Recently the second in my DS Ruby Preston series launched with my publishers Bookouture. There is so much to take into consideration when writing a new series. The setting, characters and plot all come into the equation. I’m hugely grateful that reader reviews of both books have been hugely positive.
So how do you write a successful series and get great reviews? See my top three tips below.
Location, location, location.
Setting is hugely important. You have three choices. Write in a fictional setting, set it somewhere that exists, or have a mixture of the two. Mixing real locations with fictional streets for the grittier scenes can work well. Whatever you choose, make sure that you can identify with it. Lee Child once said that you don’t need to visit your setting as long as you write with confidence. With Google street view and Yell.com to hand, there’s no excuse when it comes to writing with authenticity. Facebook is a great place to put a shout out when asking for help with local knowledge. Just don’t forget to thank your assistant in the acknowledgements of your book when it’s published.
I give more thought to my characters than any other aspect of my writing. I’m not saying everyone should do the same, only that it works for me. At first, it’s like a blind date, stiff and awkward. Your character won’t give themselves up to you straight away. That shouldn’t stop you getting down your first draft. Sometimes I surprise myself with what my characters say. It can be quite magical at times and becomes more natural with each book I write. The most important thing is to make sure you have enough petrol in the tank to keep you going for more than a few books. You might be only considering writing three, but if it takes off, you might find yourself being offered a deal to write much more. Don’t paint yourself into a corner. It also helps if you have several strong characters. Always consider character arc. How are they going to change? How do they affect the lives of the people around them? Where do their relationships go from here?
Obviously, you will work out a plot for your story, but you also need a theme with some mileage in it. With DS Ruby Preston, book one featured a serial killer who was on the hunt for the perfect mother. But there were several other themes running within the story which had far-reaching consequences which would carry on beyond the first book. Ruby’s childhood, her relationship with gangster and ex-lover Nathan Crosby, and a past that returned to haunt her. There were other strong characters too. DI Downes, who was struggling to get over the loss of his wife the year before. DCI Worrow, a very hidden and private woman who has a story to tell. Not to mention other characters that I won’t mention, for fear of spoiling the story. There are lots more elements to writing a story but if you nail the three listed above you’re onto a great start.
Are you writing a series? Finding it a challenge? Comments are welcome below.