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!

Creating Subplots

A great fantasy story must always incorporate more than just a main plotline. Smaller stories and adventures should be included to give more insight into the characters and build up to the climax of the main story. Subplots tend to show progress and growth in a character without necessarily being part of their main journey or goal. These subplots can focus on the main character and their secondary goals or a secondary character and their own storyline. All subplots should relate back to the main plot and intersect the story in some way. That could mean relating back to the main themes or showing progress in the characters that are essential to the main journey.

Types of Subplots

There is a wide variety of subplots to choose from when looking at your own novel. Here are a few useful ones to recognize:

  • One of the most common and most recognizable subplots are romantic subplots. The main character falls in love with a secondary character who in turn reveals a lot of intimate information about the former character’s motivations, dreams, and personality traits. Romantic subplots are often the easiest to incorporate into most genres; with fantasy, they tend to walk hand in hand.
  • Another solid subplot idea for fantasy is something brewing in the political world. My own book explores this in the way of political tension, subverting alliances, and the constant presence of impending war. This subplot is often a great way to bring in detailed worldbuilding and historical background into your story.
  • It is always a great idea to show conflict between main and secondary characters. This can include a conflict with a villain that perhaps exists on the fringes of your main plot or an argument with a friend or lover that changes the main character’s course. These subplots add depth to your characters and often can have a transformative effect on a character’s psyche.
  • Anything that showcases a character’s strengths, flaws, and motivations can be incorporated into the story as a subplot. You’re not limited to the types of ideas I’ve listed above.

A Tip On Identifying and Incorporating Subplots

When I finished the first draft of Chasing Fae, one of things I did was take several sheets of paper and draw out several large arcs. I then went through my book and labeled each event of the main plot on one arc. On the next few, I took some time to pick out the events in my novel that didn’t connect directly to the main storyline. Those, I then was able to sort and begin to create some subplot arcs. Wherever I saw gaps, I made notes on what to write to fill them in to make my subplots complete. The final arc I used to create a character arc so I could definitively see how Grace changed and grew over the course of the entire novel. If there wasn’t a logical jump between one point and another, I created a new event to add in my second draft and create a new subplot off of that.

I would highly recommend this method if you’re having trouble identifying what kind of subplots you want to incorporate or what subplots you already have brewing. It also serves as a great tool to break your story down and really gain a deep understanding of your characters and your plot.

I hope this has been helpful. Happy writing!

An Interview With Aiden

A rendition of Aiden.

What is your full name? – My name is Aiden Faolan Çaelic.

Where do you call home now? – Now, I’m a bit more of a wanderer. I’m with the House of the Sun’s military. I’m stationed currently in Shadowshore, a mining town in the House of the Day.

Do you have a lifelong dream or aspiration? – I’d like to find… I don’t know.. Some sort of meaning in life. Something to strive for. Something to live for. I want adventure in my life. I joined the military to find it, but I haven’t found it yet.

How would you describe your personality? – I’m… *smiles coyly* a bit of a flirt. You can ask around; anyone will tell you so. It’s healthy to explore the more… sensual sides of your personality. I’m straightforward with people. What you see is what you get. I’m not ashamed of who I am. I am loud and proud, and I like to showcase that. But don’t think I’m some airhead. I’ve got a strong head on my shoulders, and my magical abilities are nothing to chuckle at.

Describe a normal day for you. – Let’s see… I normally wake up alone or with my latest find if it’s a weekend at whatever lodging the troop has stopped at for the night. I like to cuddle after sex; I would rather have my women stay the night. Now, I can be an early riser during the week, mainly due to mandatory obligations to the military. If it’s a weekend, you better believe I’m sleeping in. During the week, it’s training exercises and patrols and the like. I try to search for a little adventure or some skirt to chase. I usually save that for the evening though. Nights are for prowling, throwing back a couple beers with some friends, and just generally having a good time.

How close are you to your family? – In general, I’m pretty close to my family. My mother and I are the closest. She’s always been there for me, always helped me through any and every situation. My father and I have a little bit more of a cordial relationship than a clearly loving one. But we respect each other. My brother and I aren’t really close though.

