Writing a series: the pros and cons – Della Galton

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By Della Galton

Publishers love them. Readers love them. But what about the writers? Is it easier or harder to write a series of novels? Or in my case, novellas? Well, I’ve just finished number five in my series The Reading Group, so here’s what I think. Hot off the press!

The Best Bits

You know the characters, so you don’t need to start from scratch for every story. In fact it’s brilliant to be able to develop the same characters over more than one book. You can get so much deeper.

When you really love a character – you don’t have to say goodbye for long.

Each story can (and should) still be complete in itself – readers won’t necessarily read the whole series. So you do feel as though you’re writing a ‘whole’ book.

The Most (er) Challenging Bits!

I’m one of those writers who doesn’t plot so I tend to put in throwaway lines and then find out why I wrote them later. Not the other way round. Why oh why did I mention in the February novella that Jojo (who stars in March) had already had three husbands? When it came to writing Jojo’s story my publisher suggested just the two might be better! Luckily there was time to change the facts in February.

Continuity is a nightmare. I keep detailed character resumes on everyone, but it’s still really hard to make sure I don’t change someone’s eye colour, or contradict the fact that I once said they loved Marmite or had size eight feet. Don’t even get me started on ages!

Once you’ve set a fact in stone – perhaps in an earlier book that’s already published – you can’t change it. So you have to work round it. This can be pretty er challenging.

Reading Group - Bookends 2 (2)

My Top Tips

Keep spreadsheets for the timeline. It’s much easier to keep track this way.

Have a “photo” of your character as a visual prompt. I cut them out of magazines or junk mail that comes through the door. It’s an excellent use of junk mail!

Alternatively pick a ‘character from a TV drama. This is brilliant for gestures.

I also keep information sheets for each character, which has things like, how many siblings they have (with names) the way they talk, (softly, loudly, not finishing sentences etc) and their favourite/most used words.

I also have a note of each character’s date of birth as it’s much easier to change a timeline when you have this information, than if you just have their age.

Never throw anything away that’s related to character. So if you cut a scene from your novel, keep it as information. You’ll still think of your character like this, even though the scene is no longer there.

To sum up…

So to return to the question I asked earlier – do writers love writing a series? Well, I can’t speak for everyone, but this writer certainly does! I’ve enjoyed every minute.

Della Galton lives in a Dorset village with her two large hounds. When Della is not writing she enjoys running marathons and going to the gym for long workouts. Unfortunately, she doesn’t have the time to pursue these worthwhile hobbies as often as she’d like to – as she much prefers writing! Written under the name Della Parker, December, January, February and March of The Reading Group are out now, and book 5, April, will be out on March 30th.


1 Comment

  1. Carol Waterkeyn

    April 7, 2017 at 8:17 pm

    Love this and love the books. Really helpful information, Della

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