The idea for today's podcast episode initially came from a Patreon supporter, who wanted to know what the ideal time is to start writing sequels when working on a series.
In episode 81 of the Am Writing Fantasy podcast, Autumn and Jesper have an in-depth discussion about, not only how to plan a series, but also what the author need to be mindful about during the actual writing.
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Read the full transcript below. (Please note that it's automatically generated and while the AI is super cool, it isn't perfect. There may be misspellings or incorrect words on occasion).
You're listening to the am. Writing fantasy podcast in today's publishing landscape, you can reach fans all over the world. Query letters are a thing of the past. You don't even need a literary agent. There is nothing standing in the way of making a living from writing. Join two best selling authors who have self published more than 20 books between them now onto the show with your hosts, Autumn Birt, and Jesper Schmidt.
Hello, I am Jesper
and I'm Autumn.
This is episode 80, one of the am writing fantasy podcast. And today's episode is actually a suggestion from one of our support us on patron. I always set what is the ideal time to write SQLs when working on a series? So we quite found this quite interesting question, and we decided to turn it into a full episode. However, we did decide to rephrase the question slightly. So we rephrased it into this.
Jesper (1m 5s):
How do you plan and write a series? So that's what we're going to talk about today. I think it was a great topic because I mean, fantasy, everyone loves a good series, but yeah, it's an interesting, you know, figuring out when do you need to write the whole series? How much do you plot the whole series? How do you figure it out and want to release books and how all that happened? So I think it'll be a good episode, hopefully. So yes, that's the plan at least how we usually succeed in our plan.
Jesper (1m 36s):
So I'm sure we'll get there, but for now, I mean, gosh, we haven't talked for almost a, for a week. So how are things over on your side of the Atlantic? No, it's pretty good over here. I must say to them, I sort of have my I'm like a trail doc with the notes in the trail or whatever you, however you say that properly. But my main focus is just getting everything done for a moment before summer holidays comes around. So I must admit that it's quite busy at the moment.
Jesper (2m 7s):
I'm getting the self publishing success course recorded, but I'm halfway through it at one that so impressed with how well you get your half the courses done. It's amazing. So yeah, you're going to have that one ready. I think you'll make it, you'll get it done before you end up going on vacation and yes, I, you are totally burning the candle at both ends. How's that? Yeah, I'm thinking I can last for a couple of weeks burning in both ends of the handle here without collapsing, but I'll probably need the rest.
Jesper (2m 41s):
Once a summer holidays comes up because it's not only the self publishing success. Cause we also preparing to launch our fantasy writing course by the end of August, just because we're even more insane because you know, why not? We also, we also the middle of launching three nonfiction books all at once.
Autumn (3m 3s):
Oh, it's crazy. Yes. I mean I'm elbow deep in adding images and formatting those books. So I think we're totally insane, but I'm so excited to see all of this happening. We said this was going to be a big year and not just because of pandemics and riots and protests. We're hoping for it to be a big year for us too, with courses and books and exciting things that will hopefully help out other writers and authors. So I think we're doing well.
Jesper (3m 33s):
Yeah. The idea is basically by the end of this year, we sort of want to have all these, these elements in place so that we're ready for next year where we want to focus on fiction writing. So we have all the nonfiction parts and all the course parts and all the author business services and all this stuff. We want to get that done before we get to the end of this year, end of 2020. So that we're basically ready to shift our focus a bit next year, but well, I'm actually, I have to say I'm really pleased at all the three nonfiction books that's so that's the plodding book, the workbook that goes with the plotting book and the getting story ideas and creating a story premise book, all three of them have actually earned the number one new release tack on Amazon for their respective categories.
Jesper (4m 21s):
So that's pretty damn cool.
Autumn (4m 22s):
Yeah. Celebrate, waving the sparklers. I was very so excited to all three of them, which I'm going to say, if anyone wants to know Yesper is in charge of, you know, managing the categories and the Amazon ads and that's all I own, but I'm so excited. It was fantastic to see those little orange tags come up.
Jesper (4m 41s):
Yeah. Especially if all three of them,
Autumn (4m 43s):
I thought that was pretty cool. That's was a full study.
Jesper (4m 46s):
Yeah, indeed. But an actually to be honest, it's not that hard to do, but we will explain how to do that in the self publishing success course that once that comes out for free later this year, so, and it it's, it's not that hard to do so it's nice with those orange tax day on Amazon, number one, new release. That that's really cool, but to be honest, as long as you know what you're doing, we probably only earned $10 royalties for that,
Autumn (5m 12s):
But we have the tag. So that's awesome. And yeah. Talk about proofing concept. I think people should be very excited about this course because it really works.
