Writing a series vs. a novel

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I am finally writing the post I’ve been wanting to write ever since I first started Clara and Claire. For those of you who are planning to write either, I’m hoping this can be helpful. There’s a lot of different ways I thought of tackling this, and mind you I’m going to include a lot of personal experience with this too. I think that’s a big part of writing. There’s no right way of doing something, but everyone’s experience varies.

Let’s face it a series takes a lot of planning. You might not have it all planned out at the beginning of book one. Unless you’re one of those people who have the whole series planned before you begin –to which I say bravo! But you can equally put just as much time into a standalone novel.

A series is a lot like a butterfly effect. If this happens, this will happen in the next book. If this character dies, this character won’t be in the rest of the series. It’s a lot of playing around with different ideas to see how they’ll fit into the puzzle. Because a series is, in a lot of ways, like a puzzle. You have to test the ideas, see how they work, and then if it doesn’t fit with the idea you have for the overall series you start over again.

With the Magicians series there were a lot of times I didn’t decide on the exact nature of the next book until I was finished with the current one. That’s just the way I write. But I constantly reminded myself after this book there would be another and another until the series ended.

There’s some other major points that make a series so different from a standalone novel:

  • Setting -There’s going to be a lot more time you’ll be spending with the setting of your novel. Even if your characters stay in the same place throughout all the books, there’s still a lot of development and thought you’ll need to put into it. You want this to be the world that’s special to your series, that separates it from other books.
  • Character development -Your characters need to be constantly developing throughout the whole series, just like real people do throughout their life. This is where the butterfly effect is huge. If something traumatic happens to your MC, we want to see and feel what effect that has on them. If they make a huge lifestyle change we want to know why and how it changes them afterward.
  • Voice -Maybe the voice changes throughout your series. For example, in my series the narrator changed with each book. So every book there was always a change in the voice because never the same person was telling the story. Even if this isn’t the case for you, your MC is going to be growing and changing throughout the series. What might have been a bitter MC at the beginning could end with a satisfied one.
  • Endings -endings are so important for series. I really can’t stress this enough. You have to end each book in a way to convince your readers to come back for more. Always leave them wanting more, which is easier said than done. My best suggestion for this is to read the endings of your favorite series and see how the author kept you coming back.

As for standalone novels they’re massively different from a series. This is a one time book. Afterwards you want the reader feeling like they’re just read an amazing book and can’t wait to read more from you.

A novel has everything a series has : character development, settings, a great ending, and your MC’s voice. Except all of these things you have to cram into one book. From someone who was used to only writing series, I found this to be the most challenging part. Like huh, how will this all fit into one book? So it’s important to plan and also recognize what’s in your novel’s ending. If at the end you still feel there’s more to tell, that it can’t all be said in one book, then maybe you need to write a sequel. But if you’re aiming for a standalone make sure you have everything wrapped up at the end.

With standalone novels this means you have one chance to impress the readers. By the end they should know whether they love it or hate it. And if you’ve done it right they should be searching your name to find other books by you. This is also a great chance to gain readers who don’t like series or don’t have the time for them.

Every author has their preference just like our readers do. As for me I’m still a sucker for series, but I loved the work I did for Clara and Claire and it has me excited for my next project –which I’ll be announcing after the release. But regardless I think it’s important for us to step away from the things we’re comfortable with and try something new. For me it was a standalone novel. For you it might be that romance novel you’ve been debating on writing. It can be anything, and if you don’t at first succeed keep writing. You can only get better!

Lindsey Richardson

Powered by Indie Month

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Amazon announced that for the entire month of October they’re celebrating “great writing self published” through their self publishing services (Createspace, KDP, ACX). They’re calling it “Powered by Indie,” and they’re encouraging indie authors to talk about their experience, share what they love about being self published, and perhaps most importantly spread the word.

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I’ve self published three books so far and am coming out with a fourth very soon. (Remember Cursed With Power, my first book, was traditionally published.) Shadows and Embers was my first self published book, and ever since then I haven’t looked back, only forward. I love being an indie author. When I realized how I had control over every aspect of my book’s publication from the beginning to the end I couldn’t believe it. It’s one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life. It’s certainly not for everyone, and that’s what makes this month so important. We need to bring more attention to indie authors!

Everything from the book cover, release date, and even down to how the pages look are in the hands of the author when you self publish. I’ve never had the same experience twice, and I always end up learning something new. The indie community is hands down amazing and supportive. These are the people who told me “you have to be willing to stand or fall with your book no matter what,” and that’s when I knew I was ready to make the plunge.

The success I’ve seen other indie authors have is what inspired me and will continue to inspire me for years to come.

Ever single book that I’ve self published (and any book that’s self published) I put the hours and dedication to. Every step of the way I was there, ensuring that the final product was exactly how it should be for my readers. It’s the hardest work I’ve ever done in my life, but if done right, it can also be the most rewarding.

And like with anything in life some days are stressful and other days are like a walk in the park. At the end of the day, I love what I do, and I love being able to go through the process and know exactly when and where my book is releasing.

If nothing else, I hope this month of Amazon sharing indie novels will encourage you to pick one up and check it out. And if you’re an indie author like me I encourage you to tell your readers why you chose this path. Who knows if indie authors will ever be treated the same way as traditionally published authors, but I’m hoping every day we step in the right direction for progress!

