Monday, June 29, 2020

Five Reminders When Writing a Book Series By Carla Laureano

Carla Laureano
Have you written a series? If so, did you interconnect the characters in an intentional way? Award-winning author Carla Laureano is here with tips for planning ahead so you can avoid pitfalls. Enjoy! ~ Annette

2020 has been a big year for me in terms of series completion. Not only did I release the last book in my Supper Club series, but the long-awaited third book in my MacDonald Family series, Under Scottish Stars, released after a long five-year wait! While it’s always nice to see a group of characters get their happily-ever-afters—they begin to feel like family when you’ve lived with them for so long—it’s also bittersweet to know that you have to move on.

But there are particular considerations that go into writing a multi-protagonist book series that determine whether you and your readers give it a tearful “goodbye” or a relieved “good riddance.” And the planning starts before you put the first word on the page.

1. Realize that your characters’ lives start before they appear on the page and continue after the reader closes the book.

It’s easy to act like your characters don’t exist until they appear in your book. But the richness of an interconnected series comes from a sense of shared history among all your (eventual) point-of-view characters. Before you begin writing, make sure you understand their shared backstory. Otherwise, series books can come off as a procession of stand-alone stories about people who just happen to cross paths once in a while. And while interconnected stand-alone books have their place, they’re not what a series is about.

2. Know your characters well, even if they aren’t the main focus of the current book.

It’s tempting to put all your focus on the main character of the current book and treat the other series characters like window dressing. But part of what makes a series work is the feeling that the other characters are just as interesting as the protagonist of the current volume. It’s what keeps readers intrigued about the next story in line and coming back for more.

3. Don’t be afraid to be a little mysterious.

Just because you know your characters well doesn’t mean you have to spill all their secrets. Once you’ve got a secondary character’s backstory figured out—and hopefully know where their story is going in the future—hints are a powerful hook to keep readers moving through future volumes. It’s enough to make readers wonder what the whole truth is . . . and get them to pick up the final book in the trilogy.

4. Realize that once it’s on paper, you’re stuck with it. Make sure that you can live with—and work around—any plot twists.

It can be tempting to throw in shocking plot twists for the good of the current book. But if the main character’s best friend gets hit by a car and falls into a coma—and that best friend is supposed to get her own love story in the next book—you need to understand how the accident and coma impact her arc. Don’t paint yourself into a corner by introducing elements that will be hard to work around in future books.

5. Have your exit strategy planned from the beginning.

The last book in the series is particularly tricky, because not only do you have to write a fully formed story for your protagonists, you also have to wrap up the stories of the early books’ characters. Have an idea of how you’re going to bring them full circle early on. If they’re scattered across multiple continents, you’re going to have to get them in the same place so readers can say goodbye: make it a plot point. If they’re struggling with real-life issues that arose after their happily-ever-after, make sure that the main character is somehow involved so that the reader can see the situation through his or her eyes. And plan how you’re going to tie off loose threads, either in the course of the last book or through an epilogue. There’s nothing worse for a reader than investing attention in characters whose story seems to have no adequate conclusion. A series ending should leave a reader with a happy sigh and the feeling that after the last page is turned, all will be right with the characters’ world.
While writing series can be trickier than their stand-alone counterparts, they allow for a richness of story world and an emotional investment on the part of the reader that is without equal. A little planning and foresight early in the series can pay big dividends in creating a satisfying, long-term reader experience.

“The richness of an interconnected series comes from a sense of shared history among all your (eventual) point-of-view characters.” Planning ahead for writing a series. #SeriouslyWrite #amwriting @CarlaLaureano


Under Scottish Stars
Releasing July 7, 2020

Recently widowed Serena MacDonald Stewart focuses on her children to the exclusion of her career, her art, and her sanity. When her brothers ask her to oversee the family guest house on the Isle of Skye, it’s a chance to dust off her long-ignored business skills and make a new start. But her hopes for a smooth transition are dashed when the hotel manager, Malcolm Blake, turns out to be irritating, condescending . . . and incredibly attractive.

Malcolm Blake gave up everything—his home, his girlfriend, and his career—to return to Skye and raise his late sister’s teenage daughter. With few job opportunities available on the island, he signs on as the manager of the MacDonald family hotel, which he’s soon running successfully without interference from the owners. That is, until Serena shows up, challenging his authority and his conviction that there’s nothing missing from his new life on Skye.

Before long, Serena and Malcolm have to admit the spark between them is more than mere irritation. But as single parents, there’s more on the line than their own hearts. Will their commitment to family be the thing that draws them together or the only thing that could keep them apart?


Carla Laureano is the two-time RITA Award–winning author of Five Days in Skye, London Tides, and the Saturday Night Supper Club series. She is also the author of the Celtic fantasy series The Song of Seare (as C. E. Laureano). A graduate of Pepperdine University, she worked as a sales and marketing executive for nearly a decade before leaving corporate life behind to write fiction full-time. She currently lives in Denver with her husband and two sons.