Writing a Series – Backwards

If I were cleverer or a more experienced writer, I would have written my novels as a series. Planned them out in such a way that novel one would have naturally led to novel two and so on. Many readers love series because they become invested in the characters and like familiar friends, they wish to enjoy their company again and again picking up from where the last met. And publishers appreciate the ongoing reader interest and revenue that comes with it.

But I wasn’t that clever.

writing-a-seriesUnravelled introduces Edward and Ann Jamieson in 1935, flashes back to Edward’s WWI experiences and Helene, a woman he fell in love with as a young soldier then moves on to WWII.

Lies Told in Silence begins in WWI with Helene and her family – mother Lise, father Henri, grandmother Mariele and a beloved but deceased aunt called Camille. Edward reappears and we see a different side to his story and experiences.

And now I’m writing a novel about Mariele and Camille set in 1870s Paris, a time of incredible turmoil and conflict. Mariele is 19 and Camille 20 as the story begins. Eventually Mariele will have a son named Henri who has a daughter named Helene who meets Edward Jamieson.

Yes, definitely, if I had been smarter I would have written a series in the normal manner.

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M.K. Tod writes historical fiction and blogs about all aspects of the genre at A Writer of History. Her latest novel, TIME AND REGRET was published by Lake Union on August 16, 2016. Mary’s other novels, LIES TOLD IN SILENCE and UNRAVELLED are available from Amazon, NookKoboGoogle Play and iTunes. She can be contacted on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads or on her website www.mktod.com.

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16 Responses

  1. Looks like your creative mind was that clever whether you were aware of it or not. Got any tips for how to set up a series? (In either direction.) I was just thinking about this this morning.

    1. Very good question, Laurel. I’ll have to do some thinking on that topic! Your suggestions would be welcome. One thing that comes to mind is the complexity of mapping things out and keeping track of everyone. Derek Birks wrote about Writing Family Sagas on the blog recently http://wp.me/p29Qar-14C – some good suggestions there!

  2. Passion for a project happens in its own time, Mary. New readers who discover you may read sequentially. You neglected to include Time and Regret in your time traveling. It fits perfectly into the now-before-ahead-way back sequence.

  3. You keep us on our toes, but thanks for the explanation; it does help to have these things spelled out sometimes!

  4. I wrote my series in order, but as I prepare to publish Part 1, I wrote a prequel to the whole series. This hadn’t been planned but was made up of a prologue, I wasn’t sure I needed, and bits of backstory the editor suggested I take out of Part 1. I ended up with a short story, Condemned by Fate, which I’m really glad I’ve done. The only problem for me was that learning my characters backstories in more detail meant that I then had to go and change parts of Part 1! Did you have those problems as you went back or are you cleverer than you think?

    1. Hi Val … interesting to hear your story. In my case, I had to stick with the facts I had already laid out since my other two novels were already published. Fortunately, those novels didn’t constrain me too much and for one of my characters, it helped because I already knew the kind of woman she would be later in life. One minor detail I wish I could have changed … I gave Mariele a husband called Bertrand. Not my favourite name – and of course, I’m stuck with it now. All best

  5. I believe in just following your inspiration and not doing things by the book. The Muse knows best! You write fine books, your readers enjoy them, and that is the most important thing.

  6. I don’t believe “being more clever and experienced” would have made your novels stronger, Mary. Perhaps, writing in this order – gave them their unique flavor and voice.
    It is not so much what is “right or wrong” but “what works?”
    As Recavasca pointed out, ‘not doing things by the book,’ may not be such a bad idea.
    I would say – keep writing ‘backward, Mary!

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