Saturday, 22 June 2013

Full steam ahead - and no going back

Everybody tells me that the best thing I can do as a writer is write a series.

I can understand why. You get your reader hooked and then they'll keep coming back, wanting to know exactly what happens next. You get them to build up a strong relationship with your characters, so they'll really care about what happens to them. It makes complete sense.

I'm just not quite sure if I can do it.

There's a couple of problems.

The first is that I have a really short attention span. By the time I'm halfway through something, my mind is already moving on to something new. I can barely keep the focus to work on one individual book, let alone a major project that involves three or more books.

The other problem relates to the way I develop my stories. As I've mentioned before, I call myself a plontser - which is something halfway between a plotter and a pantser. I usually have a broad idea about where my story is going, but I'm constantly filling in the details and making up a lot of stuff as I go.

This means that, especially with first drafts, I change my mind a lot as I go. If you read any of my first drafts, you'll see how things change, maybe even characters and their names change, from chapter to chapter. It's something that I gradually tidy up during the rewriting process.

But imagine if I did this with a story that spanned multiple books. Halfway through book three, I'd realise that there were a bunch of things wrong with book one that I'd want to change. Only problem is, by this time book one is most likely done and dusted.

Clearly, the only way I could manage this process was if I didn't release any books until the whole series was done. This would mean constant re-editing of all books. I'm not sure I could handle that.

Having said that, I am having a go at a series of a sort. Once I get my third Neville Lansdowne story out (tentatively titled Scrawling), I'll have three volumes of Neville. I suppose it's kind of a series, even though each story basically stands on its own. I'm not sure if there's some sort of a rule I'm breaking there as far as series definition goes - and I don't really care anyway.

So I'm continuing to churn ahead with Neville's new adventures - and I'm not looking back at his old ones. We'll see where he takes me next.