Four Tips for Writing a Book Series
It’s great to be back at Dawn’s Reading Nook. I can’t tell you how pleased I am to be asked back, especially after the mystery surrounding my departure when I was here back in May. It seems that several photos of hot men, which were just lying around, were gone when I left. I don’t know how that happened! But I see that order has been restored, and that there are even more photos of hot men. I’m sure they will still be here when I’m gone. Well, most of them.
So thanks, Dawn, for allowing me to come back and for agreeing to be a stop on my blog tour promoting When Love Takes Over, my latest release from Dreamspinner Press and the first book of the Provincetown Series, which will consist of the following four books.
· When Love Takes Over, which is available now
· Chasing the Sun, which is a spin-off of the first book. It will release in October/November 2013
· When Love Gets Hairy, which will be available in January/February 2014
· and When Love Comes to Town, which will be published in April/May of 2014
As any author who’s ever written a series can tell you, writing a multi-book project is not an easy task. You not only have to fret about the plot of one book, but you have to make sure your world, characters, and direction is consistent throughout the series.
It makes for a daunting enterprise and requires the author to maintain copious notes in order to keep the world in the series consistent.
So, today I thought it might be fun to share some of the things I’ve learned during the writing of my series.
Tip #1—Keep Readers Invested
This is integral for any book, but it is a requirement for a series. If authors expect readers to come back for books two or seven in a series, they need a reason to return. The way to do that is to create characters that readers will love and will want to follow through multiple books.
An author has to dig deep for this. Characters in a series can’t be a flash-in-the-pan or a one-trick pony. They have to be rich and sustainable, but they will also need flaws and conflicts that will drive the reader to return.
This is true whether or not an author is writing a series that must be read sequentially or not.
Take The Provincetown Series as an example. It is not a sequential series; the four books are set in the same location or family but have different main characters in each book. However, the main characters in one book return as supporting characters in the others. Therefore, it was important for me to make the readers not just fall in love with the main characters but the supporting characters as well in each book. How else was I going to get the reader to want to buy the next book in the series?
Tip #2—Make the Setting Unique
Since readers will be returning for multiple books, the setting for the series needs to be some place interesting and that the reader will want to visit again and again. It doesn’t matter if it’s in a galaxy far far away, a magical school for wizards, or perennially cloudy Washington, there has to be some unique quality to the setting that readers find intriguing.
Would most readers be interested in a series that takes place in a non-descript locale that could be found anywhere? Not really.
Readers require escape, and authors have to give them that. That is one of the reasons I set my series in Provincetown, Massachusetts. P-town is truly a one-of-a-kind place on Earth. There, being gay is the norm, and the everyday struggles of life outside of the Cape seem to instantly vanish upon arrival. Opportunities to party and have fun abound, and there are endless, unique locations where two people could find love. Why wouldn’t readers want to return to a town where summer never seems to end?
Tip #3—Combine the Old with the New
In a series, it is vital that an author introduce new characters in each book. Just like in life, new people enter our lives every day, month, or year. The same is true for characters in a series. They have to be introduced to new people, and they must learn how to cope with these new characters.
The new characters, however, need to add something to the book and the lives of the established characters. They can be a breath of fresh air or a new obstacle to overcome. But it’s important that their existence have purpose.
By doing this, all characters, both new and old, evolve. This will then help with tip #1, which will keep readers invested.
Tip #4—Write Each Book in the Series as a Complete Story
This is extremely important. Readers enjoy resolution upon closing a book. Sure, there may be some unresolved plot strings or unanswered questions, but for the most part, the reader should be fulfilled. Readers shouldn’t close the book with more questions than answers. It can be very frustrating.
Even though authors want readers to pick up the next book in the series, each novel should end in a reasonable way other than a literary fade to black. That will only make readers unhappy.
So there you have it. Those are my four humble tips to writing a series. What do you think about them? Do you agree? Disagree? What other tips would readers recommend for authors writing a series?
Before I go, I want to thank everyone who visited me here today, and I also want to thank Dawn for allowing me to visit.
For those interested, I have included a blurb and an excerpt below. Additionally, as part of my blog tour I’m holding a contest. All you have to do is leave a comment to this post, and your name is entered to win a free copy of When Love Takes Over. If a reader happens to follow all my blog stops, then she or he can leave a comment at the other sites a well. At the end of the tour, a winner will be chosen and announced.
Zach Kelly’s life is a shambles. His boyfriend of three years dumped him, and his writing career is going nowhere. On a whim, he heads to Provincetown, Massachusetts, to nurse his broken heart and figure out his next step. He’s expecting to find rest and relaxation on the sandy beaches of Cape Cod. Instead, Zach meets a hunky porn star during a chance encounter at a leather shop he mistakes as a place to buy a belt that is definitely not for whipping.
Van Pierce is smitten when shy and inexperienced Zach crashes through a shelf of fetish gear. Though Van’s got an insatiable appetite for men on and off the set, his porn persona, Hart Throb, hides a broken heart. He’s struggling to find the reality the porno set doesn’t offer, and Zach is fighting to find the fantasy that will set his writing on fire. The odd goofball and the suave beefcake may either find love amid Provincetown’s colorful pageantry where summer never seems to end—or more heartbreak than either can imagine.
Zach blinked back his tears and swallowed the lump in his throat.
