How can I plan a novel series?

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Writer’s_Magic, Jun 23, 2018.

  1. Writer’s_Magic

    Writer’s_Magic Mystagogue

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    I told you I want to write a vampire novel series in my last thread. Ok. Now I got the problem that I don’t know how to plan a series. It shall be four or five books. So, do you have any tips?
     
  2. Skybreaker Sin K'al

    Skybreaker Sin K'al Lore Master

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    I loathe vampire fiction. I really do.

    I read your other thread and the replies. Just try and put a new and interesting twist on your vampires. I had an idea once when I was into this sort of stuff where one of my old vamps had developed a really complicated sense of taste and could only drink people with a specific blood type.
     
  3. Writer’s_Magic

    Writer’s_Magic Mystagogue

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    Skybreaker Sin K'alSkybreaker Sin K'al Well. Actually, I hate this genre, too. But this motivates me so much that I wanna write. My goal is to make this genre great again.
     
  4. A. E. Lowan

    A. E. Lowan Staff Article Team

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    Basically, you have three layers of plot in a series. The metaplot, which covers the series as a whole. The individual book plots, which feed the metaplot. And the subplots, which feed and interweave with both.

    First thing you want to do is get a general idea of how long you want your series to be. Then you want to figure out what story you want to tell within that timeframe. Then you break that story up into smaller and smaller pieces until you have book and subplot sized portions.

    Conversely, you can also do this the other way around. It all depends on what process works for you.

    By the way, I love vampires.
     
  5. Writer’s_Magic

    Writer’s_Magic Mystagogue

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    A. E. LowanA. E. Lowan Wow! I got something for the summer vacation. I didn’t know it’s going to be so long. By the way, I got only Vampire and dhampirs go together to a school yet. And I know that sub-plots can be problems like fights (with friends), love & desire, etc. Do you have any tip there?
     
  6. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

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    You need to come up with a plot. You have these two groups going to school together.... what do they have to achieve? What will the goal be?

    The first thing I do is think about a person. One character. Who are they? What do they want? Why?

    Once I have that, then I think about what kind of story I see it being. A heist? A Romance? A horror? A drama about self discovery? A mystery?

    Once I know both those things I can start planning setting and plot.

    For my WIP the first thing I did was come up with a character I connected with. 24 year old Anna was a war nurse in WW1. It is now 1919, the war is finished. She lost her lover when the 9th Canadian Stationary Hospital in Etaples, France, was bombed by the Germans. She returns to Vancouver, BC alone and finds she can no longer relate to her family and friends, so she leaves the city and take a job in a rural area caring for a wealthy woman with diabetes.

    OK, step 1 done. I have a:

    Character: Anna. 24 year old female war nurse.
    Goal: Disappear into rural British Columbia where she can throw herself into her work and hopefully isolate herself from the possibility of finding love again.
    Stakes: She feels if she loved again it would disrespectful to the memory of her lover. Being with family and friends is too painful because they cannot possibly understand what she saw in France.

    Now, I have a character, with a goal and stakes, and even a setting, but I DO NOT yet have a plot.

    The next thing I have to think about is what TYPE of story is this? Is it a heist story? A murder mystery? A romance? A horror?

    I have settled on Gothic Romance.

    OK, I know the "rules" for Gothic Romance, so now I can make up a plot. Plot has to do with CONFLICT. What happens in the story?

    *Note: Sometimes it is nice to have a working title that summarizes the theme/tone of the project.

    Moonrise On Ophelia's Garden
    In 1919 Canadian War nurse, Anna, moves to rural Elk Falls British Columbia to care for an elderly heiress with diabetes. Anna hopes that she can disappear in the rural village and stay true her lover who went missing in action in France. But, when she receives a desperate letter from her love, who was found and is being held at a mental institution, Anna is desperate to rescue him. Except she can't. The evening before her departure her patient in brutally murdered, and she is the prime suspect. Told by the Detective that she should stay in the village or risk arrest, Anna is determined to prove her innocence. Can Anna solve the mystery in time to save her love? Or will the time spent working next to a handsome detective sway her to forget?

    *
    The point isn't to write a cover blurb. It is just to organize your plot to make sure you have it all covered.

    Ok, now I'm getting somewhere.

    Type of story: Check
    Character; Check
    Goal: Check
    Stakes: Check
    Setting: Check
    Conflict: Check

    If you are planning a series you will have to do this five or six times, and they all need to be connected. So you could do a large, overarching plot, like suggested above, and then break it down into smaller pieces.
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2018
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  7. Corwynn

    Corwynn Lore Master

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    Personally, I would recommend putting the story first, and the number of books second. Setting out to write an entire series of novels is a daunting task, and it might turn out that you simply do not have enough material for four or five whole novels. Readers may also be hesitant to pick up a book that says "Book 1 of the Chronicles of ___________" because that means a major commitment and risk on the part of the reader, especially if the series isn't finished yet.

    I would suggest that you start writing the story first and see how far you get with it. It could be that you only have enough for a single novel, a novella, or even just a short story. If however, you find yourself over a thousand pages in with the ending still far away, then you would be justified in releasing it as multiple books. The story should be as long as it needs to be, no more and no less.
     
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  8. A. E. Lowan

    A. E. Lowan Staff Article Team

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    Take it one step at a time. Conflict drives story. Even small conflicts keep things exciting. I write character-driven urban fantasy, so if it were me, I would begin with the characters. Who are they? What are their motivations? What brings them to this school? Why are there vampires and dhampir going to school together? Are there social/class differences between them?

    I like to have a handful of subplots serving the books main plot, and you need to make sure to keep track of them. Subplots, for me, will normally arise from the characters themselves. In our first book, we (I'm one of a three person writing team) ended up with a wizard physician who turned out to be a stimulant addict, and the addiction was killing her. Major subplot. There were also developing relationships to follow and a succubus bent on revenge. All subplots.

    Think of your story as a tapestry where you interweave your plot and subplots together.
     
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