Jesper (5m 23s):
It does work for sure. But how are things are with you?
Autumn (5m 27s):
Oh, it's good. We're in a, we're in, I don't know if I've ever mentioned this, but I'm definitely not a hot weather type of girl. And so I like the coal and I like the North and summer is tough, but we just, we went through a humidity so thick that it felt like you were breathing under water, finally got cleared off and we're in like barely 72 degree days. So it's like, you know, you kind of want to fleece on, it's just gorgeous, gorgeous, low humidity. I just signed me up for a lifetime of this. And so when I hit weather, I also hit my work prove.
Autumn (5m 60s):
And so I'm just plowing through a lot of work and it's good. I've got some graphics, I've got beautiful weather. My garden's doing well. I'm working on books, writing just a little bit on this side, just because Hey or writers, which is what I was actually going to say about half. The reason why we want to get our platform done for him writing fantasy is because we're writers we would have. Right. So we're so excited about these books that we've been plotting
Jesper (6m 26s):
Really want to get back to fiction writing.
Autumn (6m 28s):
Yeah. So it's good. Things are, you know, this week is a good week. World is in chaos, but I, I still remember my leadership course from my old full time job. And we read the seven steps of highly effective people, which was an interesting book, right? Yes. I love that. And I come back to that idea when you feel overwhelmed to work inside your sphere of influence. So I am working very hard in my sphere of influence to make sure that the sub positive positivity and productivity around me and, and occasionally taking a little bit of time off for maybe some self care and sitting on the porch and drinking some tea.
Jesper (7m 7s):
Yeah. I think I read that book first, the first time when I was in my early twenties, nice time. And it was like, yeah. And when I read it, it was like, wow, I read a press like complete eye-opener. It was like, wow, I never thought about things this way. It was like, it's amazing. It is a good book. I love that book on the internet with the yam writing fantasy podcast. So over the weekend I noticed a conversation going on in the am, writing fantasy Facebook group.
Jesper (7m 43s):
And well, I guess before I get into that, I have to say that I appreciate all the different points of view and also the willingness in the group to respect other people's opinions, because there were certainly some different opinions in that conversation there. But anyway, the conversation was about using a story structure on not using a story.
Autumn (8m 5s):
Interesting. I missed that one and I was even in the group a couple of times this weekend. Yeah.
Jesper (8m 11s):
That, well, it was sort of, it started in one place and then it, throughout the comments, there was probably like 40 comments on that one. And then down, down the road, somewhere there in the comments, it started, they started debating whether or not a story should have, you should follow a story structure or not. And on one hand, some said that they didn't want to read something for Blake and others then said that it's not about creating something formulaic, but rather how to apply a structure to a story, to, you know, study writing and understanding how stories work.
Jesper (8m 47s):
And I thought that was pretty interesting.
Autumn (8m 49s):
That is a good conversation. I will have to go look for that one. Yeah. Yeah. I mean,
Jesper (8m 56s):
Since we've written an entire guide on how to plot a novel, it's really no secret where we stand in this conversation. No, I decided not to pitch in there in the comment section, but a it's I think it's pretty clear what our view is that stories that work to follow a structure and that there's nothing about being formulaic or anything. We do explain why in the plodding book on why we think this way. So I'm not gonna labor that here. But my main point, I guess, is just to acknowledge that I like to see how the Facebook group is able to have constructive conversations when there are different points of view or disagreements.
Jesper (9m 35s):
I, I really think that was nice to see. Yeah.
Autumn (9m 37s):
Yes, there was. I did notice recently, I mean, there was a few people talking about how and why they like the group and how very supportive and people were, you know, open to different interpretations. We're very honest with each other and very kind with each other. And they compared it to other groups that seem to be dominated by just a couple of individuals and how much am writing fantasy isn't that way. And I just really, it was hard not to chime in there and say, thank you, but just let it then go on.
Autumn (10m 7s):
It'd be like, yeah, I think this group is pretty fantastic too. So I think that is there do a wonderful job of being nice and supportive, but also being good critique partners and helping each other out. So it's a really wonderful group. Know what I thought? Because go ahead. Okay.
Jesper (10m 26s):
No, yeah. I was just about to say, because honestly it's not that easy, you know, especially, especially when you're thinking about anything on the internet, you know, a Facebook group, or it could also be common sections on YouTube or whatever, but when people can behind, they can hide behind the screen and behind the keyboard and you don't have to sit there in front of somebody and tell them the same thing to their face. It is so easy to be the let's call it nasty commandant. Who's very opinionated about everything and thinks that, you know, the best and those kinds of people it's so easy to do.
