What To Consider When Starting A Sequel

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Hello everyone! I hope everyone is doing well and staying safe during this chaotic time in the world. My family and I have been practicing social distancing for the last week now, and we have been doing the best we can to fill up the time. I have been working on lots of outreach this week for my preorders as well as starting the sequel to Chasing Fae, tentatively titled Chasing War. I have also been spending lots of time with my sister playing board games and working on some creative projects together. Online classes start on Monday, and it’s definitely going to be… interesting. I hope everything turns out alright.

Today, I want to talk a little bit of my experience in starting this sequel and some tips on how to start your second book as a continuation of the story in your first. I think it’s an interesting topic that I haven’t touched on yet in terms of working with a fantasy series.

Starting Chasing War

I have tried to start this sequel three times since I finished Chasing Fae. Which is pretty amusing to me because based on the outline I’ve created, this book of the trilogy is probably going to be my favorite to write. The first time was during NaNoWriMo where I got extremely ill and ended up having to cancel my attempt while I recovered. The second time, I ended up having intense midterm exams and papers that all coincided with each other. Finally, I’m having an opportunity to write during this period of isolation at home. But even now, I’m having a little trouble.

I think the simple explanation is that somehow I’ve forgotten what it’s like to write the first draft. Which brings me to my first major tip of writing your first sequel:

Don’t Forget That The First Draft Will Not Look Like Your FINISHED First Book.

The first draft is inherently flawed. And that’s okay! That’s more than okay! The first draft is about having something solid to build off of and modify and evolve into something incredible. Try to remember that your first book takes months and months and maybe even years to complete. The first draft will not represent the extent of what you can produce. Remember that. I’m trying to!

Your sequel should have its own arc.

While your sequel does build off the previous book, each book needs to have its own unique arc that gets wrapped up by the end of the story. Remember, your reader wants to see something new out of your characters and out of your universe. Your main character needs to take another transformative journey and evolve as a person. You will see the world in your novel change, sometimes in subtle ways and other times in dramatic times like the outbreak of war or a widespread disaster. Feel free to let your imagination run wild!

Bring New Characters To The Table

Time to create new voices! One of the best parts about writing a sequel, in my opinion, is to add new characters to the mix. There is always a new character or group of characters that comes in and shakes things up. Personally, I have a whole host of new voices that are going to change everything for Grace, and they are going to cause a LOT of trouble. Trust me.

Don’t be afraid to start something new. Happy writing, everybody!

Oh! And if you haven’t checked out my preorder campaign for my debut novel, Chasing Fae, please click here to learn more!

Writing Endings

Alright, it’s time for me to get back to writing about fantasy writing! One of the most important elements of a novel that you have to nail is your ending. Your beginning pulls readers in, and your plot and your characters keep the reader engaged for the subsequent book. But your ending has got to bring everything home. A bad ending on a great book will leave a sour taste in the reader’s mouth. Trust me, I’ve been there. Even if you love the book, there’s something about a poor ending that can erase part of that happiness.

So, the ending is pretty important. Today, I want to talk about what it means to finish a book well and a few tips that I’ve picked up while writing Chasing Fae.

Finish Your Plot.

This seems like it should be obvious, but it warrants saying anyway for several reasons. Your ending has to wrap up the main storyline. You have to finish the main plot arc of the book regardless of whether you are continuing on the storyline in a sequel. A definitive end must be visible for your reader, or you may leave them wanting. You should also consider your subplots. If it’s a standalone story, everything must end. If you plan on having a sequel or several sequels, then in my personal opinion, subplots should come to a natural stopping place. It doesn’t have to be a positive place; for example, you can end a relationship in a tumultuous position. But I think that it’s important for readers to feel like there’s a clear pause.

Make sure your ending makes sense.

