I've not read any of Katy's books yet, but they're on my kindle waiting on me. And I won a dragon from her once. You can't go wrong with dragons.
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Continuing a Series
by Katy Huth Jones
Have you ever read "The End" in a book and wondered what happened next? A good stand-alone novel should tie up all the loose ends and leave the reader satisfied with the ending.
Sometimes, though, we grow to love the characters so much, we imagine what their lives might be like after the story ends. Readers often write fan fiction in response. Writers who can't let go of their characters write series.
I actually hadn't planned to write a series with my first fantasy. It was supposed to be a stand-alone. But my editor asked me, "Is there more to this story? Can you write a sequel?" And I said, "Uh, I can try!"
It was more difficult than I imagined. I had to brainstorm for a couple of weeks, bugging my main character to tell me what happened in her life after she returned from Finian Jahndra (which spurred the idea for the sequel as well as the title--Return to Finian Jahndra).
Once I started asking, "What if?" questions, a plot gradually took shape, and I even found a way to give the MC, Leandra, a realistic happy ending. Several readers, though, have asked me, "Is there more?" So, I hope to write the third and FINAL book once I'm finished with my WIP. I have some notes and a title:
Speaking of my WIP. When I originally wrote fumble-fingered drafts of this fantasy, not knowing what I was doing, I envisioned three books from the beginning, you know, the typical fantasy trilogy. Since it took me more than twenty years to get book one into a publishable form, the story grew and grew, and it will now be five books, each one averaging 130,000 words. Yes, I'm crazy! But this is epic fantasy with a cast of hundreds (thousands, actually, though they don't all have names) taking place over fifteen years in a made-up medieval world meant to feel like twelfth century Britain but populated by dragons of all sizes.
It would be easier if I was more organized. I make copious notes about the characters, minor as well as the main ones. I distract myself from actually writing the story by coming up with family heraldry, finding pictures on Pinterest, drawing maps, adding to my "Cast of Characters," but they are not all in one place, so sometimes I waste time looking for details to make sure I don't have two characters with similar names, use the same horse for two different people, or accidentally resurrect someone who has died.
I highly recommend that while writing a book, every book, in fact, you keep all your notes in
ONE notebook. Even if you're not planning to write a series, your story might become one, and you'll be glad when you reach book 5 to more easily find the name of that guard captain who appeared in book 1, so you don't have to reread entire sections to find the information you need.
Oh, and make sure you resolve all your threads by the last book.
ALL of them! Another good reason to keep good notes.
One last device that holds a series together is to not only have individual story arcs in the books, but to have an overall series arc. Since I've always thought of my epic fantasy as one long story, it's been easier to do than with the shorter fantasy. In fact, the climax of book 4 is so powerful, it almost feels like the climax of the entire series, so I'm paying extra attention to the plot in book 5 to build up to the resolution, not only of book 5, but of the series. I want to end with a resonant gong. No pressure, right?
I can already tell you I know several readers who are going to say, "What happens next?" Maybe they can write fan fiction. Or maybe, after I finish some other projects, I'll have to revisit this world with some short stories. After all, because I know the characters so well, I can tell you what happens in their lives and their children's lives for many years to come....