Jesper (11m 3s):
And, and I think sometimes it's not because those people want to be nasty or anything. It just comes across differently when for one, you hide behind your screen. And secondly, when you're writing and you cannot hear the person's tone of voice or see the expression, it just in writing in general, I can also see it from a day job perspective. You know, when you get emails about something that's very different when they call you something. So I just think that this whole conversation that was going on there, there was definitely different opinions in there, but it never turned nasty.
Jesper (11m 38s):
And I really liked that. So I just wanted to do a shout out to every group members and they I'm writing fantasy Facebook group and say, well done everyone, you know, keep the conversation going because we can all learn from one another. And I think that's important. And the group is just,
Autumn (11m 54s):
Just awesome. So big shout out to them because they're, it's really a dynamic group. I'm not even a Facebook fan, but I absolutely love, I love the group. So that says something to me. I mean, either
Jesper (12m 7s):
If I didn't have to, if we didn't have the Facebook group and I didn't have to run some ads for us on Facebook, I would definitely on the stall it for me.
Autumn (12m 16s):
Yeah. We're in the same boat. They're the things we do just to, you know, because we're writers. What I thought was interesting. So I did some research and then I, we just got a nice email from James Brown, who is one of our new Patrion members, but he was actually emailing back regarding our newsletter. We send out to people who join our list or pick up one of our things like the starter kit or the global download. And I thought it was neat because it actually spawned something in me that I had thought of ages ago and just remembered.
Autumn (12m 47s):
And that was that we send out a newsletter with like really good writing tips that almost invariably, whenever one of them goes out, we hear back from at least a handful of people. Somebody says, Oh my gosh, thank you. This came at the perfect timing. Just like James just said. And I was thinking of all the writerly things that I'm involved in and even non readily. I mean, I'm into like what travel and bushcraft and all this other stuff that I got going on in my life. None of them, once you sign up for something or do a course, they all Peter out and maybe you'll hear from them when they're doing affiliate marketing for someone else.
Autumn (13m 21s):
But we don't do that. We have this newsletter that goes out every three weeks or so with really good tips. And it just keeps, we keep adding to it and adding to it. And I don't know anyone else who does that. So I wanted to give us a big Pat on the back and say, this is really cool. I don't know anyone else who keeps delivering this to people and trying to be helpful, no matter, cause you signed up for a free something like five years ago, we're still trying to give you helpful tips. And I also think it's cool because you know, it's something people can sign up for and just gone to, but I realized today that there's no easy way of getting it unless you pick up something free.
Autumn (14m 2s):
So I know we've talked about fixing up our website, I'm thinking, you know, we have to find a way of like, just, just subscribe to the I'm writing fantasy email list. Didn't get tips. But right now, if you want to get these awesome tips, you have to go and like pick up a free writing course, like the starter kits. So that's always there though, if anyone's interested.
Jesper (14m 26s):
Okay. You know, actually I was thinking that the best place to start is probably to just talk about how do you even decide if a series is the right choice for the story that you want to tell. That is one thing is that we're going to talk about writing and series and how to do that. But before you eat, you can even get to that pot. It is relevant to question the story you want to write. Is that supposed to be a series? You know, is that a good match?
Autumn (14m 56s):
Yes. I feel like channeling our old AI, old Mick grumpy. I just feel this need to bring him back to life.
Jesper (15m 3s):
Oh, I forgot about it.
Autumn (15m 6s):
He was the best devil's advocate. And I feel that urge within me to be the devil's advocate and just say it's fantasy. Of course it's a series. The,
Jesper (15m 16s):
If anybody doesn't know what autumn is talking about, trying to go to the am, riding fences, YouTube channel and what some of the older videos, and then you'll you'll understand what she's doing.
Autumn (15m 26s):
Believe it or not the first podcast, because I recently added the transcripts and he is in the first, like first 10, 15 podcasts. So if you go back there, you will actually hear old Grumpy's voice and his salty sarcastic was done.
Jesper (15m 43s):
Yeah. I think from a business standpoint, at least, and we talked about this before, but from an orthopedic standpoint, it makes most financial sense to write in a series. But I think you could find some arguing where not all stories and, or I guess characters are suited for a series, not all the time, necessarily the autos books that just works well as standalones as well.
Autumn (16m 12s):
I totally agree. There is definitely some books. I'd be nice, still playing with. I love trilogies. I've got two Epic fantasy trilogies, but I have this idea for this other story. And my initial instinct was, Oh, trilogy. But I keep looking at it going, I don't know if there's more than one book in there. So there is, you know, I could feel a gut instinct kicking in, but there's definitely ways of doing this as much more concrete as step by step then saying how much material, how much does my character change?
Autumn (16m 44s):
Is there enough action to make this last for three books? Is it two books? Is it seven books what's going to happen here?