Your ending should feel natural. It’s perfectly acceptable to wrap up the main plot and then have a scene or two afterwards that allows the characters to simmer down to normalcy or the new normal after the climax. Let’s see the aftermath of the character’s decisions over the course of the book. What has to change in order for the world around them to stabilize? Does the world stabilize, or is this the beginning of a new conflict? If your main character’s world calms down, write about how they feel now that the adventure is over. Who is in their life now to stay? Who has disappeared? If your ending is going to lead into a new conflict in a subsequent book, your readers want to see the inklings of that rising. Offer some hints into what is to come, even super vague ones. One of my favorite books of all time, A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas, has an amazing ending that was a little strange and intriguing reading it the first time. And then when you read the second book, about midway through, I suddenly went “OH! EVERYTHING MAKES SENSE NOW! THIS IS AMAZING!” *subsequent reader screaming*. Experiment with your ending. Write it a few different ways and see what you like best. Get other writers’ or readers’ opinions.

Show Your Protagonist In All Their Glory.

Your ending does not have to showcase a triumphant moment. Your protagonist could be suffering after a horrible loss. The most important role of your ending is to show how your main character has grown internally over the course of the novel. Whether you are depicting victory and resolution or defeat and the construction of a new plan, your character’s emotions will show up on the page. In a victory situation, you will see happiness or you may see them step into a new role in their lives. There may be an aura of calm about them that is totally different from what the reader has seen over the course of the novel. In a defeat situation, there’s a lot of anger and sadness and fear, and you have a real opportunity to lay out your character’s innermost thoughts. You can attest to their stubbornness and their determination and as a writer, strongly convey that pivotal decision to get up and try again in the next book. I personally love both kinds of endings, but especially the latter. You want to know if the protagonist will get what they deserve out of life. As a reader, I crave it; I absolutely have to know. And that’s what keeps me reading and keeps me buying the next book in a series.

Happy writing, everyone.

Should I Hire A Developmental Editor?

There is a lot of discussion among the Writing Community as to whether or not hiring a developmental editor would be beneficial for your book before going through edits yourself. Some say that it can be very beneficial especially if you’re not sure where to begin. Others say that you should be doing all of the developmental editing yourself. I found myself on the fence in the debate until I had the opportunity to work with a developmental editor through the Book Creator Program I am working with on my history book. And what I have discovered is it may come down to the type of writer that you are. So let’s weigh the pros and cons of working with a developmental editor.

Pro #1: Feedback

The most important and beneficial role that a developmental editor plays is giving you solid feedback about where you are going with your book and how to get there better. My developmental editor is fantastic at telling me what I’m doing right and giving me specific ways to improve a certain section or a certain chapter. It’s the specificity that I so desperately need. When I was working on Chasing Fae, I always worried about whether my chapters had a logical progression or whether my characters were strong enough or whether I was even in the league of the great writers I grew up reading. Understanding where your writing works and where it can be improved can be extremely boosting for your morale and help continue to motivate you to get your book finished.

Pro #2: Helping You Stay Committed

While not all developmental editors work like this, through the Book Creator Program my editor gives me specific deadlines when to have new material to her finished by. With my busy school schedule, I wasn’t able to work during the semester as much as I wanted to. By setting firm deadlines over the holidays, I started feeling a lot better about where I was and where I was headed. However, even if your developmental editor is only going to look at one lump sum of what you’ve got at the time of submission, it can still be a great motivator. Think about it this way: you submit your material to see where it’s at. Even if it comes back slashed up with red pen and with a lot of leading questions about where you may want to go, you can use that to further your writing. You will have real feedback that you can use to transform your book into a better version of the story. You will have a better idea of where the book is at and how much farther you have to go.

Con #1: If You Are A Writer Who Enjoys Working Independently, You May Have A Hard Time.

This has nothing to do with whether you’re receptive to criticism or not. Instead, I’m talking about how much control you enjoy having over your own book. In my time with the Book Creator program, I’ve realized that I enjoy working on my book independently for the most part. I love receiving the feedback and having deadlines, but there’s a little part of me that likes to be able to write whenever I choose and submit things in one large batch. Now of course, I need to learn how to work with smaller pieces in specific deadlines, and I am. But if you are a writer who enjoys working independently, you may be better off taking some time away from your book and then coming back with fresh eyes to do your own developmental work.

