Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Overlapping Series

If you missed the post on my author blog on Monday, it was about how I got into writing a series. When I first began working on THE LADY'S MASQUERADE, it was suposed to be a simple love story between Penny and Will. As the story progressed, other characters naturally evolved and because they were Will's friends, I found myself with three other single male characters who had to find brides but didn't want to. Hence, The Reluctant Grooms Series was born.

However, because I'm a pantster, I began writing these books without rhyme or reason, doing the research into the era as I went along. The stories were supposed to be in succession, each man finding his bride a year after the other. At one point, however, I hit a giant snag. One of my characters had to be in London for the Parliamental session. I dove into my research and found, Parliament wasn't in session for that month. Nor, for the remainder of the year in fact.

I had three books begun, each with about 40K words each. And now, each of the these stories wouldn't work. I'm a stickler for accuracy in my facts, (I hate it when reading an historical and there's a mistake.) I didn't know what to do. I couldn't throw away all these books and start over. I needed to find a way to make them work.

And so I decided to make them wrap-around each other, or overlap, if you will. For those of you who remember THE LADY'S MASQUERADE, this is the story which began it all. We have William, Robert, Richard, and Ellis.


March 1810 -- September 1810.

William requires help finding out who is after Penny. Robert and Richard play significant roles. Ellis has two small scenes.


May 1810 -- June 1811

Robert plays a significant role for Ellis in helping him aquire the hand of Violet.


September 1810 -- February 1811

Robert and William help Richard fight for Amanda.


March 1811 -- July 1811

Ellis and William seem to be able to help Robert with his bride Fiona.


May 1811 -- October 1811

I haven't quite figured out this story yet. Rory is still new to me. But he still overlaps with the others somewhat.

Now, writing the stories this way solved several problems at once; allowed me to combine characters and storylines from one book into another, kept me from having to do uncessary research (and therefore allowed me to write more), and kept all the characters fresh in my mind. They're all friends and friends lives do tend to overlap

However, the biggest drawback to writing a series in this way is keeping all the characters where they're supposed to be in all the other books. For example, at one point in THE LADY'S FATE, Violet is waiting to hear from Ellis. He explains, he was in Trilling for the nuptials of his brother William. Because in THE LADY'S MASQUERADE, Ellis does indeed show up for the wedding. In THE CAPTAIN'S LADY, Robert needs to be single as the villain mistakenly identifies him as his wife's new lover, and William needs to be married, because Penny and Amanda both need to be pregnant at the same time. And somewhere in THE EARL'S ENIGMA, all the characters from all the books need to be at the Prince Regent's grand party in June of 1811.

Yes, I have a lot of notes.

But I'm loving the way it's turning out.

Tell me -- Do you read series novels? Do they overlap or are they progressive?

Stay tuned next week when I discuss overlapping characters... especially these two.


Linda G. said...

I think you need to dedicate a wall to a big timeline, so you can keep track of who is where when. *grin*

Anne Gallagher said...

Linda -- Funny you should say that. I've got a 4 foot cork board that is stuffed full of the timeline, notes, characters, you name it.

Em-Musing said...

I do read series. They've always been progressive. LOve the covers by the way. I'm actually writing a series, but thankfully, the characters are mostly the same.

~Nicole Ducleroir~ said...

I've never read a series, but your books sound so interesting! I love the evolution of your projects -- and I can't imagine how much fun it is as all the pieces to your giant puzzle slip into place.

I can relate, because in my current WiP I reached a point where I needed to stop everything and plot out the timeline of the story. I have a present day storyline driving the plot, but I alternate chapters where I go back in time. Characters who are dead and gone in the front story are the narrators and stars of those chapters. Essentially, both time periods weave together to build reader pathos for all the characters, particularly the real mean ones. *grin*

Good luck with all your projects, Anne!!

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I've never read an overlapping series before. All the ones I've read are in progression. Writing an overlapping one would be challenging.

And now you see the appeal of writing fantasy for some writers. You can make things up . . . unless the story is rooted in history.

Anne Gallagher said...

Em -- Thanks. Characters are next weeks target.

Nicole -- When all is written, if I combined all the books together to form one giant manuscript it would be a saga, I guess you would call it. I love what you're doing. Sounds like a lot of fun.

Stina -- Overlapping is challenging. And I have the plots to make up. I like having facts (somewhat) to keep me on an even keel.

DL Hammons said...

Never read a series before, and I'm not sure if I would enjoy it. I prefer the books that utilize many of the same characters, but each one is a new story/plot. Even when I read those I do it when I have large chunks of time available so I don't have to drag it out too long. But I can definitely see the challenge your facing in writing a series.