Jesper (16m 52s):
Yeah. And it also comes down to how much you're putting at stake, but also the actual, what should we call it? Environment in which the book takes place. For example, you know, if you have like somebody trapped in a snowstorm or whatever, right, right. That's going to be difficult to sustain for series for three books.
Autumn (17m 17s):
No, I agree. And I think that's where you get into looking at, I'm sure we're going, we're moving in this direction. But if you look at themes or your, what your premise is going to be for the story versus your series has a premise. So this, if your premise is the dire events that happen when so and so is trapped in a snowstorm and such, and they're running out of food, that's a good premise. But how can you break that down into three separate, equally exciting ones that would each be an entire novel, even if it was only 50,000 words, but when we're talking about fantasy, so we're talking about 80 to 110, 120,000 words, those are big books.
Jesper (18m 4s):
Absolutely. So I think step number one here in this whole conversation is to say, is this story I want to tell, suited for series, but for the sake of not having to stop this or already now, I think we have to, we have to assume for now that this is the case that you want to write the series, otherwise this whole episode won't be,
Autumn (18m 30s):
But I think that's a good step. One is you've got to look at the idea and say, you know, like I said, so you come up with this idea of being lost in a snowstorm. So, okay. Maybe is it the entire world is, you know, North of the wall and you're stuck in snow or ideally you're developing and you're expanding your timeline, your timeframe. So maybe you can make a whole series about a snowy Hoth like world and be able to make this really dredge out. Or you're going to have to revisit your idea until you can break down the big idea into three separate little ideas that kind of fit into it.
Autumn (19m 9s):
So let's say we're there. And so we're going to move on to the real question is how do you go about plotting this? And when do you start writing the sequels and how does that all work out once you decide that this really is going to be a series?
Jesper (19m 26s):
Yeah. And I could, I think we actually talked about this in a past episode, but I could just reiterate here once again, what our process is just for the sake of completeness here. And just in case somebody can't remember what we said in there. I don't remember if it was last week or a couple of weeks ago, but I do remember saying this before, but let me just repeat it here then. So when we are creating a new series, we start out by creating a premise description for the entire series and how to do that is exactly, is explained in that brand new book on how to get story ideas.
Jesper (20m 6s):
So just check that one out. It only costs a couple of dollars, so everybody can manage that. I think. So I'm not going to go into how to develop the premise here, but basically we create a premise for the entire series. And then once we have that, then we use that as sort of the guiding star so that we know, okay, this is the, this is what the entire series is going to be about and what's this going to encompass? And then we basically break that one down into a premise for each of the books in the series.
Jesper (20m 43s):
And in that way, we start to understand how are we going to deliver on that guiding star? Absolutely. So we don't, we don't do any detailed plotting for this. So these, these premises are just short descriptions. It's probably a couple of sentences.
Autumn (20m 58s):
Yeah. Very high level. I think the most high level, maybe a paragraph, but yeah, you can get away with like two sentences, even for the series theme. It's not overly complicated. I mean, an example from my second trilogy is the series whole premise was one culture was trying to undo a punishment created by having lost an ancient battle. That was enough. Obviously there's a lot in there. You can mine out to separate what happens in each of the three books to fulfill this premise.
Jesper (21m 32s):
Yeah, absolutely. And, and I think the danger here is once you feel compelled to stop putting in all those details in already at the beginning stage issue, you know, so we purposely make sure that we only plot the first book or the current book that we're working on. So if we're done with the first book, then obviously we move on to book number two and so forth. But we are only doing the plot for the actual book that we are working on. And then we just leave all the rest with only the premises set.
Jesper (22m 6s):
Because even though in our case, for example, we plot in quite a lot of detail. We are very focused on all the small nuances in the plot before we even start writing. But even though we do that, there's still gonna be a few things here and there that pops up during the writing of the first draft that isn't in the plot. So we don't want to waste efforts and we don't want to waste time. We want to be as efficient as we can.
Jesper (22m 37s):
So hence starting to put in a lot of detailed plots on book two, three, four, five, et cetera, once we're still on one, on one, it's just going to be a waste of time because we have to correct all of it afterwards. Yeah,
Autumn (22m 50s):
I think I like to put it. So I like to, when I first did my first series of what I was writing alone, I would maybe work out like put in the seven steps of story structure, going back to the beginning of this episode, when we kind of hinted, we like structure. I used the seven steps all the time, even in my personal writing. And maybe I would take the premise and I would put in the seven steps and I'd make sure that those are filled out pretty concretely for book one. And I might have them outline in two and three.