Con #2: Price

If a developmental editor is not in your budget, don’t do it. Hiring a professional editor of any kind can be quite expensive. Do not try to stretch yourself to pay for an editor if you don’t have the funds. Not having a developmental editor will not harm you in the long run. Will it make things easier for you? Perhaps. But there’s no guarantee that your book will be any better off with or without one.

So What Is The Best Option?

I think it all depends on the type of writer that you are. If you’re a writer who needs to have direct professional feedback to know if you’re on the right track in order to continue on, then absolutely find yourself a developmental editor and go from there. If you’re a more independent author who prefers to do their own revision work, go ahead and do your own editing. If you lie somewhere in the middle, weigh the pros and cons and make the decision that is best for you.

Happy writing!

Constructing War

Hey everyone! We’re a little over three weeks away from Fluff About Fantasy’s one year anniversary! Isn’t that crazy? I’ve been running this website for almost a year now. I am so lucky to have readers like you who have kept me going all this time. Without further ado, let’s get to today’s subject: building fantastical war.

War will play a significant role in my trilogy, but Chasing Fae only brings the underlying hints of the impending conflict. I’ve always loved reading war in fantasy, but only when it’s done right. I’m not the kind of reader who needs to see a play-by-play of every minor battle and conflict that moves the war forward, but I also don’t want to only see one or two major battles and that’s it. I want to construct the series in such a way that the war arc is clearly a large component, but not so large that it dominates the characters and their journey. I’ve done a bit of research into what that looks like, and I want to share that research with you. Please keep in mind that these points aim for that nice middle ground.

Find Your Purpose.

War happens for a reason. Whether it’s a major reason or whether everything got started because someone wore the wrong color shirt, you have to give your conflict a starting place. More often than not, that reason will have to do with something political. Think about it: resources, morality, religion, love – everything can be take a political stance on a large scale or a small scale like family politics. But the reason has to be big enough and strong enough for people to want to fight in horrific battles and lose their lives for.

War Affects Everyone.

War is going to affect your universe’s people from the top down. It doesn’t matter what the economical and political dynamics are; everyone plays a role and everyone will be impacted by the events. Are some of your people rich enough to pay their way out of having to fight? Who do they send? Will their land get seized? What about the poor? Do they have the resources needed to outfit their men and women for the fight, and will they be forced to provide anyway even if they don’t? The allocation of resources will change as well. There will be a lot of agricultural resources as well as technological resources that will be transferred from the general populous to the military. How much effect will that have on the people?

Your characters will be affected the most prominently in your story because that is who will drive the plot forward. Make sure you understand how war affects your main character and your secondary characters as you are constructing this conflict.

Battle Vs. Siege

It is important to know the difference between the two of these scenes because you will find both throughout the war you’re building. It’s important to know what to use when.

Battle: Use sparingly. Save it for the most charged moments. These are extremely costly, not just monetarily but also with life. Both sides have to agree that the potential gain would outweigh the loss of life that will occur. When writing these, understand that battles, even small skirmishes, will be chaotic and confusing. Many well laid plans go awry on the battlefield.

Siege: These occur the most often during a war. One side falls back to a stronghold, and the other surrounds it to cut the stronghold off from essential supplies to tempt a surrender. Resources will be scarce, and if there are any citizens inside the stronghold town or city with the military, all sorts of things can happen. Will citizens try to flee? Will they be fighting with their own soldiers over food? How well do the citizens trust the people protecting them?

Consider The Aftermath.

What does the end of the war look like? Which side surrenders to the other? Is there ever a formal surrender? Are there any skirmishes that occur before news of the surrender reaches all of the corners of the universe? And after the war is over, you have to consider how each side puts their states and their lives back together. It won’t happen overnight. There will be governments to put back together, cities and towns to be rebuilt, and people to be rehabilitated. Don’t skimp on this if you mention it at all. The end is just as important as the beginning.

I hope this gives you some good ideas and some direction on constructing war in your fantasy novel. Happy writing!

Writing Friends: Elias Alam

Hey everybody! Today, I’m trying out something new. I would love to expand this platform to be able to sit down with other young fantasy writers and get their perspectives on writing in this genre. Today, I would like to introduce you to my friend, Elias Alam. He’s been super active on my Twitter feed since I started the account in February, and he’s super energetic to share what he’s learned about the fantasy genre. Let’s get started!