What are your reasons for being an adventurer? – I’m an adventurer for reasons that are fairly simple. I want to find something in my life worth fighting for. And I’ll face every challenge, climb every mountain, and chase every storm until I find it.

What do you believe makes a successful life? – Freedom to be who you are. To live out a life that’s exciting to you, no matter in what way that is. Enough money to live comfortably and a family to share it with. Life is short. You have to live it to the fullest. Or else, what’s the point?

Character Development Exercise

Hello everybody! Hope everyone is doing well this week. I’m gearing up for the end of my freshman year, running headfirst into three written exams, two final papers, one final presentation (which luckily is already out of the way as of yesterday), and one final performance for my theater class. Wish me luck. I’m definitely going to need it.

Today, I want to talk about character development. I wrote a previous post a couple months ago about creating character profiles (linked here), and I still believe in the effectiveness of this into getting to know a lot about your characters. However, I want to introduce a new exercise that I have found to be even more effective.

This past week, I’ve been focused on fleshing out character development. In my novel, I had relatively strong characters, but their development was choppy and disjointed. More needed to be seen from them in order to make the story feel whole. After a lot of thought, I revisited working on my characters individually.

The Exercise

I discovered this tool while searching for character development exercises online. After working through the questions for a few days, I can speak for its effectiveness.

This link leads to a blog post from 2010 by the creator of the blog, Labotomy of a Writer, Anastasia V. Pergakis. It contains an incredibly detailed character questionnaire that reads like an interview. Working through these questions allows you to answer questions in your character’s voice and allow your character to take full shape.

I have learned more about my main character in the last few days than I could have imagined. I have found three new stories of her past to explore in various places in the book, stories that blend in seamlessly. Suddenly, my fingers would be on autopilot, pulling new ideas out of thin air. I feel like a new writer again.

I highly recommend giving this post a look. I feel like it gets deep into both a character’s personality and their motivations and goals, which as we know is very important to the progression of your story. Happy writing!

Making Character Profiles

As requested by my followers, today, I want to focus on creating strong characters that can carry your fantasy story.

Now in terms of what is more important, plot or characters, I have an equivocal opinion.

They are both equally important.

Let me tell you why. Your characters are the ones who are going to drive the story. Their decisions, their thought processes, and their emotions will influence every tiny detail of your plot. More than often than not, your characters will also change the direction of your story entirely, leading you to create new plot points that you may never have thought of before.

When I am creating my main characters, I want them to be as complete as possible. I want to know exactly what they look like, where they come from, and their strengths and weaknesses. Because of this, I rely on this pdf tool from EpiGuide that I discovered around age 13.

The link above will send you to a full length character questionnaire/profile with a fairly comprehensive set of questions geared toward authors looking to get deep inside their character’s heads. Now, when you first open the document, you may think it is insanely long. And truth be told, it is. It takes me a few hours to come up with responses and fill things out. However, when I’m finished, I feel like I have a much better understanding of my characters, and my writing always improves by incorporating little details from this profile.

So. What kind of information are you going to create through this character profile?

  1. Basic information: Name, nicknames, birthday, hometown, basic information about their home, job, and relationships (if applicable)
  2. Physical appearance: very detailed questions about physical features as well as the character’s general style (what type of clothes they wear and any prominent accessories
  3. Speech and Language/Communication: This section is one of my favorites; it’s really interesting and something you wouldn’t normally think about. These questions focused on the way your character communicate. Do they have an accent? Any words or phrases that they traditionally use? What about body language?
  4. Everyday Behavior/Habits: This section is going to include things like what a typical day for your character looks like, any personal habits that they may subscribe to, as well as their skills and hobbies.
  5. Family of Origin: basic information about the character’s family and their relationship to their family.
  6. The Past: Past events and memories that have shaped the way the character is today.
  7. Relationships to Others: This section is very important. Not only do the questions help you discover how your character relates to people they know, but also people in places of authority, strangers, people less fortunate, etc. It also includes questions about how other people view your character: what their reputation is to the outside world.
  8. Mental Attitude and Personal Beliefs: These questions go deep into a character’s personal values, fears, and mental outlook on life. It also helps to identify a character’s core strengths and weaknesses. A personal favorite section of mine, I think this is the most important of the entire questionnaire.
  9. Likes/Favorites: A fun set of identification questions to round out your character’s favorite things.