“I’m sorry,” Ben said after a few moments. His voice broke the silence like an exploding cannon. “I truly am.”
Although the words were apologetic, the tone expressed no such emotion. Ben sounded irritated, like he often did when Zach proved too dense for Ben’s liking.
He had to get the hell out of there. Now.
Zach stood up from the bed and crossed to the closet. He reached inside, grabbing his suitcase from the floor and his backpack from the chair that sat to the left. He placed both on the carpet just outside the closet door.
Ben said nothing. He simply watched in silence, but the arch to Ben’s eyebrow told Zach Ben was interested in what he planned on taking with him. What he wanted to take was the big screen television or the expensive leather couch they bought a few months ago, but none of those things would fit in his luggage. Ben’s head would. If he could stuff the oversized melon filled with Ben’s own high opinion of himself into his backpack.
But instead of acting out or saying the awful things that crossed his mind, Zach kept mum like the lame ass loser he was. He also only reached for the items that were his, not anything they’d purchased together.
He shoved a couple pair of jeans in his duffel bag. He then lifted out his suit jacket, the one Ben had bought for him to wear on their last trip to New York. The trip that Ben had planned because Zach sucked at making travel arrangements and packing appropriate attire. The one trip Ben had allowed him to be cruise director for hadn’t gone over well. He had booked accommodations not to Ben’s liking and then didn’t bring clothes worthy of dining or clubbing. Ben had been mortified and shanghaied all future travel plans after that debacle.
That was why Ben purchased the suit. He wanted Zach to look the way Ben expected him to.
Before he could stop himself, he turned around, suit jacket in hand and asked, “Should I?” Then, realizing what he’d done, he put the jacket back. Even now, after Ben had kicked him to the curb, he fell back on asking Ben if he should or shouldn’t do something. He needed help. Or a lobotomy. Yeah, an ice pick shoved into his eye just might do the trick.
“Just take the jacket,” Ben blurted. “It’s yours!”
Zach didn’t answer. He tore some of his favorite shirts off the hangers and tossed them into the open suitcase. He then yanked open his assigned drawer in their dresser and emptied the contents on top of the balled up shirts.
While he tossed his underwear into the disorganized mess, he watched Ben’s blank expression change. He was no longer indifferent. The absolute mess he was making of his belongings and the fact that he wasn’t taking any of the nice clothes Ben had purchased over the years evidently pissed him off. Ben’s face burned red, and his hands clenched into fists.
“You’re making a mess!” Ben shouted as he crossed over to the closet. “And you’re not even taking the good stuff.” He carefully removed the button-down shirts from some Italian designer Zach couldn’t remember. Ben then began folding them and placing them into a nice, even pile on top of the chest of drawers. “You might as well take them,” he told Zach. “Lord knows, I can’t fit into them. I’m far too lithe for your clothes.”
If Zach had a bat in his hand, Ben’s head would be a bloody red spot on the wall.
“I don’t want them,” Zach told Ben.
Ben didn’t listen. He continued folding the shirts into perfect little squares. When he was done, he headed for the open suitcase. He stood over it, eying its contents. No doubt trying to decide how best to reorganize the clothes until it met Ben’s approval.
When he bent down to begin the process, Zach snapped. He yanked the suitcase out of Ben’s reach, spilling his clothes onto the bedroom carpet. “Don’t touch my shit.”
“I agree,” Ben replied with a crooked smile. “Your clothes are shit. That’s why I want you to take the nice ones.”
Zach couldn’t respond. His throat once again closed shut. He swept the pile of tumbled clothes back into his open suitcase and zipped it shut. He then headed for his desk. On it rested his laptop, which sat next to the Out magazine he had been reading this morning, the one that had all those entrancing pictures of a place called Provincetown at the back of the magazine. He’d wanted to discuss possibly vacationing there with Ben. In fact, daydreaming about it kept him from writing, but now, the sight of the magazine and the vacation they would never have together punched him in the stomach.
He scooped up his laptop and placed it in his backpack. He turned to leave, but he just couldn’t leave the magazine behind. So he rolled it up, stuck it in the back pocket of his shorts, and headed for his suitcase.
With it in hand, he exited the bedroom, the one where he and Ben had planned the future they would no longer have. He then left the apartment without a word and with a shattered heart.
He had no idea where he would now live, but right now that didn’t matter. He had a plan.
He was going to Provincetown.
About the Author:
Jacob Z. Flores lives a double life. During the day, he is a respected college English professor and mid-level administrator. At night and during his summer vacation, he loosens the tie and tosses aside the trendy sports coat to write man on man fiction, where the hard ass assessor of freshmen level composition turns his attention to the firm posteriors and other rigid appendages of the characters in his fictional world.
Summers in Provincetown, Massachusetts, provide Jacob with inspiration for his fiction. The abundance of barely clothed man flesh and daily debauchery stimulates his personal muse. When he isn’t stroking the keyboard, Jacob spends time with his husband, Bruce, their three children, and two dogs, who represent a bright blue blip in an otherwise predominantly red swath in south Texas.
You can follow Jacob’s musings on his blog at http://jacobzflores.com or become a part of his social media network by visiting http://www.facebook.com/jacob.flores2, http://twitter.com/#!/JacobZFlores, or http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5142501.Jacob_Z_Flores.
Jacob is giving away a copy of his book When Love Takes Over to one lucky winner at the end of the tour.