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am Elias Alam, a 17 something writer from the Himalayan mountains of India. From an early age, I have had a deep fascination for the unknown, and from an early age, I have started writing about the various worlds in my mind.

What is your current work in progress?

Currently, I have two main WIPS. The first is Ad Infinitum, which is an epic dark science/fantasy military space opera comic series and the second is Elladia, which is a dark epic high military fantasy novel series.

Tell us a little bit about the world your story is set in.

I am going to go with Elladia since it is way more simpler than Ad Infinitum. The world itself is a planet around the size of Uranus, so it has far more land area than Earth. Four moons orbit it, which form the basis of many calendars in the Planet. Presently, the world is racked by a millennia old war between the two global superpowers: the Sanguine Imperium (consisting of Humans, Undead and some other demi-human races) and the Aegean Empire (consisting of a race of humanoids known as the Argonites). Both sides have been in a deadlock with neither side holding an advantage over the other and locked in an eternal cycle of bloodshed. Unbeknownst to them however, the main antagonist Arkanos is plotting his return in order to subjugate all of Elladia and began his tyrannical rule over the creations of the Gods. This forms the main backdrop of the story.

What’s your writing style like? Are you an outliner or a pantser? How do you draft?

For the prose part, my writing style is a mix between Orwellian and Tolkienian prose. I make a compromise when it comes to that by writing prose which is as simple as possible whilst also trying to emulate the beauty of Tolkenian prose. I would also call myself a die-hard outlinist on every part except for characters, which have to come organically and naturally. For the drafting process, I usually try to get the first draft done as soon as possible, and the later drafts are just mainly for finding plot holes, improving weak story links and fixing other issues.

What do you think is the most difficult part of writing?

Frankly, the most difficult part of writing is the story. It’s just so damn hard to keep the sequence of events interesting. To know how to put which event in which order is a war in itself. It also gets hard for me to advance the story at points where I just don’t know what to write next and what the characters will do in the next chapter.

What is your best advice for writers who are worldbuilding?

Truth be told, even I am still incredibly new to the realm of worldbuilding. But if you want my opinions, then I can say that one should focus on mostly one aspect of worldbuilding at a time and devote most of one’s creative energy on that part. It’s fine to think and write about other aspects as long as you don’t overstretch yourself.

What’s your revising process like?

My revising process mostly focuses on fixing plot holes and strengthening weak story links. Another important part of it is fixing the wording here and there to clear up any confusion the readers would have. For the actual revising process, I go through my manuscript line by line so that even the smallest of mistakes doesn’t go unnoticed.

What are some of your favorite fantasy books?

The Stormlight Archives by Brandon Sanderson has got to be, by far, my most favorite fantasy novel series. It was a big source of inspiration for me and part of what inspired my incredibly worldbuilding heavy fiction. Besides that, the Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson, the Malazan series by Steven Erikson and the Lord of the Rings trilogy by Tolkien are definitely among some of my favorite fantasy novels. A honorable mention should also go to the A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R. R. Martin.

Thank you so much for joining me on Fluff About Fantasy today, Elias! I look forward to collaborating more with you in the future. If any writer is interested in being featured in an interview, reach out to me! Happy writing, everyone!

Elias Alam’s Links:

WIPS on World Anvil: https://www.worldanvil.com/w/elladia-redclaw123

Discord Server: https://discord.gg/csd57nv

Twitter: @Redclaw38812660

Twitch: https://www.twitch.tv/https://www.twitch.tv/merosia

Touchy Subjects: When and Where To Use Them

One of the hardest parts of writing is that there will always be someone who has a problem with your work.

When I was on the Write Track Podcast back in July, one of the topics that was brought up on my episode was a growing “cancel culture” in YA literature. For those of you who don’t know what “cancel culture” is, don’t worry. Before that podcast, I had no idea either. I did a bit of research, and what I found honestly startled me. Books with controversial subjects or controversial tropes are being removed from the market often before they even have a chance to get started. While in some cases this can be due to actual bigotry in the writing or in the author’s actions themselves, I found that a decent number of books were being canceled by publishers because people were becoming offended by their subject matter.

