Plotting A Novel Versus plotting a Series
I have found myself among the growing number of authors on Tiktok. No, I’m not dancing around or doing skits. I’m part of authortok and booktok where readers and authors do our nerdy thing and talk about books. The Tiktok creator @ginnyauthor addressed authortok asking about how authors write a series.
Without seeing all the replies, I can already tell you from being in writing groups for years, there is no one way to write a series like there is no one way to write a novel. |
When I plot a novel, I make an outline. It doesn’t look like the Roman numeral ones we used in school for projects. Outlining a novel can vary widely author to author. There is no one perfect method to outlining a plot. What’s essential is that the writer gets down the main plot points of the story. Plot points are events that must occur to push the story forward to completion.
The plot points vary for genre, so I won’t get into that. There are plenty of books out there if you want to go in-depth. I wrote a blog post including those books with recommendations by authors and editors.
Plotting a series is much like plotting a novel, yet different. A series contains small story arcs within a larger arc.
For the Faerie Tales series, the first novella is an introduction to the modern day dilemma an oath broken centuries ago has caused. Spoiler alert: Fergus, Aoife, and Tamlin are cursed to repeat the same pattern of meeting, falling in love (or lust in the reincarnated Tamlin’s case), and betraying Tamlin, by taking him to Queen Mab for his execution. In Tam Lin: A Modern, Queer Retelling, Fergus tries to break the cycle by telling Tom to go and leave. Tom, remembering nothing of the past, does not listen. However, this time the cycle ends differently (won’t spoil how. This gives Fergus and Aoife hope the curse can be broken. They simply need to figure out how. So for the rest of the Faerie Tales series, they’re doing just that in the prologue and epilogue. In the inset, I’m weaving the prequel tale of how the three of them met, fell in love the first time, and how they eventually become cursed.
Each novella in the series has mini-arcs leading to complete the long arc. In Warrior Tithe, Aoife, Fagan (Fergus’s true name) meet and fall in love. The novella’s arc ends with Aoife meeting Tamlin, passing him the torch to find Fagan (Fergus). Some reviewers, who hadn’t read Tamlin: A Modern, Queer Retelling thought there was no plot resolution. The story was about Aoife deciding whether or not her freedom or Fagan’s was more important. She knew if she brought him to Mab, he’d be indentured to the queen for life. Not going to say what Aoife decides. That’s the crux of writing a series. Someone picks up the second book in the series and doesn’t know what’s happening, makes a judgement. At least they were intrigued and want to read the next one, and maybe, if they look up my name, they’ll see it’s the second book (although it does say it on the inside cover).
So, in conclusion, when planning a series, each novel should be it’s own complete story building toward a larger story.
Hope you’re all doing well. Happy writing!