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Writing and Publishing

How to Plan Intersecting Series

If you’re planning several series that take place in the same world, there are three considerations.

Standalone Series: If one series won’t intersect with the other but shares the same world, then you can outline each series separately as if each were a standalone series. This process is straightforward.

Intersecting Series: If the series will intersect, start with a simple series outline for each series. Factor into it the characters and the timeline. 

Since I assume you won’t work in more than one series at the same time—from a marketing standpoint, I’d advise against it—the next step is to make a book outline for each book in the first series. Again, note the characters in each book and the timeline. 

As you deviate from your outline when you write, update your outline with this new information. This step is critical because you’ll need these details for consistency and continuity when you write the other series. Document everything. Don’t trust your memory.

Also, will the same characters appear in multiple series? This is a delightful occurrence for readers, but it’s a perplexing dilemma for creators because it requires detailed planning and attention to detail. 

Document the personality, description, and backstory for each of your characters. Each character will also need a timeline, so they don’t appear in different places at the same time in different series. For example, we shouldn’t have a person stranded on an island in a book from series one and on a yacht circumventing the world at the same time in another series. Don’t depend on your memory to recall these details, which you might not need for several years as you move from one series to the next.

Multiple Authors: If different authors will write in different series, then you need to provide each author with the initial details about the world. This information will help each series stay consistent with the other ones. And if a writer adds a detail to the world that no one has yet defined, then you need a way to share this detail with the other writers. 

For example, let’s say the original information about the world contains no mention of it having a moon. If one writer needs the planet to have a moon, make sure the other writers are aware of it. This effort will keep a third writer from talking about the planet having twin moons or no moons, which will frustrate readers who read both series.

This undertaking can get confusing fast and is hard to manage—even more so when multiple authors are involved. Documentation and communication are key.

Summary: Regardless of whether you’re writing all the series yourself or involving other writers, pursue two intents: the first is the need for detailed planning and the second is careful and up-to-date documentation. And if multiple writers are involved, you need a way to communicate this information to everyone. Writing multiple series in the same world is a grand undertaking with the potential for great rewards.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of PublishingGet your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

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Writing and Publishing

How to Outline a Book Series

Just as you would outline a book, you can also outline a series. 

Consider your series outline as listing the main objective you want to accomplish for each book. Just as each book will have an arc, your series will also have one. Your series outline should reflect the series arc. 

Your series outline can be as simple as a bullet point for each book. That’s what I start with. Or you can add more substance to it, but I suggest you save additional details for the book outline, which you will need for each book in the series. 

Outlining a series is fun, and I recommend it. Knowing a series arc, through its outline, can inform your writing of each book in the series. 

For example, if you know your primary character for book three, make a subtle introduction in book one. This restrained reveal will delight your readers when they re-encounter that person two books later. Or if book eight has a plot development you worry may seem a bit contrived, with shrewd finesse lay the groundwork for it in books two, five, and seven. This unexpected development in book eight will still surprise your readers, but they won’t feel you forced it because you prepared them for it in earlier books.

Keep in mind that if you’re a discovery writer you can’t insert any delicious titbits into earlier books—unless they’re not yet published. But with a series outline to guide your writing, you can foreshadow what is to come in future books. 

In addition, having a series outline will keep you from wasting time writing passages you will later cut. And your plan will help make your books richer because readers can connect with your writing and characters more fully.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of PublishingGet your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

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Writing and Publishing

8 Tips to Improve as a Writer

Here are the actions I pursue to improve as a writer: 

  1. Write regularly.
  2. Read a lot (I struggle the most with this tip).
  3. Study writing.
  4. Listen to writers and publishing podcasts. 
  5. Follow writing blogs.
  6. Participate in writers’ groups.
  7. Attend writing conferences.
  8. But the most important tip is to write.

These tips helped my writing improve. May they do the same for you.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of PublishingGet your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

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Writing and Publishing

Writers Need to Find Time to Read

Finding time to read, however, is a constant struggle. As with making time to write, we need to make time to read.

For me, the decision often comes down to watching TV or reading. Sometimes TV wins and other times reading wins. Often, the choice I make hinges on how good the book is versus how much a show or movie calls me.

I strive to keep my TV watch list short and my book list interesting. I also give myself the freedom to stop reading any book that bores me or turns me off. If I didn’t allow myself this option, the TV would grab my attention most of the time.

The point is, we all have some degree of discretionary time, whether it’s TV, movies, social media, going out, leisure activities, or even a nap. We can choose to do these alternate pursuits or to read. For me, I’ve cut back on TV to read more—and I’m glad I did.

However, some writers, including myself, feel that watching TV and, even more so, movies helps us learn about plot, character development, and good (or bad) storytelling.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of PublishingGet your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

Categories
Writing and Publishing

The Benefits of Using Dictation Software to Write

I’m a huge fan of dictation and use it for all my writing, not only my first draft but even as I edit. Using dictation, I can write about two thousand words an hour—compared to about five hundred words typing. My dictated words come out in pretty good shape, about 90 percent of the way there. 

Although some people claim five thousand words an hour from dictation, I’m not one of them. Yes, I talk fast and could dictate ten to fifteen thousand words per hour, but those words would require so much editing to make them worthless. Therefore, I slow down, think about what I want to say, and say it. I’m pleased with the results and the speed.

I pursued dictation for two reasons. One was to write faster. The other was to protect my aching wrists. Despite doing the recommended exercises and taking frequent breaks, my wrist often throbbed after writing several hours a day, day after day.

Thanks to dictation, my wrists don’t hurt anymore, but now I need to protect my voice. Drink lots of water when dictating. Avoid carbonated beverages, milk, and coffee.

By the way, I’m a poor candidate for dictation. First, you should dictate in complete sentences, but I don’t. Most of the time, I don’t know how a sentence will end when I frame the beginning in my mind. Therefore, my dictation gushes out as a disjointed hodgepodge of sentence fragments and phrases. 

Second, I don’t enunciate well. And I often pronounce the same word in two ways. This trait makes it hard for the dictation software and requires a critical eye to catch errors, which are sometimes comical, albeit infuriating. As a result, my dictated work needs a bit more editing. Though my overall production speed using dictation isn’t four times faster, it’s certainly more than three times as much.

For full disclosure, using dictation has had unexpected side effects. It has resulted in a slowdown of my typing speed and has been a further hit to my spelling challenges. Still, dictation stands as a more-than-equitable trade-off, more than tripling my production speed, while avoiding carpal tunnel surgery.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of PublishingGet your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.