One Chinese-American author, Amélie Zhao, had to withdraw her upcoming fantasy novel because she received backlash for the way it approached slavery. In her apology, she stated that her ideas were based on the Asian experience, not the American one. I had a problem with this. I don’t know how the book was written, and honestly, I would need to know that before making a final judgement. But using my historian voice for a second, why do we need to pull something that confronts a different element based in history? If it was well-researched and was adequately told, why should that offend others?

History is messy. We as a country did a lot of horrible things in our past; the world has done a lot of horrible things over the course of human history. Talking about our messy past does more to illuminate it and its horrors; brushing it aside has no inherent value. Absolutely, subjects such as these have to be handled with grace and care, but if we can confront them in writing historical fiction, why not confront it in fantasy as well?

Historically charged issues are not the only subjects that we have to be careful of. Writing about mental health issues, questions of sexuality, or creating a world with seriously skewed politics can spark controversy among readers. But I think as writers, we need to be willing to welcome controversy. We have to be willing to talk about these subjects in order to better understand each other’s points of view on it and grow closer to compromise. We need to be respectful in handling delicate issues, but we don’t need to pre-censor our own writing.

Here are my personal tips for writing about touchy subjects:

#1: Do your research. Writing from experience is always a great place to start. But if you don’t necessarily have applicable personal experience, do your research. Do thorough research. Talk to people. Spend some time browsing the Internet for personal stories, historical summaries, and news articles. I think you can create a main character who has OCD even if you don’t have OCD (using this as an example because I, in fact, do suffer from OCD). But do some research on what people go through with that disorder. Don’t subject your characters to offensive stereotypes. Create nuance. Is it going to take a lot of work? Yes. But you’re a writer. That’s what you’re here for.

#2: Get feedback. Share your work with people in your life who are not afraid to be completely honest and critical about your writing. Preferably people who you know have strong opinions. Opinionated people may be frustrating at times (myself included in that list), but ultimately, you’re going to get honest criticism and feedback. Listen intently to what they have to say. Listen for red flags that you hear from multiple people. Then make a decision on whether you need to adjust your book.

#3: Don’t be afraid. Don’t be afraid to explore new ideas and outlets. Even the most honest and kindest of people have their nemeses who want to see them fail. Your honest mistakes do not define you as a person and as a writer. You’ve got supporters in what you do, and you’ve got a supporter in me! Find your people, and write good things.

Happy writing, my friends.

Should You Try Out NaNoWriMo?

Happy NaNoWriMo, my friends!

Yes, it is that time of year again where writers of all ages are buckling down and knocking out 50,000 words of a novel draft. It’s a fantastic month full of creativity, feverish writing, and passion for a new project. I love interacting with other writers and updating my status with my friends as the month goes on. There’s truly nothing better.

This year, I wasn’t sure if I had the availability to take on NaNoWriMo again this year (click here for an account of last year’s experience). I’ve been working on research and interviews for my Book Creator project, academics have ben a whirlwind, and I just started having some free time to myself for the first time all semester. But at the same time, I was itching to get back to the world of the Three Realms and start my second book of the Chasing Fae trilogy, Chasing War. Eventually, I decided to take November 1st as a trial run day, a test to see if I had enough inspiration to write this story from my outline. Friday was incredible; I wrote over 2000 words of fantasy, the most that I had written in the genre since I finished up my final edits of Chasing Fae in July. I couldn’t wait to write more. That’s how I knew I needed to do NaNoWriMo and make it another real time commitment in my life.

I want to encourage all young writers to undertake this challenge this month. Don’t be discouraged that NaNoWriMo has already started; there are plenty of days left to create something amazing.

Is NaNoWriMo Right For You?

Do you have a novel idea that you are burning to write?: If you’ve got an idea that is so perfect that you are just itching to get it down on paper, NaNoWriMo is the place to start.

