Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Sequels, Sagas, and Trilogies…Oh, My! by Nicole Dunlap author of Shattered Imperfections

blurb / synopsis
Nobody is perfect. Through the scandalous family lies that bind them all together the Shaw women have survived. Four generations of women have tackled ups and downs: now, Annette is perfectly comfortable wither life. Charlene has tasted the bittersweet notes of success. Raven is preparing for the wedding of a century, and a life rich in love afterward. Beautiful, young Royael has all the pleasures of a princess…
While Dallas is in uproar over a gruesome rape-homicide, a lead Detective transforms into the ultimate stalker. A hitman lurks nearby. And death will surely come. The list of those wanting vengeance has reached its peak, but the Bible says that “God will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.”
Take one last roller coaster ride with the Shaw and Devereux families. Will there be rest for these souls?

Guest Post

You’ve written your best work and the reading world will love the masterpiece. Like a crafty writer, your brain has already worked plot-points and scenarios for a fantastic sequel. Then there’s a “creative brain explosion” and your mind has conjured up an outline of a three book, four book,–no wait–a five book series.

The upside of writing a series:
    1.  After completing the first book, a writer has bonded with their characters. Choosing to write one an additional book or more will intensify character development. These characters become real and readers feel a connection and in a sense it makes the plot–all the pain the characters go through–even more explosive. As the author of the Shaw Family Saga, I’ve come to love and connect with my characters. Fans and bloggers have commented on how real the characters seem. Even by the last book, I’ve gotten reviews about grown with the characters.

   2.  Readers are loyal. When they find an author that they love, they scour the internet–or the back flap of a novel–to find out more about said author. Hooking a “bookworm” with the first in a series can lead to a lifetime relationship, meaing increased book sales.

   3.  Trilogies are often paused on cliffhangers–it is a form of enticement to continue on to the next story. Readers love books that stir their emotions. A good story can stay on a readers’ mind long after they’ve turned the last page of the book. We’ve all seen those reviews that say “can’t wait for the next one!” (Caution, if the plot points are developed incorrectly this is also a con, which will be noted on the “downside” of writing a series.)

   4.   There is a potential for increased interaction with fans. Venting and praising in the form of reviews are a bookworm’s go-to. Authors get a chance to learn what fans may or may not have liked. This can lead to interaction by engaging on social media. For example, having a Facebook/ Twitter event where the readers can say what they would like to see happen next. Be creative, and listen to what fans have to say. It will spark ideas or potential changes in a story that you hadn’t even known was possible.

    5.   Brand–it’s a big word in the publishing world. Being known as the author of the “Hunger Games” series or the [insert the first famous epic author at the top of your head here] really solidifies a brand and increases the word-of-mouth aspect of marketing that helps authors sell, sell, sell.

The downside of writing a trilogy

   1.   Time can be the biggest issue. Sagas are usually written over an extended period of time. While writing the subsequent stories, I had to continuously revert to the previous book(s). And for those stories that have even more in a series, being consistent throughout is important.

    2. Another issue with consistency is that novelist must edit their work. Editting… what a no-brainer! Sometimes scenes have been cut out or added in and it’s easy to forget. A writer has the unedited version of a story in their memory–and if done right– the readers have the fully edited story that has been prepped for consistency and flow. So toggling back and forth from stories or having a chapter outline is key.

    3. Continuing the story with different segments must be done with “refresher information” in between to ensure cross-consistency. It takes a creative novelist to determine how much back story or “refresher information” to add in the next read. So new fans can be in ‘the know’ and old fans aren’t bored.

    4. Through researching different sites, many readers complain about overly-developed first stories. We get it, book one sets the stage for the entire series. But, creating a new world and a hundred pages of the novel can be highlighted as purely setting is a no-no. Or there’s an arsenal of characters in the story that have a back story–adding another fifty pages. While focusing on just these two parts of a novel, the author hasn’t even developed an interesting plot, leading to slow introduction book.