Autumn (23m 20s):
I might have an idea of which character is that book going to be based on because that's typically how I often wrote. I would have I juggle a ton of characters and that's just what I known for in my personal or fantasy writing. So I would often pull out as different characters as the main character for the SQL, the next book or the next book. And so I have some ideas of the things that, that one's some big things, what the inciting incident is, what the climax is maybe one or two small hurdles, but it would be, as I wrote book one, I would say, Oh, this is going to be the thing that's gonna, they're going to have to face that in book two, or they're going to face that in book three.
Autumn (24m 1s):
And I just go run over to the, a where I have that in Scrivener and saved and I would drop it into the plotting note. So I wouldn't forget. And I could go back and look it up later, right. When I needed it, like when I'm working on the plot. So, but it stayed very high level and it changed, it was much more fluid. You didn't spend days and days and days or weeks or months trying to work out these detailed plots when, you know, just having to me having those files at least organized saying, Oh, I know I'm going to put this here. I'm going to put it there.
Autumn (24m 32s):
That was enough that I could move forward, knowing that it's going to be three books. I could name the books. I could brand the books. Heck I could do the covers for the books even, and go ahead and even promote that it's going to be a trilogy, link them all together, but I could just be writing book one, which is pretty cool.
Jesper (24m 52s):
Yeah. And even beyond that, I would say for our first joint fiction book that we talked about, that we're going to do next year when we were doing the plotting for that one, not even haven't gotten advice to write anything at all, but when we're just doing the plotting of it, it happened several times that I thought of something like, Oh, okay, maybe we should do this in a later book then. So I now have a word file would probably like 30 items in it.
Jesper (25m 23s):
It just says in some later book, and then I have a sentence or two saying something that could have, I have no idea if it's two or book five, but it's just some ideas that I have sort of once we then start plotting book, number two, I can, we can go to that file and pull it back out and see, okay, is there anything in this list that actually fits in here? Maybe some of it is never going to fit in anywhere. That's also okay. It's just ideas. Right. But it's, it's nice. It's nice to have sort of it, at least for me.
Jesper (25m 53s):
And I think this is not unique to me at all. I think it happens to most writers, but once you get into the narrative and the story of it, whether that could be just the plodding, if you plot in detail like we do, or the actual writing, but it will spark new ideas. You will start thinking about things that, Oh yeah. And then I can do this and I can do that. And it's just so good to just pack them in that placeholder file and just let her sit there and then come back to it later. So it doesn't derail it.
Autumn (26m 20s):
You hear now. Yes. That's a very good way of doing it and saving them is so important. Cause I think, I mean, especially, especially if you had something that does happen that you're like, this is going to be perfect for having ramifications later. You don't want to have to reread your own book or you don't want to forget about it. I'll leave this thread. That's going to drive you and readers insane. It's nice to have a place to park that, like you said, and, and pick it up. That is funny though, because we've sort of answered the original question from Irish, which was sort of, when do you start writing the sequels?
Autumn (26m 52s):
If you're writing, if you are writing a trilogy and basically were saying that, you know, as you're going through this, your plotting one book at a time you're saving your ideas into the, for the other books and delete these files. You're basically writing one book at a time. So you finish one and then you go to the next one. And you plot that though. I have to admit if when I was really fired up and really just chugging out these books, I would probably get about three quarters of the way through book one.
Autumn (27m 22s):
And then I would start, I'd feel confident enough that I could start plotting book two, but not writing. I have finished book one or at least I think it was book two and started book three the exact same day. I mean, I don't think I even took a breath. I'm like, Oh, I did that finished book. I'm not even the next one. I've got to go and tell Facebook, I'm not going to tell anyone I'm I just had the idea for the first scene. So I kept writing, but I write them back to back. Even though I have written books, multiple books at the same time, I think we've talked about that in a different episode.
Autumn (27m 54s):
So I've written two books at once, but never in the same series because too many things can change. And if you started too soon, you're going to be kicking yourself because you're not going to be adding detail and you're going to have to go back and edit pretty heavily.
Jesper (28m 8s):
Yeah. Speaking of editing her heavily and having major headaches and whatnot, the whole point that we've sort of touched upon a few times by now the whole point about story structure really becomes important when we're dealing with series. If you're just writing a standalone single book, you can more easily adjust as you go. You know, for those who more rely more heavily on their intuition for story creation, that can work to some extent when you're doing a single book, but once you start juggling three, four or five, six books, if you don't have a proper story structure and you know, you have the arc plotted out, you know, the character arcs as well, where the, where things are going, going to change.
Jesper (28m 56s):
So to speak over time, you're gonna have so much to do in editing that it, Oh my God, I can't even imagine the headaches.
