Writing a series – Mel Gough
I started out in fanfiction, where writing tends to happen sequentially. Usually, chapters are posted one after another over several days or weeks. Some authors write the whole story first and edit it before starting to post. That helps to develop a good story arc. It’s the smart thing to do. When I started out, I wasn’t that smart.
I wrote A World Apart and the other books in the series chapter by chapter as I was posting them. When I decided to make the series into an original work I went back and did some structural edit so that the narrative would fit better with a traditional story structure, but I think that, story arc-wise, these are still my weakest books, especially the first one.
What was interesting, though, was that writing in this way made writing a series a much easier, more natural process. The instant feedback on each chapter really spurred me on to keep writing, even when the first story was complete. Incidentally, getting that instant feedback is one of the things I miss most about writing fic. Whenever I finished a story there was always this desire to write more, because people had fallen in love with the world. So I wrote several series that way, and am currently reworking another one into an original story.
There are different ways of writing series. In M/M the more common one seems to be books that are loosely linked by the setting (the series follows several couples living in the same village, or tells the stories of each of a set of characters that appear as minor characters in the other books – Garrett Leigh does that a lot, and I love it). It makes sense for romance to work that way since really, a romance is supposed to be about two people falling in love and getting their HEA. When you continue writing the same couple then you write past that HEA. It’s what I did with Ben and Donnie, so if you want to be technical about it, books 2 and 3 aren’t romance. Of course, I’m not being technical about it; I loved having the space to write about what happens after the big finale. I like that aspect of series, and that the genre seems more receptive now to a broader interpretation of what romance books are. Jojo Moyes is in that category; according to her positioning she writes romance, even though the first book doesn’t have a HEA. I personally think that’s good.
The other aspect that was interesting and different when doing the series was the publishing process. I like a challenge, which is good because putting three books on the market in a short period of time is really hard. I spent some time thinking about the gaps in between books and how to combine the promotional efforts to maximise impact. I’ve learned an awful lot over the last couple of months: that it’s better to have books published closer together, that a series makes people really happy because they get to spend more time with one couple, and that writing about twenty blog tour posts in less than eight weeks is really rather difficult.
Oh, and that I’d do it again in a heartbeat.