    5. The author decides to spoon feed the reader sets of plotlines. Without juicy webs of tension, the reader is caught in a tangle of sticky never-ending webs. Based on readers’ comments, if plotlines are being opened, opened, opened, they may just set the book aside or rant in the form of a review because nothing is being resolved. This is an epic fail.

To write a sequel, saga, or trilogy, the choice is yours
Whether you choose to write a standalone or you’re in it for the long haul, there are many pieces of the puzzle to take into perspective. Outlined above are a few–subjective–reasons to continue on the road to a saga or not. What are some other ideas you can think of before taking the plunge? Don’t introduce a problem in book one with no intention of ending it until book three. Keep in mind, it’s a big job. Have flash cards of very important points available for each book so you can cross reference. You don’t want to weave a stick web of never-ending plot.

I did it,” Royael smiled up at Cassidy. For the fourth time, she rubbed her hands together and placed them behind her back in order to stop the finger twiddling habit that her mom, Raven had.
“I know,” Cassidy patted the top of her head.
“Is Sadie coming over now? You don’t have to watch us anymore.” Royael wanted Sadie back to babysit not this woman.
“We’ll just have to see what your father says,” Cassidy replied, smothering the bread with peanut butter and jelly.
“Did you chill the glass for my milk?” Royael asked in her bossy tone.
“Uh-I forgot.”
That’s why I need Sadie! “You said after I told dad that Tyriq met mom at the mall, Sadie could come back! I want Sadie.” She went off just like she’d seen her friend Kimberly do when wanting to go home from the party. She’d never been one for a fall on the floor tantrum type. But she’d taken her mom’s suggestion and worn her only pair of jeans today–old ones. She’d fall out if need be. When Cassidy didn’t respond, that’s exactly what she did.
It was so quick, Cassidy standing over her. Cassidy’s hand clamped over Royael’s mouth and nose. The fire sparked in Cassidy’s dark brown eyes. “I said wait till your father, Jon, gets home from jai–his trip! Now…”
Royael tugged and pulled. Her nose was crushed, and she couldn’t breathe.
“Will you wait?”
She nodded vigorously.
With a smile, Cassidy took her hand away. “Give me a hug, Royael.”
Snail paced, Royael got off the floor and moved toward her. She didn’t want to, because the last time Cassidy had held her in a bear hug so tight it took her breath. Now she was just recovering from the woman’s smothering, but Royael put a smile on her face and hugged her.
“You know I’m looking out for you, right?”
“Ye…yes,” Royael said through grimaced lips.
“Raven loves your little brother more than you. You know that, right?”
“Yes,” tears formed in Royael’s eyes. Why doesn’t Mommy love me as much?
“You want Sadie to come back and babysit and play. You want it to be just you and Jon and Sadie; right? NOT RAVEN!”
Royael nodded, eating up Cassidy’s realities. It was exactly what she wanted. “Yes, me and Daddy and Sadie to babysit.”
“So you need to be a good girl. When he comes home, you can ask if it’s okay for Sadie to come over.”
“I thought you said she could stay? She could babysit me forever? You said Daddy would leave Mommy after finding out that she’s still friends with Uncle Ty! You said they’d get a device.” I don’t know why they can’t be friends, but I have to get Sadie back! And Daddy all to myself.
Divorce not device. But yes. I did.” Cassidy took Royael’s face in her hand. She rubbed at the tears. “There there, dear child. Your father loves you. One day, you won’t have to worry about Raven bothering you anymore. But for now, just wait till Jon gets home. Andddd?”
“I remember, Cassidy. I can’t mention that you helped.” Royael said with her eyes wide. Every time Cassidy finished their conversation with the long-winded word as if she didn’t remember how to keep a secret.
“Yes.” Cassidy nodded.
The sound of the monitor came on. Noah cried. They ignored it.  After a while Royael’s baby brother would stop crying. He always stopped.
“How about until you see Sadie, you put make up on my face?”
Royael held in her smile. “Okay, Cassidy.” I’ma make you look like a clown.

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