Wednesday 2 September 2009

Guest C.L. Talmadge discusses "Writing a fiction series".

Please welcome my guest today, C.L. Talmadge, author of the Green Stone of Healing book series. She has a fascinating discussion in store for you readers, as she shares insights on writing a fiction series
Don't forget to comment for your chance to win a copy of her book set.

Writing a fiction series
By C.L. Talmadge

A series is what happens to fiction when the story is just too big to stuff into one book. What is old about fiction is new again.

During the 19th century, many of the novels we know today started out as serialized stories in daily or weekly broadsheets or monthly magazines. Two instantly recognizable examples are the works of Charles Dickens and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s profiles of his famous detective, Sherlock Holmes. These authors were paid initially by the word or the column inch, which encouraged them to be prolific writers.

Their readers expected Dickens and Doyle to unroll their tales in stages and looked forward to the next installment. Serialized fiction gained new life in the late 20th century with two publishing phenomena, the Harry Potter and Left Behind series. Both of these showed publishers yet again that diverse sets of readers are willing to absorb fiction a bit at a time instead of all at once.

A fiction series is probably better suited to 21st century readers precisely they do not have to spend a great deal of time with each step of the plot. After all, there are blogs, fantasy sports, Facebook, movies, online news, text messaging, Twitter, YouTube and so forth demanding their attention, too.

The challenge for writers of serialized fiction is to give readers enough to feel satisfied yet hold more of the story in reserve to keep them tantalized. This is a delicate balance and there’s simply no formula for it. How it works out depends entirely on the plot. The easiest, most prevalent kind of fiction series features a character, very often a police detective or private gumshoe, with numerous cases to solve, each case forming a separate novel.

But it is possible to write one long story as a series, too. In this case, the tales that are best for serialization have lots of ups and downs, and twist and turns, offering numerous points at which the protagonist(s) face some sort of danger, challenge, or quandary. Ending at any one of these spots leaves some questions resolved and others still to be answered, inducing frustration and anticipation.
Several hundred manuscript pages into the first draft of what I thought would be one novel, I realized it had to be a series. The Green Stone of Healing® speculative epic was born. The series is really two parallel tales. The first is an old woman’s fictionalized memoire narrated in the third-person past tense. This is by far most of the story.

It is prefaced and followed, however, by first-person, present-tense short sakes about her current perils. This two-track structure is possible only when the author knows how the story ends. Readers also know how it ends (badly), but that is not as important as why it ends so terribly. And thanks to the memoire writer’s running accounts of her current challenges, they also know that hope survives. That is important when times are dark.

Another challenge in writing a series like this is the sheer number of characters involved over four generations and multiple countries. I began a glossary in the first book, and add to it with each subsequent book. Many times I refer to the glossary myself when writing about certain characters, just to refresh my memory about that character’s likely political affiliations and attitude toward the heroine.

Although crafting a compelling series makes fiction even harder than normal, it can also make it more rewarding, too. A series gives an author the luxury of character development over time and of exploring questions, like the why behind the what, that one-book works simply cannot or do not accommodate.

C.L. Talmadge is the author of the Green Stone of Healing® speculative epic. The fourth in the series, Outcast, will be published Oct. 1. Vote for the first book, The Vision, through Sept. 25 and get a free e-book on healing, love, and spirituality. Details at her blog:

The Green Stone of Healing:
The series features four generations of strong-willed female characters who inherit a mysterious green gem ultimately revealed to mend broken bones and broken hearts, protect against missiles, and render its wearers undetectable.
For more information about each book, please visit

You can check out her entire virtual book tour here:


Sheila Deeth said...

Thanks for an interesting article, and for the introduction to the series. It's rather comforting to think of a writer referring to the glossary sometimes. I've read elsewhere recently about how series allow the writer to develop side-characters and plots and give more depth to the story. Reading this article, I'm now looking back at the classics, and seeing how that really did work there. Fascinating.

PT Dilloway said...

I've found writing a series is tough and not usually something I have much interest in doing. Though right now I am working on a sequel to something.

Malcolm R. Campbell said...

I really enjoyed this article. In the past, I've tended to think of sequels rather than novels in an integrated series. Your advice here will help me make some important decisions that I've been putting off for way too long.


Subscribe Now:

Search This Blog

Powered By Blogger

Monthly Pageviews