Friday, October 4, 2013

How About Building a Series


Readers love novels written in a series. They offer an adventure through a world that you create as the author. You build that world detail by detail and record those details in your Series Bible.

I love series myself. I love to read them and I love to write them. In fact I’m writing one now. I’m creating my Series Bible the old fashioned way – handwritten in a black and white marbled notebook with pale blue lines in teeny tiny quad-ruled squares.

I do love notebooks. I know that at least some of you share this addiction to the feel of paper and the turn of pages and the world of ideas you record on those pages. This is what I call a positive addiction and it can work really well to make your series grow a life for you.

Okay – go ahead and do the same thing in a computer file if you prefer. But you’ll have to allow me and my Luddite companions to wallow in the wonder and romance of turning pages between notebook covers if that’s what we prefer.

The goal of the bible and the writing that goes with it is to draw readers into our series world and make them love it there so much that they’ll keep on loving it through one book then the next and the next. To do this we must create a world that resonates with fascinating reality. We must create a place our readers will yearn to re-enter again and again.

To do that we must master and practice the art of immersion. We must immerse our readers so completely in the story worlds we create that they are eager to remain there until we release them at The End.

When we do finally release these eager readers they will miss the world we’ve made so real for them. They will feel forced out into the cold and barely able to stand the wait until they can return to that story world and the characters that live there.

When this magic happens in your story world the narrative hook has been set. And it is a magical process indeed – storytelling magic with you as the magician. You set that story hook in your reader’s heart with the first foray into your story world in your first book. You set the hook even deeper with each series story that follows.

The key to immersing your reader in your story world is to immerse yourself there first. Begin by establishing the Rules of the world you are creating – the details that make this world come alive. It’s okay that you don’t know everything about this world just yet. You’ll learn more and the world of your series will become clearer as your story reveals itself to you.

This process of gradual revelation grows and deepens until you’re immersed in your story world – invaded by it – taken over by it – possessed by it. Until this world becomes as tangible and deeply experienced as the day-to-day world of what we call real life. When you write from this deep place your reader can’t help but go there with you. And what an adventure it is!


So how about building a series? What do you think about that possibility?

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks Alice. You are prescient, as usual. Finally, both the paper and Kindle version of my novel, Nothing's Ever Right or Wrong, is live on Amazon and thus far I'm gratified that readers have asked me when is the sequel coming out. Which means I need to get busy! But also, the series idea seems to work really well. I know I always want more when the writer takes me into a world I like, with characters that interest me. Jennie

ZsuZsa Simandy said...

Alice, I got more out of your talk at CTRWA this month than I did out of all the workshops I attended during the four years I've been a member. In this blog, the word "immersion" caught my imagination. Recently I posted on Facebook a realization about writing vs. living a story. This just underlined it for me. After your talk CTRWA I went home and began to live my story. Thank you so much!

Alice Orr said...

Thank you Zsu Zsa

I loved CTRWA also. I talked about Character there and that's where immersion in story truly begins. You don't write ABOUT the character. You write AS the character. You immerse yourself in her. Trust that she'll tell you what you need to know when you approach her from her inside.

Thanks so much for telling me that my workshop has proven useful to you and your writing. That's why I do it after all.

Alice