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Guest Blogger Caroline Clemmons-Writing A Series

catching wild horses

Are you thinking about writing a series? If so, today’s guest blogger, Caroline Clemmons, has some tips for you.

Don’t you love to read a series and revisit favorite characters while meeting new ones? Most of my books are part of a series. Not only do I enjoy reading them, I love writing a series.

Where do you start? Here’s an important point—you must keep a series bible! I don’t mean the Holy Bible. Instead, a series bible is a running list of each person, places in town, locale features, pets, modes of transportation, etc. This bible allows you to be consistent. You may even want photos included.

A series can be linked by a setting (small town, city), family, or occupation (Military group, security service, café staff, etc.) Mine are linked by either family or locale. Whatever you choose, you must build your world. Start with what you know and you can add as you include things and people in your book.

For instance, if I expect this to be an ongoing or long series, I draw a map of the town and label the main features of the surrounding area. This may sound pointless, but you have to trust me. If the sheriff’s office is next to the bank in one book and it’s a block away in the next one, readers will notice.

I prefer using a fictional town. Then, readers can’t say, “I know that area and that street doesn’t have a bakery.” I do use a real town in one contemporary series, but I’m pretty vague about stores, etc. that citizens of the town might recognize.

Many authors fill out a detailed character sheet before they begin writing. I don’t but you may want to. If so, email me and I’ll send you a character sketch sheet as an email attachment. My email is caroline @ carolineclemmons dot com. Some of us need more information than others. Many writers pour over magazines or stock photo sites to find photos that resemble their main characters. Visual aids are helpful.

A series bible allows you to keep hair color, eye color, etc. straight so you don’t have a hero with brown eyes in chapter one and blue eyes in chapter twenty. Also, you need to know these things for the next books. Make certain you write these down to avoid problems—even for secondary characters. I know a well-known author who forgot to log the color of a secondary character’s eyes. Later, she wanted to use him as a main character and paid someone to find him in her series and tell her his eye color.

What I write for each character is similar to this from my latest release, DANIEL McCLINTOCK, http://a.co/37QmqYD:

Daniel McClintock, blue eyes, dark brown hair, age 22 but looks older, six feet four, paints western landscapes and horses and donates sales to the church, reads a lot, keeps the ranch books, paralyzed from waist down when 20, depressed and has lost hope of walking again in spite of supportive family.

Clara Roos Van Hoosan, blue eyes, blond hair, age 22, five feet ten inches, not fat but large bust, strong, imposing, trained in mechanotherapy in Amsterdam, hopes to found clinic in America, reads, sews, knits, cheerful, very good at her job and has helped many paralytics regain use of their limbs. Raised by aunt and uncle after her parents died when she was ten.

If a character is mentioned even once, I list the person’s name and brief description. It might only be “Millie Lippincott, kind society matron, salt and pepper hair, brown eyes”. If I decide to have that person show up in a future book, I need to know what I’ve said before.

If your series shares a locale or family, have the characters from previous books appear as secondary characters or even walk-ons in future books. Readers want to know what’s happened to them since the first mention. Keeping up with characters is part of the joy of reading a series.

If you have questions, please let me know at the email I listed earlier. If I don’t know the answer, I’ll find someone who does.

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Caroline Clemmons is an Amazon bestselling and award winning author of historical and contemporary western romances. A frequent speaker at conferences and seminars, she has taught workshops on characterization, point of view, and layering a novel. Her latest release is book four of the McClintock series, DANIEL McCLINTOCK.

Caroline and her husband live in the heart of Texas cowboy country with their menagerie of rescued pets. When she’s not indulging her passion for writing, Caroline enjoys being with her family, reading, travel, antiquing, genealogy, and getting together with friends. Find her on her blog, website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Google+, WattPad, Shelfari, and Pinterest.

Click on her Amazon Author Page for a complete list of her books and follow her there.

Subscribe to Caroline’s newsletter here to receive a FREE novella of HAPPY IS THE BRIDE, a humorous historical wedding disaster that ends happily—but you knew it would, didn’t you?  She loves to hear from her readers at caroline@carolineclemmons.com

 

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2 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Wise words. Thank you. One quick question … where do you keep your map so that it is always available? Hardcopy or on your computer?

  2. Madeline, I keep it on a 9 x 12 piece of posterboard in a pigeonhole of my computer desk. In this way, I don’t have to switch back and forth. If I were more technically knowledgeable, I would probably keep the map on my hard disk. Thanks for commenting.

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