Now, this is a lot of information to take in. But I would like to point it that this is not mandatory, nor the end-all be-all of character design. It is a tool to help you create and think about what are going to be the driving forces behind your characters that will move the plot forward. Personally, I utilize these solely for my main set of characters: my main character, love interest (if applicable), and important secondary characters who have a constant presence (and even for these, I don’t necessarily answer every question).

What I hope for my readers is that this tool that I am sharing with you will inspire you to dig deeper when creating your characters, help to identify areas you may not have considered during character design, and will help you on your journey to writing a fantastic piece of fantasy literature.

Music as Inspiration

Hello everybody! I got inspired to write a post on music from my boyfriend, Daniel, and some discussions I had on Twitter yesterday with people interested in finding what music inspired people to write.

Music has always inspired me to create. I like picking out crescendos and dips in the music in which the most important moments of a scene lies. Nine times out of ten, I will have music on when I’m writing. It helps me to focus. I created a long playlist for my series that inspire different scenes, different moods, and different environments, and it’s always helped put me in the mood.

I would like to offer a good number of suggested songs for the fantasy genre in particular to help inspire you to create something amazing. I’ve sorted everything below by the type of scene or interaction or character I envision the song representing. I hope you all enjoy my choices and interpretations!

Note: All of these song selections have come from my playlist for my series. Feel free to comment on your opinions of these songs or offer a suggestion to add to the list!

Strong Willed Characters

  • Whatever It Takes by Imagine Dragons
  • Bird Set Free by Sia
  • Unstoppable by Sia
  • Rise Up by Andra Day
  • Something Wild (Acoustic) by Lindsey Stirling
  • Magnetic by Jessie J
  • Yellow Flicker Beat by Lorde
  • Minimal Beat by Lindsey Stirling
  • Moments by Tove Lo

Sad Scenes That Require Your Character to Reflect and Pull Themselves Up By the Bootstraps

  • Some Nights by fun.
  • Goodnight Goodnight by Maroon 5
  • Trade Mistakes by Panic! at the Disco
  • This is Gospel by Panic! at the Disco
  • Don’t You Worry Child by Swedish House Mafia

Breakups

  • Molly (feat. Brendon Urie of Panic! at the Disco) by Lil Dicky

Relationship Tension

  • Irresistible by Fall Out Boy
  • Anything Could Happen by Ellie Goulding
  • Something Better by Audien, Lady Antebellum
  • Infinity by One Direction
  • Love’s Just a Feeling (feat. Rooty) by Lindsey Stirling
  • If I Lose Myself by OneRepublic
  • Alone Together by Fall Out Boy
  • Night Changes by One Direction
  • Coming Back For You by Maroon 5

Passionate Relationships

  • The Last of the Real Ones by Fall Out Boy
  • Good Thing by Sage The Gemini, Nick Jonas

Sexual Tension/Release

  • PILLOWTALK by Zayn

Those “Prove Yourself” Moments

  • The Arena by Lindsey Stirling
  • Immortals by Fall Out Boy
  • Centuries by Fall Out Boy
  • My Song Knows What You Did In The Dark by Fall Out Boy
  • The Phoenix by Fall Out Boy
  • Viva La Vida by Coldplay
  • Just One Yesterday by Fall Out Boy, Foxes
  • No Place Like Home by Todrick Hall

Happy Ending Scene After A Long Struggle

  • Straight Into the Fire by Zedd

Underestimated Characters That Are Destined to Succeed

  • Castle by Halsey

Delicious Villains (very specific type of villain)

  • Bartholomew by The Silent Comedy

Anthems to Character Pairings (can apply to relationships or friendships)

  • Homemade Dynamite (feat. Khalid, Post Malone, and SZA) – REMIX by Lorde
  • Creatures Of The Night by Hardwell, Austin Mahone

Fight Scenes

  • Say Amen (Saturday Night) by Panic! at the Disco