Sunday, October 24, 2010

Selecting Your Series Time Period

I had to ask the question, what are today's CBA publishers looking for in a novel series?
  • They want three books that can stand on their own, that conclude with all the plot threads wrapped up.
  • A trilogy with some thread that ties them together.
  • Heroines as the main characters.
  • Romance, and with historicals the facts, as one editor put it, as 'window dressing' to the story.

With that in mind, the deepest question to ask is, 'How do I tie these stories together?' I think it is evident in all our lives, that the lives of others have influenced us. Knowing this, I have created three heroines that have made decisions that ultimately effect the lives of the others.

There are other writers following the same vein. Marylu Tyndall is an excellent example in her 'Charles Towne Belles Series', three novels, three sisters. Each novel can stand on its own, but the reader is given the chance to follow each sister, each making an appearance in each book, and see how the decisions one makes effect the other two. It's a fascinating concept, although it is challenging to write.

My advice to those of you who are not yet published, or you have only published one or two novels, try your hand at creating a novel series. How?

Determine what time period you want these stories to take place in. Do not write in a time period you do not like. I for example you may not a fan of ancient history. So do not write a story that takes place in ancient Rome. You will regret you ever started. You must love the period you are writing in, in order to love writing it, love the storyline, and connect with your characters.

You do not have to be a historian to make this decision. Simply ask yourself the following.

  • What time in history fascinates you?
  • What time in history do you like in the novels you read?
  • What are some of the more popular times readers seem to prefer? Go to Amazon and browse the historicals.
  • What time periods are publishers most interested in? Go to their websites and check out there list of novels they are promoting.
One way to narrow this down, and to gather some interesting historical facts to 'window dress' you novel is website that have time lines. Here's a good one.

This site has both BC and AD years. Click on a year and they will give you a calendar of events that took place that year.

Are you considering a novel series?
What do you find the most challenging about writing a series?


Jessica Nelson said...

Now to get them to want contemporary series! LOL

I fell in love with secondary characters in my first contemporary romance, which is how I ended up giving them each their own romance. :-)

Thanks for the industry info!

Rita Gerlach said...

Write a great proposal for a contemporary novel series, Jessica, and send out queries to agents.

There are publishers out there that are contracting contemporary series.

Some writers who have published contemporary series, just to name a few.
Amy Wallace
Roni Kendig
Camy Tang

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Rita -

Thanks for the tips on how to write historicals. I'm going to check out your link.

Susan :)