Carol Kilgore said...

I do read some series - all progressive. I'm getting ready to start my first series. I think it will be progressive, and I have a good plot and timeline. When I start writing, we'll see what the characters have to say - LOL.

Anne Gallagher said...

DL -- Each of mine is a new story/plot although the theme remains the same. I'm a romance writer after all. You should try a series sometime. You might like it.

Carol -- I like progressive myself, but I just couldn't make it work. Yeah, isn't it funny, it's all about the characters.

Bossy Betty said...

Love a fellow pantser! I tried a series of short stories with overlapping characters and had such fun with it and yes, it does fill up the brain!!!

Talli Roland said...

I think writing is series is a great idea, especially for ebooks. They seem to work really well to drive sales. And they're fun to write!

Talli Roland said...

Oops - writing 'a' series. I can't type.

Nicki Elson said...

Lady Olivia! Hoooraaaay!!!! Even with as little as we saw of Penny and Will in The Lady's Fate, they stick with me as one of those couple's that's just, well, a perfect match. Excited to learn how they came together.

Stacy McKitrick said...

One 3-book series I read were all during the same period - each sister with her own story/romance. I ended up reading them out of order, but it didn't seem to matter. However, most of the series I read are progressive.

My series have a kind of over-lapping time-line, too, but really don't affect one another. More like made of the same world with previous main characters showing up as secondary ones. It's fun doing it that way, because I already know the characters so well.

Liza said...

I think I said on your other site...I love the whole idea of this!

Anne Gallagher said...

Betty -- Isn't it fun. I just love doing this.

Talli -- If I had the time I need, I would be able to finish the next two. Just need to make it I suppose.

Nicki -- I don't think you'll be disappointed with Penny and Will's story. Lots of intrigue.

Stacy -- I love having main characters from one book show up as secondary in another. It's like reading about old friends.

Liza -- Thanks. Yes, you did.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I know someone who wrote books like that - Diane Wolfe. But otherwise, I've not read many that overlapped. Most were in succession. I bet you did an awesome job with the details though!

Roland D. Yeomans said...

I thought I was the only one to write a series like that. Well, me and Stephen King. It is fun though, isn't it?

I have two historical fantasies where I bring my undead cast of characters together in Then, in my Victor Standish two YA urban fantasies, they interact with him in a KIM/HARRY POTTER sort of way.

Then, my other novels have them as secondary characters where the secondary characters in those 6 come front and center.

Alex is right : I bet you did wonderfully with the details dove-tailing, Roland

Roland D. Yeomans said...

Oops. My finger voided a part of one sentence. I went from 1853 to 2005 to historical fantasy to urban fantasy, detailing how changed my cast were from the 150 years of adventuring together.

It is fun, Roland

Anne Gallagher said...

Alex -- Well, so far they're coming out okay. We'll have to see when they're finished.

Roland -- I was thinking of you as I wrote this piece. I know you had all these characters overlapping. It is fun.

Melody said...

I commend you, Anne! Goodness, I have so much trouble keeping track of a linear story. What day, what week, where was he when she was doing this...just within one book. I can't imagine multiple books. You rock! :)

Sarah Ahiers (Falen) said...

See, this right here is why i write fantasy. Parliament not in session that year? Now it is! Also, it's run by a dragon. Or maybe some ghosts or something. I don't know, i haven't gotten that far in my brainstorming yet.

Anne Gallagher said...

Melody -- It's not that hard to keep track, just have a pack of sticky notes on hand.

Sarah -- I just spit soda from my nose. A dragon running Parliament! That I will so want to read.

Amie Borst said...

never read overlapping series...and i honestly prefer companion novels to sequels.

looks like you've found a method that's working for you, though, to sort through all your characters and facts. i like to use a timeline and storyweb when i'm not being a panster! ;)

Anne Gallagher said...

Amie -- I don't write sequels. All the books just kind of mesh together. And my timelines are 5 pages long all taped together hanging from the top of my window.

Donna Hole said...

I prefer series reading - mostly in fantsy :) Most of what I've read is progressive, but I've read a few that were concurrent. Pierce Anthony's Xanth has a lot of simultaneous story lines, and so Anne Rice vampire series. Oh, and Anne McCaffery's Dragon Riders of Pern . .

I could go on. I haven't tried it myself - haven't written that many books, but if I did, I know there would be lots and lots of notes. By the time I finished my women's fic trilogy I had copious notes to keep major events and vital statistics consistent. And that was a progressive story. I admire anyone who can keep multiple books consistent. Takes a lot of diligence and organizational skills.

Good Luck Anne :)