Not my Big Distraction – that’s an entirely different story. It’s my Big Decision. The one I’ve ignored for as long as I could. It’s time to answer the question. Am I writing a series – or not?

The fictional Skye Pointe community and its residents star in my current story and several more that I will write. With some tweaking, I can make at least four stories – including the one that I am now rewriting – into a series. My scene notes for the current story indicate where to drop in the clues and hooks for the later ones. To make this story fit into the series, I’ll have to combine a few characters and remove a couple of the subplots. Doing so simplifies the story; and also reduces the number of  conflicts that it has. That’s why I’ve hesitated. Fitting the story into the series will dilute it.

On the other hand, readers’ fondness for the series format is widely reported. It’s true for me as well. I like getting attached to characters and traveling with them through multiple adventures. However, I don’t limit myself to reading series. Many of my favorite books are singles. Should I go for the story as it was meant to be written or adjust for the potential of dedicated series readers? I have to commit – one way or the other. Otherwise the words I write will lack conviction.

Too conflicted to choose, I even considered a drastic solution – why not write it both ways and let someone else decide? No problem! Two versions of a 400+ page manuscript. Make twice the work for myself and dump the problem on someone else’s lap. All because I insist on being a coward. Crazy.

Just as I’d decided I should grow a backbone, my old friend Serendipity dropped in for a visit – in the form of a tweet from Cathryn Wellner. You know her as @StoryRoute on Twitter. Her tweet referred to a post by Nina Amir (@NinaAmir on Twitter); in which she shared an experience from the San Francisco Writer’s Conference. She had attended the lunchtime keynote presentation by David Morrell, author of First Blood (Rambo). Among other things, Nina wrote that David had said, “Write the book you must write.”

After five months of agonizing indecision, could the choice possibly be that easy? Indeed it was. Conflict resolved. I’m secure in knowing that I must write the Skye Pointe stories as they were originally conceived. It’s a mistake to make a series of them simply because of what I perceive the market forces to be. I have to trust that there are enough readers who will like them for the stories that they are – connected, yet each standing on its own.

Believe it or not, I do have a series in mind, but I won’t get to it until after I’ve finished the Skye Pointe stories. Flash forward to my future – I won’t be trying to figure out how to unravel the series because market research says that readers prefer singles. Lesson learned.

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#ROW80 update, 03/20/2011:

  • Goal 1: Completed the elevator pitch and short synopsis; now one third done with long synopsis. Look how far off I am from my original goals! I’ve only managed to finish the revision outline and scene notes. Now I’m revisiting my other artifacts to make sure I have a cohesive set when I start rewriting.
  • Goal 2: Did my usual amount of writing this week though I average about two hours per day, I’ll keep my goal at three so that I’m still working toward that.
  • Goal 3 – Haven’t missed a post!

There’s a few more days left, but this is my last update for round one. See you in round two!

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15 Responses to O! The Big D

  1. Thanks for stopping by my blog…I can identify with that dilemma…sometimes it feels like we’re not done with the characters.

    I ended up having some of the same characters pop up in subsequent stories, and in my current WIP, I’ve snatched a character from a previous book and given her a story of her own.

  2. CMStewart says:

    Well done. Stay true to your vision, and good luck in the next round! 🙂

  3. I went through the same quandry with 2 of my characters. I loved them so much. One pretty much shut me down to sequels, the other screamed for them. We’ll see if I actually end up doing it though. I think David Morrell was correct in his assessment.

    Great job sticking with the challenge. See you in round 2.

  4. C.Farrell says:

    I hate that decision. I’m writing something that I’ve said for the last year would be a stand-alone yet now I keep throwing in things that will lead to another book. I cannot help myself. I’m not making a final decision until it comes to editing time. 🙂

  5. I have similar problems with some of my stories, only it usually involves short stories turning into novels (I no longer write short stories because they either get abandoned or end up being massive lol). I had also briefly considered a sequel for my novella, but I think if I wrote one, it would somehow take away the impact that my novella will have on its own (dark fantasy but bordering on mythological tragedy). As you write more you will get a sense for what feels write for your world and your characters anyway 🙂

  6. CathrynLouis says:

    I see more stories for some of my characters as well. It’s just that I’m not forcing a defined story line that leads from one adventure to the next. I like that the characters discover more about themselves and open up new opportunities for stories. I’ve not yet had a short story turn into a novel, but I’ve taken a piece of a novel and turned it into a short story. It was dark, and I needed a way to explore the character so I could make him more realistic. Maybe it’s time to post it. Thanks for all your comments!

  7. I know what you mean about deciding between stand alones or a series. I’ve decided to write both ways – my short stories are all in the same universe with some of the characters appearing in more than one story, but my novel will be stand alone. Best of luck for round two!

  8. CathrynLouis says:

    Thanks, Jason – you too!

  9. Deniz Bevan says:

    Good on you for making that decision! I’ve still never attempted a series myself… But I do like the other idea – that of separate characters in separate novels, yet weaving through the same scenes and timelines. Joanna Bourne’s done this in all three of her novels to date and it works really well.

  10. CathrynLouis says:

    Hi Deniz, thanks for visiting. You’ve hit on exactly what helped me make the decision – the overlapping timelines. It would have taken some effort to make the stories sequential.

  11. Thanks for dropping by. Finally was able to get around to see you. Glad you decided to stick with your original story. I think we all have those characters that will fit into series. The last story I wrote, the main character turned out to be less of a main, and more supporting. And the supporting character turned into the main. It will be interesting editing. At some point, you’ll write your series. Look forward to hearing about it.

  12. CathrynLouis says:

    Thanks Robin. Funny how the characters want to have a say in how things turn out…

  13. I think all characters have endless possibilities. But each and every one of them needs to follow the path he is destined to take. Once i am convinced this has happened, I am ready to let my character go.

  14. Cathryn, since the characters are the ones who drive their stories, they should always have a say in how things turn out.

  15. CathrynLouis says:

    I totally agree, Maria. Even now as I’m rewriting, they are revealing more of themselves. Fascinating. 🙂

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