How to Plan a Series

Moderated again by the wonderful Brendan Reichs. This panel was filled with some big names such as Stephanie Garber who is most famous for her Caraval series. Marie Lu who is famous for her LEGEND series, though I’m currently enjoying her Skyhunter series as well. There was Tochi Onyebuchi is famous for his War Girls duology. Finally we had Garth Nix, a fantasy name whose been working for years and basically has too much work to pick from, but is probably most famous for things like Sabriel.

The panelists were talking about how subconsciously they will know its series even if they don’t know consciously yet.

Onyebuchi talked about how if he still had really cool content that didn’t fit into book one that meant that there needed to be a book two.

Reichs asked them how they kept track of details.

Garber said she kept notes.

Onyebuchi praised the features of Scrivener when when writing characters and linking all character details

And Marie Lu pointed out she never reread her old stuff, which became an issue sometimes when she was writing books related to her universe she created. She also asked the others if they ever had a character who just wouldn’t go away, she pointed out Thomas from Legend as one who was supposed to be a throwaway character.

Garber talked about a character she wrote for book to for the Caraval series who ended up taking over the book, and how she ended up having to pull back and make him a minor character.

Garber asked the other panelists if they ever cheated with their work, ie. brought someone back who should by their universes rules be dead, mess with details a bit?

Lu said she tried to keep it solid eariler in the series but felt like it was okay to mess with it later in the series.

Onyebuchi compared it to Marvel ret-con and didn’t see a problem with it.

Someone I don’t remember who, said to avoid the sagging middle you beat the characters up in the middle.

Lu also said readers expect different things from different books in the series, with the first book, they want a fun fast read, with the 2nd they want more of the characters and more emotional arcs, and with the 3rd they wand a resolution.

Reichs asked about how do you deal with the fanbase hating your ending, the consensus was that you can only make yourself happy. You can’t make all your fans happy no matter what you write and that you can only hate something that you love.

Finally some last advice on writing a series was to put breadcrumbs you can follow if you want to revisit the book, nothing huge the fans would see but enough you can pick up on and link another book off of. Marie Lu also suggested something called an ID pass where you put as many of your favorite tropes that make you happy in the book and do a pass looking to see where you can fit those. The main idea of the panel seemed to be put everything you love into the book or books that you are writing.

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