Have you struggled with following through on an idea in your writing?: If you’re not great with being motivated enough to finish a novel, trust me, NaNoWriMo may be your savior. I wrote story after story throughout my middle and high school years, but the majority of my novels never got finished. I’d write six to eight chapters and then move on to the next new idea. Last year was the first time that I had completed an entire first draft since my first book written when I was 10 (still won’t see the light of day). This challenge really works as motivation. Use it!

Do you need to add another 50k to the project you’re already working on?: Guess what? NaNoWriMo is for you too! Some people choose not to start an entirely new draft in November; they pick one they’ve been meaning to work on and grind steadily along with that idea until it’s complete. There are no limits to what you can achieve.

Don’t let fear of what you can’t do stand in the way of what you could do. Even if you don’t reach your 50,000 word goal, you’ve still taken that first step towards getting your novel finished. Whether it’s 1000 words, 5000 words, or 50,000 words, there’s nothing more important than just starting.

Happy writing, everyone.

Why Are Themes Important In A Story, And How Do I Find Them?

Despite being a writer, I couldn’t stand English classes. We rarely did any creative writing, mainly academic. We read endless books, which for me, wasn’t horrible except when they just weren’t interesting. (Don’t even get me started on Catcher in the Rye. How is this a classic?) I would get in trouble all the time for reading something else from the library during class.

My hugest pet peeve about English classes, however, was ever present: English teachers’ burning desire to always find the themes of a work of literature. I could never understand what the necessity was. Why did it matter so much that I, a 14 year old child, understand the intricacies of what an author intended to drive forward? How did the teachers know if they were even right about the author’s intentions? What if a writer writes just because they want to tell a good story? I just wanted to enjoy a book, not get into endless discussions about imagery or central themes. (Also as an introvert, round table discussions were my nemesis.)

As I began to write, however, I realized that it was possible for both my English teachers and I to be right about themes in writing. As a writer, my initial goal wasn’t to push forward some central idea let alone several themes that would ring true throughout my novel. But as I wrote the story, I realized that certain ideas naturally began to come to the surface and show examples throughout the book. So perhaps themes are important after all because they drive the story in the undercurrent where enjoyment blends into the importance of reading.

Why Are Themes Important?

I am beginning to recognize that themes are important because they capture the heart of your story. They present a moral or a lesson or teach the reader something about themselves or their fellow man. They represent pieces of advice from the author about what’s the best way to live. Themes also allow readers to connect to the story better. Without some truth and something of real world importance and connection to make your readers want to see your characters grow and change, your book will never get picked up off the shelf.

In Chasing Fae, I’m starting to formulate what my themes look like. PSA For future readers of my book, here’s the real answers to what my story stands for.

First and foremost is a lesson about the people who may not look like much, but at the end of the day are much more powerful than one would believe them to be. Don’t underestimate the dark horse. Don’t underestimate the quiet people around you because they just might be doing the most in their lives. I also want to communicate how family is what you make of it: if your family is chaotic and messy, then you can always create your own. Blood only means so much; it’s trust, loyalty, and love that builds the strongest family. I also want to talk about what it means to build up trust in someone and learning to trust.

These themes are still evolving, and I suspect they’ll transform into more clear thoughts as I move through the publishing process.

How Do I Find The Themes in My Story?

Let them come to you.

In my opinion, it doesn’t often work to have three or four ideas for themes right off the bat before you start writing. Perhaps you’ve got a basic idea of what you want your readers to draw from the story, and that’s okay. That’s fantastic, actually; go ahead and run with that. But you don’t have to know right away exactly what kind of messages you want to send to people. Enjoy writing your novel first. That’s the most important thing.

Then, while you’re revising and editing, let yourself start looking beyond the plot and into the heart of the story itself. Trust me, even if you’re not sure you’ll find answers there, somewhere in the revision process you will. They will find you, and most times you’ll realize that’s what you wanted to say all along.

And if it’s not.… change it! It’s your book.

Happy writing!

Questions To Ask Your Beta Readers

Hey everybody! Sorry for my brief disappearance; it has been a crazy week and a half. I was back in my hometown over the weekend to do a performance with alumni from my high school, and then I ended up back at school for a hellish three test week. I didn’t realize how difficult it would be to balance five classes. I want to dedicate enough attention to each one, but I definitely feel a little behind. But now I’m back to blog posts! Today, I want to cover some questions that you may want to ask your beta readers when you give them your book.