Autumn (29m 7s):
I still remember my first book by debut work. And when I discovered story structure, cause I think I got lost at chapter three. I might've made it up to chapter nine before I really threw in the talents that I need to go back and figure out what I'm doing and learn plotting. But it's just, that was, you know, that wasn't even a third of that book. That was a huge book. And so, yeah, I, I can't imagine trying to do that and understand where the character is coming in and their character arc is making them change.
Autumn (29m 38s):
And that is affecting the plot. And the plot is affecting the character arc in that bundle of things. It becomes this giant ball of tension that explodes into the climax. And plus you have to add the villains arc and or the antagonist. However you want to put it in. All of that is coming together in this spiraling, twisting DNA, strand of synergy, doing that and doing it powerfully so that you have a really well connected and dynamic trilogy or series. If I can find someone who can do that off the top of their head and hasn't written like 30 books, I would just be so astounded because I can't imagine knowing it, maybe someone's a subtle writer and they just could do it out of instinct.
Autumn (30m 22s):
But man, not me.
Jesper (30m 24s):
No. Well, I'll, I'll, I'll make a bold claim here. I will say that if anybody says that they can do that, I do not believe it. I don't care how, how a claim. They, I don't care if they're Stephen King. I do not believe it. What I would do believe is that they can, they can write the books, but they will spend a ton of time editing it to make it make sense. And the progression is just right from one book to the next, et cetera. Nobody is able to do this intuitively without any structure in place or if they do, then they've just decided that, okay, I'm just going to write it and then I will make sure it all makes sense afterwards.
Jesper (30m 60s):
And then you, you spent just as smart, just as much time or even more during the editing, which is own, that's absolutely fine. You can do it however you want. I just feel like I would rather spend a bit more time plotting upfront. So I don't have to redo work that I hate redoing work. So once I've written the first draft, rather move straight into editing it so that it sounds nice, but the whole story is there. The arc is there on the character arcs and the story progression is already there because also when, when we are talking about these character arcs, if you have a six book series, the changes in the character should have happen incremental throughout with each book.
Jesper (31m 43s):
It shouldn't be so that in book number six, you can see that the author, all of a sudden figured out, Oh, I heard somebody said something on a podcast once about character six, all of a sudden the character changes and everything happens in one book because I just remembered now that before I finished the series, I should also have a character arc where the character changes. That's not how it works and that can be difficult to handle again, unless you want to do the whole thing in editing, be my guest, but I wouldn't, but who it can be difficult to do unless you know where you're heading.
Jesper (32m 22s):
And you, you have a firm understanding like, like it was discussed in that Facebook thread that we talked about a bit earlier, right? We're saying that it's important to study writing and understand the structures of stories. And I do firmly believe that that's true because if you understand how structures works in a story, how character ox works, then you will be able to embed it into your series. And you just, again, gonna save yourself so much headache,
Autumn (32m 52s):
You will, and you will help improve your plotting. You'll know how you're going. And it's funny while we were talking about this, all only thing that popped in my mind was so you think George RR Martin is a plotter. I answered my own question because book seven is still not finished or released. And he managed to give the information to the filming agency so that they could create their own script and create their own using his framework and what he planned to happen to create the final episode.
Autumn (33m 23s):
So there you go. So George RR Martin, that's the only way to handle the, what 150 named characters plus how many others that he's got going on in those books. So yeah, it shows, I think a level of, I wouldn't even call it professionalism, but it's a level of understanding the depth of storytelling, that if you want to have something that's really layered and impactful and full attention, and you have your characters shifting and changing, and that fits the plots, what happens?
Autumn (33m 54s):
It doesn't just happen because you need it to happen then because you know, you needed your character to change, but that the plot has wrangled them and massage them enough that the changes reflected and make sense. So that readers are surprised, but also understand that doesn't happen unless you've sat down and thought about it quite a lot. And that comes with plotting. And when you're going to do that over the course of several books, I mean me, like with all my characters, I like to actually have characters who have arcs that. I mean, the one that is tied to that book, they have a character arc that ends, begins and ends in that book.
Autumn (34m 29s):
But then they go on to the next book and they could have a character arc that spans two books. But because they're not tied to the plot is tightly. And all of that with you're juggling like six source. So I'm not going to admit how many characters are in my six book series and keeping readers and grossed and keeping everyone straight. You don't do that unless you have it written out, you have that framework in place.
Jesper (34m 58s):
Yeah. The other thing is all also that it's important that each book is interesting on its own. It shouldn't be. So that the, for example, if you have a trilogy then book number one, that's usually exciting, right? Because then everything is starting out on, Whoa, this is, this is a new adventure and yeah, everybody loves it. And the third book is also very exciting because we get to the final battle. There is the climax of the entire story.