A huge shout out to all my readers –because you are the reason why I’m able to continue writing and releasing these books. Thank you so much.

Lindsey Richardson

Find my indie books online:

Shadows and Embers

Thicker Than Blood

Bloodline Inheritance

Cursed With Power 4 year anniversary

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September 7th holds so much importance to me. Every year on this date I wake up and am blown away by the facts in front of me. This is all real, and it’s not just a dream anymore.

Since this is my first time talking about Cursed With Power on this new blog I wanted to talk about journey that brought me to where I am today. Some of you might have heard it before, but there’s always details I left out before, and I’m also talking about the future of my writing. Thank you in advance for reading what might end up being a long post.

The idea for Cursed With Power first came to me in the summer of 2010. This was during a time period where I literally could not find a book idea to stick with. I tried out so many different plots, characters, and none of them lasted. Many ended up on Inkpop (a writing website where you can share your story online for others to read), but in the end none of them last more than a few chapters.

Celestria’s story, though, was different. Right away from the beginning I was determined to write the story. I put aside everything else I had been working on. Those novels didn’t capture me in the way Celestria’s did. I like to refer to CWP as “Celestria’s story” a lot because it really feels like her story. She might not be real, but after all the years I dedicated to her and the story that she narrated, she’s as real as any fictional character can get.

Despite all the praise I give Celestria, she was not always the perfect character. Actually for the longest time when I first started this book she and I did not get along. I could not figure out her character for the longest time. (I think I talked about it sometimes on my old blog…) It was pretty rough for awhile, and I’m not sure at exactly what point I finally figured out her character.

Keep in mind I did all of this while in high school. That all plays a part in this too, because in my senior year (class of 2012!) I enrolled in a G/T independent research class. And my independent research became my book. I researched everything I could about Transylvania –the setting of CWP–in the 1500s. It wasn’t easy, and sometimes even my teacher was at a loss of where we could look. But eventually I found more of the material I was looking for, and it was in this class that I then started rewriting Cursed With Power. This was the major rewrite, though I can’t say if this was the last.

In the very, very early versions of CWP Alaire Sencler was no more than a minor character. Leal Irvine actually ended up having more of a role than Alaire. And during this major rewrite I did it switched. Alaire’s potential became clear to me, and thus he ended up joining Celestria in her journey.

Fast forward through countless rejections. I continued editing and rewriting every time sometime told me “eh, it’s not for me.” It wasn’t until nearing my graduation that I finally received an acceptance letter and learned my book would finally be getting published *insert screams of joy here*. And then it wasn’t until another 9 months that the book was released (due to one last major edit [with the help of my editor] and interior and cover design).

Four years is a long time. So much has changed since I was an 18 year old with my first book published. I’m married now, soon to be moving to an entirely different state, and we have three cats who run around and keep me busy. I work full time and write. My writing career didn’t officially start until Cursed With Power was published, but since then I’ve only set my goals even higher.

I’m 22 now with four books published. My fifth book, Clara and Claire, is something entirely new and separate from the Magicians series, and that’ll be releasing (hopefully) before the end of 2016. Every year since CWP I’ve released a book. And the Magicians series and Clara and Claire are only the beginning. I have so many plans for the future, so many stories I want to write, and I’m going to be sharing every moment of it with you.

Now I know this post was long, but I write a post up every year on this day as a reminder. Dreams don’t always have to be dreams. Follow them and be passionate about what you love. If you take anything away from this, don’t give up.

Thank you to everyone who supports my writing. I’ve been writing since I was 12, and I love that now I have people to share the experience with.

(Reminder, I’ll be posting again later tonight about editing day 2.)

Lindsey Richardson

Haven’t read Cursed With Power or the complete Magicians series? Don’t worry, the entire series is available on Barnes and Noble and Amazon (and everywhere else online where books are sold). Find all my books on my Amazon author page

Reflections 


Last month was huge for me, especially for my series. When I released my books in the Magicians series I didn’t plan out the release dates. It just so happened to turn out that a majority of the self published ones (books 2-4) all came out during the summer. And so last month and this month Timehop has been graciously reminding me of the release parties, cover reveals, and blog tours. All these memories really leave me thinking…

Reflection is such an important thing for an author. For anyone honestly, but especially for writers. Reflecting allows us to take a step back and see where we started and where we are today. It allows us to reevaluate our goals and perhaps also be inspired. 

Over 5 years ago I shared Cursed With Power for the first time online (on Inkpop). I shared it with complete strangers, and I honestly feel I have the writing community to thank for where I am today. The fact that websites like Inkpop and Wattpad led me to reaching my goals in ways I never imagined is heart warming to say the least. It makes me want to hug everyone who ever read the book before it was published. 

July was a reminder of how the Magicians series came to life. Slowly and then all at once. An idea and then four entire novels. A character and then entire lives of characters in the stories. So much happened… And it leaves me wondering even more about what awaits in the future. 

I wanted to take the time to thank everyone who’s been a part of this journey. Whether you joined at the start (since I started writing) or you’re more recent, everyone has made an impact. I’m seriously so thankful for all of you. I love what I do! 

Lindsey Richardson