Beta readers are a crucial component of the writing process because they offer insights into what is working and what isn’t from an outsider’s perspective. You can only read your own book so many times before you become blind to its faults. But in order to figure those out, you need to know what questions are best to ask! So, I’m going to lay out a list of good questions below for you to pick and choose what you really want to know about your story. Feel free to take all of them or select the ones that fit your concerns about your story the best!

Story

  1. Did my story hold your interest throughout the book?
  2. How long did it take you to get hooked into the story?
  3. Was there any point where you felt like the story stalled?
  4. Did you notice any plot inconsistencies that need to be addressed?
  5. Did the dialogue sound natural to you?
  6. Was there enough conflict and intrigue to hold your interest? Are there places would you have liked to see more?
  7. What were your favorite scenes or chapters? Did any section jump at you specifically?
  8. Are the plot twists both believable and unexpected?
  9. How did you feel about the ending?
  10. Do you think the writing style fits the genre?
  11. How was the novel’s pacing?
  12. Was there any point that you put the manuscript down?

Characters

  1. Can you relate to the main character? Do they seem believable? Are you able to see both strengths and weaknesses that make them a well rounded person?
  2. Were there characters that needed to be fleshed out more?
  3. What was your opinion on the villain?
  4. Are the relationships between characters believable?
  5. How do you feel about the main character’s goals? Are they working towards those goals in clear ways throughout the book?

Worldbuilding

  1. Does the world interest you? Does it excite you?
  2. How were my descriptions? Would you like to see more or less of them? Do they need to be more detailed?
  3. Which setting was most memorable to you?

I hope these questions will be useful to all of you tackling this stage in the writing process. Enjoy! Happy writing!

How To Plan Out A Series

One of the most popular ways to write fantasy is through a series. Readers enjoy series because it offers them a chance to stick with the same characters over an extended period of time. They get to watch them evolve through a series of events and become very attached to their survival and happiness. Series keep us on edge every moment, waiting for the next book to come out or waiting for the final conclusion. If you’re thinking about writing a series of your own, here are a few tips to help you out.

Step One: Map Out Your Plot

One of the most important things about writing a great series is making sure that your story can be carried over several books. Now if you’re just starting out with an idea, it can seem like a lot to think about right off the bat. But if you’re looking to plan a series, I imagine you have at least some basic idea of what major events happen when. Use those to understand whether you’ve got enough story.

Think about how many books you want to write. There’s no magic number (although three is quite popular); each story idea is unique. Remember, each book needs to have its own plot arc: a clear purpose that is worked towards over the course of the novel definitively fulfilled at the end. Then on top of that, each book needs to contribute to the overall series arc. The series arc itself also has its own purpose that must be worked towards at each stage. If you can see all of these main elements, congratulations! Your idea has enough substance to write a series.

Step Two: Get To Know Your Characters

I talk all the time about getting to know your characters on an intimate level. I’ve suggested creating character profiles and conducting an in depth interview with your character. When writing a series, this is especially crucial.

Over the course of your books, you’re going to be playing around with multiple important characters and multiple big character arcs. Outside of your main character, several secondary characters are going to have significant arcs that will influence the story. In each book, your main character will go through a change. You have to clearly see that change each time you pick up the next book and introduce a new change that will begin to play out. Your secondary characters will evolve over the course of the series, and each book doesn’t have to have a specific change for them.

In order to accomplish this, you need to absorb your characters’ personalities, motivations, and goals. You need to know them better than you know yourself. Using the tools I’ve linked above will assist you.

Step Three: Consider your world.

Your worldbuilding will need to be detailed enough for your readers to learn new places and new details each time they pick up an installment. Think about the Harry Potter universe and how expansive it is, how J.K. Rowling introduced us to new places and magical aspects every time we picked up one of her books. Take the time to ask questions about your world and dive deep into everything from geography down to individual family life. Your magic system will also need to be built to last as it will be a crucial backbone as your characters move throughout your fantastical universe. Dream as big as you want.

Are you ready to start? Happy writing!