Jesper (35m 28s):
Everything is nice and dandy as well. And then book number two, there is just like a placeholder sitting in between there, right? And that doesn't work, you know? And again, the, if you can embed every single book in the series with story structure, then each of them will also be an interesting read on their own. And they have to be, it has to, they have to have their own conflicts as well. It can't be just like, yeah, this is then the middle of book where it's all about them traveling halfway across the countries.
Jesper (35m 60s):
And then they have, there's a few via places talks throughout, but that's it, you know, nobody wants to read this.
Autumn (36m 6s):
You don't want to see that inverse bell curve in the tension graph where it's like, Brooklyn's exciting too is like, Oh, why did I bother picking this up? Just picking up book three. Cause I'm hoping it's exciting again. No, it really should be an escalation where you're getting more and more exciting. We're booked to is more intense. And I mean, I know I've seen readers say that on some of my books that it's like, I rarely read a second book that you know is better than the first, but that's what you want readers to be saying. They went to say, Oh my gosh.
Autumn (36m 38s):
I mean, I have a, between book two and three, I have a hundred percent through rate because they're tied so tightly. And you just have to know, but at the same time, the story that starts in each book, book one as its own premise and it begins and ends in book one book two has a premise and it begins and ends in book two. And the same thing with book three, but they're all tied together by this bridge of this premise. That is the serious premise that if you can do that and you can create this tightly knit series where each book is standalone, but equally actually even more exciting than the one previously.
Autumn (37m 15s):
Oh, just readers adore it. And I have to admit when I was a teenager or when I found books like that. Oh, well, that's why I write them now. Isn't it? Because that's what you get so engrossed in as like homework, no food, no, I'm just reading this. I don't care. It's 3:00 AM. And I have a test in chemistry in the morning. I am doing this and that's, that's exciting and that's what you want to do. And this is what you want to find as a reader. And that's what you want to write as a writer.
Jesper (37m 40s):
Yeah. And I just thought about when you said that actually in fantasy, I feel like with, with a series, we really need to be a bit careful with the overpowered characters as well. That's very serious. That really becomes a problem sometimes in some stories where it's just like, well, okay, honestly I gave up at book number six in the wheel of time series, but, but the main character there rant, he's, he's becoming like this Superman kind of thing, you know?
Jesper (38m 15s):
And I mean, some people enjoy that. That's fine. But I just feel like you need to be careful with overpowering the characters as you progress through the series. Because if you get to a stage where the reader basically knows that nothing can beat this person, then it takes out a lot of tension of the story. You have to keep reader right down the balance where they're not quite sure if this guy's going to make it or not. Right. That's why you want to keep them. But if it's like God like powers and you're immortal almost or whatever then I mean, okay.
Jesper (38m 50s):
Of course, of course there's also interesting stories about vampires who I modeled and stuff like that. But then you have to come up with some, some other threats that really, you know, I love and one of Anne Rice's books where the, I guess it's listed, but I think it is, but he is so powerful once you get far enough into those books. But at some point he wants to feel what it's like being a human again. So he actually finds, I can't remember if it's like a Sharman or something, but there's some magic involved and somebody is able to take your body and your shift buddy with somebody else.
Jesper (39m 28s):
And then he does that. Yeah.
Autumn (39m 30s):
Yes. I remember that. Yeah.
Jesper (39m 32s):
It's just so amazing that story, because he wants to get back in his vampire body. But what if this guy just don't want to shift back because now he has the vampire body and he's a million times stronger than let's that isn't in human body. Right. So he can do nothing. So it, the entire story is really why, how he's he comes up with a plan on how to trick this person so he can get back into his vampire body. And it's it's I like that, you know? So that kind of thing work. But my point is just that if you want to do something like that, if you do have really overpower characters, you have to work extremely hard at coming up with something that makes it in an intriguing read, because just throwing five dragons at him who cares, right.
Jesper (40m 18s):
I mean, he's a model,
Autumn (40m 19s):
Right? Yes. And I think that's such a great point because it does when serious lose that excitement and that tension because you just feel like, Oh, well the hero can handle it. I'm just reading it. Cause they're my best friend, but it's lost that flavor and that excitement. And it's a very easy to do as your character becomes, you know, the character art continues and they become so strong and proficient at their magic or whatever they can do. They're just fantastic heroes. And I mean, I still remember that even from dragon Lance, you know, the heroes become so great, but a lot of them kind of die off before they get to the point where you feel like they're immortal, they're facing mortality.
