idea for a premise and begin writing. I research along the way, but while I’m still writing. I remember what James Rollins once said at a conference I attended: “when you’re researching you’re working but not writing.” In other words, doing prep work accomplishes something but you are still no closer to finishing the novel. Outlining is not for me.

3. Take a creative writing class. 
I began with an evening course at the University of Chicago Gleacher center. I got into the groove of writing there, but by no means do I think it is a necessary step to becoming a writer.

4. Get a Masters in Fine Arts.
I have some degrees and diplomas. Enjoyed them all, but just don’t have it in me to get one more. Thankfully, this bit of advice is only necessary if you want to obtain a position as a professor.

5. Write what you know.
I’ve written about things I can only imagine. I mean, who murders someone just so they can write about murder? In fact, one of my first manuscripts is about a female attorney. I knew the material, but so many have written legal scenarios and lawyer protagonists that I wasn’t sure I had much to add to the genre. Not to mention that I felt as though I was at work 24/7. I ended up putting that manuscript on the shelf and turned to write Running. If you’re unsure about your ability to write a believable scenario in an area you don’t know, then maybe you should write what you know at first. Just be prepared to branch out if necessary.

6. Awful first drafts are fine.
If you don’t finish something, you’ll never get in the game. Just quell the voice in your head that says “Are you kidding? No one is going to want to read this drivel” and keep on going. You’re going to revise and revise and then revise again anyway.

7. Be prepared to write a second novel if the first doesn’t sell.
Seems as though everyone has a manuscript on the shelf. I know I do. It’s not bad, as firsts go, but I read it the other day from my new position as a debut author of a second manuscript, and I can now see where it can be improved. Don’t know if I had that perspective before.

8. Attend conferences to meet people in the industry.
Just don’t do what I did during my first and spend the afterhours in a Starbucks instead of in the hotel bar. Lawyers congregate in Starbucks and leave early to go home and continue billing. Writers congregate in the bar and stay late and party. Remember that!

9. Don’t chase a trend if your heart’s not in it.
You’ll end up writing something lackluster. Write what you love. If it doesn’t sell, see #2 above, but don’t write what you think others will buy. Never seems to work–and I’m not sure why that should be, but most tell me this is true and I believe them.

10. Never stop.
Persistence is the only thing that really has the ability to move you closer to being published. If you quit, you’ll never succeed.

Author photo by Leslie Schwartz Photography

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