Monday, 24 March 2014

Writing tips 2

A gentleman by the name of Nicholas Rossis contacted me for help with a series overview for his books, which are No.1 in the Amazon rankings.

Here's what I said. You can get his books at

Think about these points:

Characters Good v. Evil
Drivers (usually emotional)
What happens if they fail.

You have to be fairly functional and matter of fact in a series outline. You lay out exactly what it is as a series.

e.g. The Pearseus series an epic fantasy/sci-fi story told over x number of books.

I've used this because you've kind of described it as such to me already. So use that. Just how would you tell someone about it, as a series if you were having a conversation about it? That's what you should say in your series blurb.

Consider what your theme is, not what the books are about. I say this because each writer, no matter the book, writes about the same theme every time. This is something integral to you as a human being. It's what drives you. Each story you tell is an investigation into your theme, but told differently each time.

For instance, I realised fairly early on in my writing career that the over-arching theme of everything I write is survival, and the things people will do to survive. Sometimes, it's mixed with secrecy - the things we keep secret so that we can survive. It doesn't matter what I write, or what style I write in, or the subject matter, it's always about survival.

Most stories are actually about survival in some form or other. Knowing this makes it easier to formulate an over view.

Also, consider this: you will find lots of references to there being 21 stories, or 30 stories, or 7 stories etc… in the world - and that all stories fall into one of the categories they cite. However, I've found there is actually only one story. Wow! One story, I hear you say, how come all books are so very different? And what is this one story?

Well, that one story is the quest. A quest for true love. A quest for treasure. A quest for a new planet. A quest to capture someone. A quest to win the war. A quest to survive in the face of a storm, or ghost, or enemy. It's always a quest. THE quest.

This being the case you simply look at your series in terms of the quest. What is the theme? What is the quest? Forget individual story arcs etc… just focus on the theme and the quest.

I'd say you're fairly safe with it being about survival and the things people will do in order to survive. Don't forget humans are hot-wired to survive in three ways - as individuals, as families and as species. We fight first as individuals - for ourselves. We fight second for family/tribe/country. We fight third for the species.

So, you have an introduction that tells people what the two books are - a series (with potential for more I assume), and that it is about a bunch of people on a quest to survive against all the odds on a hostile planet. During the duration of their occupancy they come up against various enemies/problems etc… which test their resolve over a long period, giving the reader the opportunity to get involved with the 'world' you have created.

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