Autumn (40m 57s):
So you feel that. And I think that is a very such a valid point and something, I had a hard time with my first time out writing a series is it's so easy to make your characters get powerful, but then you are having to make sure that your antagonists, your villains are equally powerful. You have to make sure that they're still weaknesses. So I do think people, regionally writers when they're doing character arcs, think that, you know, the proficient becoming proficient in magic is important, but that doesn't have to mean that they have all powerful encompassing powers that, you know, they can still just, if they're a water elemental, they only control water.
Autumn (41m 33s):
You don't need to give them the control out of fire earth and air because, well, that's just getting crazy and then you can't defeat them and that's becoming, you know, you've got to keep it. You got to keep the weaknesses there as well as the strengths. And you have to show progression in possibly other ways than just power. Otherwise you're going to be writing yourself into a little box corner of, Oh, how do I, I'm going to have to bring out the gods at this point to create destroy this character. And that's not a character I planned on writing, but there you go.
Jesper (42m 5s):
Yeah. And I think apart from all this story's structure and character arcs and all this other stuff that is really about well said that the writing itself, I would want to just take a side step here and talk a bit about the writer, him or herself, if that's all right. Absolutely. Because I feel like apart from all the writing craft stuff that we basically is what we've been talking about for about, for like 25 minutes or so.
Jesper (42m 39s):
But the other thing that I really feel that can't be neglected is that you also have to ask yourself, can you commit to write a series? Because you know, writing one novel is a lot of work, but a series. Wow. You know, you're talking a whole new level of commitment here. So yeah, I think it's just worth mentioning that before you jump into the deep end of the pool here, I did, you know, I started out saying, okay, I'm just going to ride trilogy.
Jesper (43m 10s):
And I jumped straight into the deep end and it can work. I mean, I wrote the entire trilogy, so it's not that it can't work, but I'm just saying that maybe sometimes it's at least worth considering if you want to dip your toes into the water and maybe start off with a standalone or something first, just, you could still tie that standalone into the series. Maybe it's something that happens a hundred years before or after, or whatever you want to do. So that still ties together with the series in one way or another.
Jesper (43m 40s):
But I just feel like it's, it's worth considering if, if you can commit to that because it is a lot of work.
Autumn (43m 51s):
Yes. I think that's a fantastic point. Yeah. We, we both just dove right into trilogies on our first bet out, but
Jesper (43m 59s):
Yeah, but I think we've sorted out or concluded by now all these podcasts that we are in saving, listen to,
Autumn (44m 7s):
I I've told more than enough people that I'm definitely jumping into the fire, just so maybe you don't have to. So this is a fantastic word of warning that it's, it's a lot of work. I mean, that was three years. Plus I rewrote the first book a couple of times to learn what I was doing. So it was my debut. So that was like five years of my life. And then I went and wrote a second trilogy in the same world, but why not? I got a little bit, but we
Jesper (44m 32s):
Are a lot of work and it, there's nothing wrong with maybe coming up with a novella for seeing if you like the characters, like the world, make sure that you've really got it in you to keep going, because that's horrible to disappoint readers to write something that you're planning. You know, you leave all these loose ends and you get to the end of the book. And you're like, I really just don't want to write book two and three it's, you know, don't do that to readers. It's just, I, I try not to pick up series until I know they're complete because it's so painful otherwise.
Jesper (45m 3s):
And a lot of readers feel the same way. Yeah. That is absolutely true. And I think it's basically safe to conclude that maybe, well, two or three elements here, depending on how you look at it. One is the writer, him or herself. Can you commit to write an entire series because the demand and the work involved in that is, is a lot. So think about that. And then the second part, and I guess this could be two things or one thing. Yeah.
Jesper (45m 33s):
Depending on how we look at it, but understand plodding, understand story structure. Those two things are pretty important. And I know that there are a lot of people out there who don't want to plot and that's absolutely fine, but at least understand the whole line of thinking that we started out with about creating that premise per the series first and then per book below so that, you know, that overall, all this stuff, you know, it fits together and it's not just like a random book here and then something else happened over there.
Jesper (46m 10s):
And you know, that everything fits together before you start, that is incredibly important and it will really help you, even if you don't want to do all the detailed plodding and that stuff, that's fine. But, but at least put those guiding stars in place from the get go. Yes. I think that was a fantastic summary to this podcast. All right. So next Monday, it's all about character creation. We will explain how to use the integral types to create great characters for your novel.
Narrator (46m 44s):
If you like, what you just heard, there's a few things you can do to support the am writing fantasy podcast. Please tell a fellow author about the show and visit us at Apple podcast and leave a rating and review. You can also join Ottoman Yesper on patrion.com/and writing fantasy for as little as a dollar a month. You'll get awesome rewards and keep the M writing fantasy podcast going, stay safe out there and see you next Monday.