Friday, October 25, 2013

Carrie Butler on Writing a Series


I'm thrilled to have Carrie Butler, author of Courage (Mark of Nexus #2) on the blog today talking about writing a series. Take it away, Carrie...

Thanks for having me over, Ilima! To start a series, I believe a writer must possess at least five things:


5. A big idea. Come on, that one was a given...

4. The desire to do that idea justice. Just because you’ve released a book or two doesn’t mean you can finish the series on auto-pilot. Continue to study your craft, read other series, and take note of readers’ reactions. Make the last book better than the first!

3. A way to keep track of details—whether that be Scrivener, a notebook, or a crinkled up cocktail napkin. When you’re knee-deep in Book 2, wondering about the position of someone’s facial scar, you’ll thank me.

2. Great CPs, betas, and editors. Hopefully, they’ve been with you since Book 1. These talented individuals are likely to spot things you miss, like the fact that you did a time-skip and it’s now December in Pennsylvania. The crickets are dead! Nix them in chapter seven...

1. A loose grip on your sanity. In fact, just forego the sanity. (What? You’re a writer—it’s bound to leave sooner or later.) A series is a huge undertaking with built-in pressure. The work is hard, the pay is lousy, and it’ll make you feel incredibly vulnerable. So, why should you bother?

Because you love your story. You love the world you’ve created and the characters that inhabit it. Your ideas are too complex to cram into one novel, and you refuse to leave things undone. So, go for it. Take the risk. We’re all waiting to read your series, and I know it’ll be fantastic!

No pressure. ;)

Thanks for stopping by, Carrie! Click on the link to find out more about the Courage blog tour. And here's a little bit about the book:

Rena Collins never thought she’d long for the past—back when affection from Wallace, her freakishly strong boyfriend, was the most dangerous aspect of her life. But now that the human-altering organization known as ERA has gone on the offensive, nothing is safe. Her bloodline is exposed, her relationships torn apart, and just when it seems like things can’t get any worse, ERA ups the ante. To save mankind from forced evolution, Rena will have to mend her broken ties and form a resistance... hand-in-hand with the one she hurt most.

Find COURAGE on Goodreads.

You can find Carrie here:

18 comments:

Kyra Lennon said...

It's definitely a good idea to make notes when writing a series, and definitely good to keep the same beta readers if you can!

Carrie Butler said...

Shiny! Thanks for having me over, Ilima. I appreciate it. :D

Sheena-kay Graham said...

An idea you have to share with others is definitely a big reason for starting a series. Sanity? The sane go become doctors to make money with long hours. Nice post today and congrats Carrie.

Diana Wilder said...

Definitely a reread. Fascinating information (series sounds good, too!)

...and work calls. Drat!
Diana at About Myself By Myself

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

A loose grip on the sanity of your critique partners also helps!
I didn't have the third and the fifth. No idea how I ended up writing a series then.

DAVID WALSTON said...

I have already lost my sanity, I just have problems with the details.

jaybird said...

LOL for #1. Although all writers can relate to that one for sure.

Melissa said...

Great post, Carrie. Very true. :)

Robin said...

I struggle even keeping the details straight in 1 novel. I've started using Scrivener, but I'm still afraid of trying a series. If I ever do I'll remember these points. #1 is def. my favorite:D

Donna K. Weaver said...

Awesome suggestions. Especially that finishing on autopilot thing. It's not just movies that mess up a film series. I can think of as many book series where the ending was a disappointment as I can ones that were satisfactory. Obviously, that can be different depending upon the reader, but if you tick off at half your fans, that's not a good thing in anybody's book.

Carrie Butler said...

@Kyra - You would know, my friend! I hope your series rebrand is going well. :)

@Sheena-kay - Haha! Too true. Thank you very much!

@Diana - Thank you for stopping by! :)

@Alex - Agreed! And ninjas don't live by any rules but their own, so that makes sense. ;)

@David - One step closer! ;)

@Jaybird - Absolutely! *grins*

@Melissa - Thank you! :D

@Robin - Sometimes it helps to make a profile page for every recurring character or location. Then you can associate each one with an image and stick them on Scrivener's little corkboard. :)

@Donna - Well said! I completely agree. That's why I'm a little intimidated by the last book in my series... *gulp*

Kelley Lynn said...

I love Carrie!!

She's so right about series. Settle in for the long hall

And I would add: Write other stories not in the series inbetween. It helps to make sure you don't get fatigued with the characters, etc.

Once they start screaming to be listened to again, then you know its time to write the next one :)

Carrie Butler said...

Well said, Kelley! Thank you. :D

J. A. Bennett said...

I don't know if I could write a series, it really does take a lot out of you. People who do are amazing!!

Emily R. King said...

Such great advice, Carrie! Write because you love it. I don't think most of us do it for the dollar, that's for sure. :)

Hi, Ilima!

Carrie-Anne said...

I actually find it harder to contemplate writing a standalone, since I've been doing series and family sagas pretty much exclusively for about 20 years. At the time, I didn't know writers are "supposed to" wait until they've gotten published or famous before making a series, instead of deciding on your own you want to write a series from the outset. Oh well. I can't very well unwrite a series! Series were really popular when I started seriously writing as a preteen, so I thought it would be really fun to make my own too. I literally grew up with some of my characters, and it only feels natural to stay with them until the very end.

In between books, I agree with the advice to write other things. You don't want to suffer burnout from being too long with the same characters at a stretch. It's never turned out well when I've tried to go from a very long book to another very long book with the same people, though I've never had that issue with my Atlantic City books, since they're so short and lightweight, many of them leading right into the next.

Kathryn Purdie said...

Such great advice! All the books I've written have a sequel or companion book outlined and ready to go. I'm itching to write them, but am trying to wait until one of them sells first. It's hard. I want my characters to complete their journeys! :-)

Crystal Collier said...

LOL! That's right, if you want to be a writer you're going to have to let go of your sanity at some point. Great advice, Carrie. Now go recover some sanity!