I never intended writing a series, let alone a crime one, yet here I am writing my third, with a fourth in the pipeline. It came about by accident, a chance pitch to my editor – a psychological thriller snuck in between pitches for two more comedies. My editor loved it, decided the main characters were worthy of developing, so I was given a contract for three books, which later extended to five, and DI Robyn Carter changed my fortunes.
Last week, I submitted the third in the DI Kate Young series, a series that is twisty and dark and has a fascinating arc running through it. I’m not sure at this stage if there will be a fourth or fifth book, but I have left myself a back door so the story can be continued if my editor likes the idea.
I often get asked if it’s difficult to write a series and the answer today is no. (If you’d asked me the same question in 2016 it would have been an emphatic yes.) However, should you decide to write one, you will require preparation – a ridiculous amount of it and consistency. You’ll need to know your characters inside out, especially those who will appear in each book, and you must continue their personal stories, weaving them in between each storyline and… you need a theme, one that permeates each book and links them all. It must be something that hooks your readers, so they will want to read the next book, maybe another overriding storyline or simply reader investment in each of your main characters.
I have notebooks and manilla files on every character, including their birthdates, hobbies, likes and dislikes, ways they pronounce certain words, hair colour, backgrounds that may never be revealed, as if each is a living human. After all, I can’t afford for one of them to have blue eyes in one book and hazel in another, or suddenly forget they have a limp, or a pet dog or are vegan and tuck into a chicken dinner in book 5. By building up profiles, they become more real to me and in turn to my readers.
Each storyline has to be written out in summary before I begin and accompanying each pitch, I must write out the overriding arc theme – a double pitch.
For all the effort it takes, the rewards are huge. When you come to the end of a book and say goodbye to the characters, you feel bereft. Writing a series, you get to spend longer with them, really form bonds or, in my case, listen to them night after night, telling me how a script should be written or changed. Yes, it is horrible when you finally come to the end and you feel you are losing a best friend or several, but you have journeyed with these characters, lived through their highs and lows and now they’ve completed their journeys and it is time to say goodbye.
A writer invests heavily in their characters and to most of us they are real individuals. Parting is difficult and I am still tempted to bring back some of those characters I have loved the most. Time will dictate what happens next. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy meeting them all as much as I have enjoyed creating and living with them.
Oh, and by the way, if you have never met DI Robyn Carter, the first in the series LITTLE GIRL LOST is currently on a Kindle Deal and you can buy it for only 99p. Click HERE to grab or gift your copy.
Carol Wyer is author of the DI Robyn Carter, DI Natalie Ward and DI Kate Young #1 bestselling novels