Creating a Series

The idea for my first sci-fi story, Mirror Image, came to me in a reoccurring dream. I had never written a book but I couldn’t get the story out of my head. After much debate with my husband and best friend, I decided to write. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

As it always happens with manuscripts, the first draft to Mirror Image is vastly different than the final. The whole process took a year as I was learning as I wrote. The first draft didn’t involve the three Brooks brothers which really changed the tale. Their inclusion inspired me to look past the first story and thus a series was born.

It partly grew from my love of Mack and Maddie, my two main characters, but mostly the second story came at me in full force. The idea of time traveling, seeing new races, and the danger everyone is confronted with, not just Maddie, was intriguing. As I planned Mirror Shattered out, I decided to split the story into two and now I had a trilogy. In fact, the way I plan to wrap up the trilogy does give room for a fourth, but I think I’ll end it there. Leave something for the readers’ imagination.

It seemed to make sense to me. A small voice in the back of my head is asking if I’ll be able to let the characters go, once my Mirror series has reached its conclusion. One of my worries which led to the decision to split up the two was I was worried about putting too much content into it and the reader will stop caring. Pacing is incredibly important when writing and that’s truer to me when working on a continuing narrative than a stand alone book. Remember to pace yourself before you start spinning around in circles in the dirt, not gaining any traction.

To me, the crux of formulating a series is to keep interest in the characters. My first goal out of the gate after deciding to make the series was to make the reader fall as in love with Mack, Maddie, and the others as I have to the point where they have to know what happens in the second and third installments. The first is character driven but the second and third will be story driven. I hope everyone is ready for the roller coaster that the next book will be. It certainly will be a wild one.

After being knee deep in my Mirror series, another sci-fi story came to me. As soon as it started to form, I knew I had another series on my hands. One of the things that is also exciting to me is that this series could give me years of material to work with. Not only with the current story, but with spin-offs as well. Spin-offs! I have a whole world of possibilities at my feet.

The key to a good series is planning. For my next sci-fi series, I already have the three carefully plotted out, but not so tightly that a new idea wouldn’t throw it out of balance. Also not to the point where it has to stop after three if I get inspired to do more. There also as to be a flow to it. One of the things I pride myself on is how I control the flow of my books. If you feel burned out by the action, so will the reader. Keeping your audience engaged past the first book isn’t simple. And it’s all too easy and a little cheesy to end each book on a cliffhanger. The hook must be created to entice but too often I feel that authors use the tactic to carry over to the next book. Yes, I say this knowing the second book in my first series ends on a cliffhanger. I did, however, leave enough at the end of the first book to (hopefully) make the reader go, “Wait, what?”

Writing and maintaining an array of stories is one of the most difficult and rewarding challenges for me as an author. One of the biggest compliments I have received to me was my editor telling me that there were a few spots where she felt I could’ve stopped and the story would’ve been satisfied until the next, but then she saw how much she still had left to read and was excited. Ebb-and-flow is crucial. CRUCIAL to the success of the story.

I had a difficult time finding a publisher for Mirror Image. Some of which I have chronicled on in previous posts on my blog. I had gotten several publishers that came back saying that they loved my characters and the story, but were wary about publishing it not having read the second book. I was forever thankful to cross paths with Distinguished Press, a publisher who only puts out series. If you’re a writer thinking about or working on a procession of stories, submit to them. I’m grateful and proud to be a part of this team.

In May, my first book in my string will be available. I hope lovers of a great sci-fi story, and sci-fi romance will love Mack, Maddie, John, and the others as much as I do. You can read more about my Mirror series or any of my upcoming books and works in progress by visiting kgstutts.blogspot.com

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