Happy Thursday! We’ve got a special guest today. Author Darlene Foster has been kind enough to stop in to offer us writers some handy advice on keeping a book series fresh and interesting!
Brought up on a ranch in southern Alberta, Darlene Foster dreamt of travelling the world and meeting interesting people. Her desire to write started when she was twelve and her short stories have since won a number of awards. She is the author of the exciting adventure series featuring spunky 12-year-old Amanda Ross who loves to travel to unique places. Her books include Amanda in Arabia – The Perfume Flask, Amanda in Spain – The Girl in The Painting, Amanda in England – The Missing Novel and Amanda in Alberta – The Writing on the Stone. Readers of all ages enjoy travelling with Amanda as she unravels one mystery after another. Darlene and her husband divide their time between the west coast of Canada and Orihuela Costa, in Spain. She believes everyone is capable of making their dreams come true.
Keeping a Series Fresh
by Darlene Foster
I didn´t plan to write a series. I had an idea to write a book about a young girl who wishes for travel and adventure and ends up going on a trip to the United Arab Emirates. My story was loosely based on my own visit to this amazing country.
It took me three years to write the story. During the next five years, as I looked for a publisher, I began to write a story about the same girl who travels to Spain, another country I visited. I eventually found the perfect publisher and after my first book was released, my publisher asked me if I had another book about Amanda and her travels. I was happy to report that the first draft of another adventure was almost completed.
The rest, as they say, is history. Since then, Amanda has had adventures in England, Alberta and on the Danube. Book number five of the Amanda Travels series was released on October 1, and the first draft of book number 6 is almost completed.
Writing a series has proven to be fun. It is great getting to know the main characters very well. But there is always the chance the stories might get too predictable. I know my readers expect some things to be familiar but each book should come with surprises to keep it fresh and entertaining.
The Amanda travel books are stand-alone and can be read in any order. Coming up with new settings is easy for me as I love to travel. I now travel with an Amanda adventure in mind, taking tons of notes and pictures. Coming up with a story line that is original and exciting can sometimes be a challenge. So what do I do?
Here is a list of some things that help me get fresh new ideas
- Hang out with young people to learn what they get excited about
- Watch kid’s TV shows and movies
- Read lots of books in a variety of genres including the classics and recently published novels
- Look at photographs to remind myself what made me excited, scared and interested when I was a kid
- Read newspapers, clip and save interesting and bizarre stories. Go through the stack of clippings once in a while, there is usually something that will pop out and generate a new idea or two
- Listen to conversations in coffee shops, on the bus, on the street – wherever. Conversations between adults, kids, or teenagers can inspire excellent ideas
- Ask “what if”. What if Amanda did something she knew she shouldn’t? What if a character said something they wouldn’t normally say? What if……..
- Make sure every book tackles a totally new problem or issue. If Amanda looks for a missing vintage novel in England, she can’t be looking for another book in Spain.
- Introduce intriguing new characters in each book. Even minor characters can create interest and keep the series from getting stale
- Amanda stays the same age in all the books but I try to show different sides to her and have her grow as a person. Every now and then I have her do something totally out of character. Sometimes she even surprises me!
These things help me keep the series from getting stale and predictable. Although I write for children, I believe these ideas would help for any series regardless of the target readership.
Do you have any other ideas to share? I would love to hear about them in the comments.
Thanks for having me as a guest on your blog, Rachael.
Such a pleasure having you on the blog, Darlene! And I totally agree. These tips are great for anyone writing a series! Thank you for sharing and congrats on your fun & adventurous series. 🙂
Connect with Darlene on social media!
- Blog: https://darlenefoster.wordpress.com/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DarleneFosterWriter
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/supermegawoman
- Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3156908.Darlene_Foster