July 22-24, 2021


In for the Long Haul: The Craft of Writing a Series

Whether an author is crafting a trilogy or an ongoing series, serial writing demands considerable forethought and particular tools of the trade. This session will weigh the pros and cons of writing a series or trilogy and look at the decisions necessary in the earliest planning stages and beyond. This workshop will present techniques that are crucial to maintaining continuity, how to craft a single plot for each book and over-arching plot for the series, how to age characters authentically, how to engage readers who start mid-series, and how to tie the series/trilogy together at the end in a manner satisfying to readers.

Publishers these days shy away from novels, especially debut novels, much longer than 125,000 words. But what if an author’s story demands more words? This workshop will be of interest to those who discover their story is too long for one novel but are not certain how to write it across multiple books, and will appeal as well to those who already have a series or trilogy in mind.

First and foremost, the workshop will distinguish and define a series/trilogy: is it the same protagonist, the same story style (biographical, mystery, etc.), such as Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon series; the same structure, the same POV, the same period, locale, or all such criteria? Does it have to be chronological in structure? Can it be several books set in the same period or family with different protagonists, such as John Jakes’ Kent Family Chronicals? And does each book have to continue the first’s themes and conflicts for it to connect as a series/trilogy?

Serial writing demands considerable forethought as well as particular tools of the trade. This workshop will delineate the pros and cons of writing a series or trilogy and will emphasize the decisions an author needs to make during the earliest planning stages and beyond.

Topics will include techniques for designing an over-arching story-line in addition to individual plot-lines that lead to a satisfactory conclusion for each book, as in Bernard Cornwell’s Saxon Tales, J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter Series and Donna Russo Morin’s Da Vinci’s Disciples Trilogy.

The material will address creating recurring main characters who must, like Diana Gabaldon’s Claire and Jamie Fraser, have such compelling personalities and face such breathless adventures that readers will eagerly follow them through book after book.

The lecture will include discussion of continuity of tone and character, which are so essential for crafting a successful series/trilogy, provide how-to tips for bringing readers in mid-series, and weighing the pros and cons of making the main character a historical figure versus a fictional character surrounded by historical figures and events.

Lastly, tips will be offered for bringing the series/trilogy to a full and fulfilling conclusion.