Writer Maggie Thom, author of The Caspian Wine Series

What Does It Take To Write a Series? (Guest Post)

Today I’m happy to have Maggie Thom back to the blog today! She is the author of The Caspian Wine Series that expertly combines the suspense, thriller, and mystery genres. I recently reread Captured Lies (Book #1) and reviewed it on Goodreads. Today Maggie Thom is telling about what it takes to write a series. We’re in for a treat today! Here is Maggie:

Writing a series truly had never been in my plans but things don’t always go as planned. I love reading series and have read a lot of them. Every time I’d read one, I’d think, ‘wow this is a lot of work’. There is so much information the author has to carry over from one novel to another – characters, setting, situations, relationships, conflicts… The author has to know a lot of details to ensure that the story makes sense and follows some sort of familiar path as the reader goes from book to book.

So what does it take to write a series?

Some things that need to be considered for each additional book in a series:

  • Who the characters are – are they new? Some from previous novels? The author has to know all their details from physical, to emotional, to career, etc. to ensure there is continuity between books (when characters are carried over)
  • What is the story line? Where is book 2 going, does it follow any of book 1 or a whole new plot?
  • How are the characters carrying over into each series?
  • Do you have the same bad guy? Does s/he/it carry over at all?
  • What are the roles of the characters from book one in book 2? book 3? if any?
  • Are the main characters going to be secondary in additional series or stay as the main characters?
  • Where is each book set? a new setting? or the same one? or with some changes?
  • What is the time frame from book 1 to 2 to 3…?
  • How much of the first story is carried over into the second? Third…?
  • What details do you need to include so that the second book… third book… fourth book… is easily understood, even if someone hasn’t read book 1? 2? Or 3?
  • What are the conflicts in each book?
  • What are the problems that get carried forward?
  • How do past events (from previous books) influence current events?

As you can see there are a lot of things to consider when writing a series and a lot of details that the author needs to know from each book. When an author does it right, the reader will feel like they are following the same people, or same town, or same situation. There is a familiarity that the reader is looking for.

It truly is a challenge to do that but I can say it is one that I am glad I stepped up to accept.

Many authors know when they have an idea for a series and they write out a plan for the three, four or five novels they plan to write. They keep the notes they need to make sure they have the information that will be necessary moving forward. Plus, they tend to write the stories one after the other. This is really the ideal way to write a series and makes it somewhat simpler.

I did not use this process. Because I hadn’t planned on writing a series, I didn’t plan out anything beyond book 1, Captured Lies. I actually wrote the original story for Captured Lies, 15+ years ago, so most of my notes were on paper. I hadn’t even typed them into the computer. When I decided to do something with Captured Lies in 2012, I totally rewrote the story and published it. To me that was the end of it.

But no… a reader asked about book 2 and I started exploring where that might go. When I wrote Deceitful Truths, the sequel, I didn’t have what I needed. I had to re-read Captured Lies to take notes and get the information I needed. Writing Deceitful Truths was a bit more challenging because of that. I published Deceitful Truths in 2015. I had done a series. Yay! It was all of two books but I was okay with that. I moved on to writing another suspense/thriller, Deadly Ties. It was not related at all to the Caspian Wine Series.

But then… a reader asked if I was doing book 3. Eek! Ideas started to come to me and Split Seconds was soon in progress. I again had to re-read both novels and take more notes. I now had to decide what would make book 3 compelling and how would it fit the series. I wanted each book to be a standalone, so you wouldn’t have to read each one but I also wanted there to be overlap. I wanted many of the characters in book 1 to be book 2 and book 3 but how to do that?

I was not prepared in any way to write a series, it just took a bit more work. The best part of writing the Caspian Wine Series is that I realized I could do it. And if I’m going to do it in the future, I already take better notes. And I use Scrivener which is amazing for keeping all the information together and making it easier to find everything. So, if another series nudges me, I’m ready.

I’ve already been asked if there is book 4… there are no plans but… I do know I won’t say no.

Writing a series takes a bit more planning, a whole lot more notes and a good imagination to carry it away.

Pre-order Split Seconds today

Split Seconds by Maggie Thom is the third book in The Caspian Wine Series.

The Caspian Wine Series

Captured Lies (get a free copy here)

She was kidnapped not once but twice and now someone wants her dead.

Deceitful Truths

Someone stole a week of her life and is now trying to steal the secret she is now hiding.

Split Seconds – publication date July 20th (available for pre-order)

Twins separated as toddlers, reunited as adults and now switching places in a deadly game to take on organized crime.

Her sister is alive! Excited to discover that her twin didn’t die as a toddler, Tijan can’t wait to meet her other half but she struggles to understand why her only sibling hasn’t reached out in almost thirty years. Although the reunion is joyous, not everyone is excited to discover that there are two of them. Using it to her advantage, Tijan is determined to take down the one man, responsible for it all… her father. The secrets and lies that have kept them apart, soon unravel but with deadly consequences.

Pre-Order Split Seconds and get some amazing bonuses.

Maggie Thom’s Bio

Want to take an adventure beyond your fingertips?

Award winning author, Maggie Thom loves the challenge of creating a web of secrets, lies and deceit. She doesn’t want you to figure it out until the end. Author of The Caspian Wine Suspense/Thriller/Mystery Series – Captured Lies and Deceitful Truths with Split Seconds about to be published – and her other individual novels Tainted Waters (2013 Suspense/Thriller Book of the Year through Turning the Pages Magazine) and Deadly Ties. Take the roller coaster ride. It’s worth it. Get your free copy of Captured Lies.

Her motto: Read to escape… Escape to read…

Maggie Thom… proves her strength as a master of words, plots and finely chiseled characters… she weaves a brilliant cloth of the many colors of deceit.”  Dii – TomeTender

Author Links

Connect with Maggie Thom at her self-titled website, as well as Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

My thanks to Maggie for being here today to chat about writing, organizing a series, and the launch of Split Seconds. OK, now back to reading here 🙂

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58 thoughts on “What Does It Take To Write a Series? (Guest Post)

  1. melouisef

    Often wonder who actually started this series ‘thing’. With detective mysteries probably Sherlock Holmes? I sometimes see a book say 5 of a series but won’t buy it in case I miss out on important stuff. On the other hand I hate re reading the story just to keep up with the character. The devil you do…..
    .😋

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Maggie

      Hi. Good question. I hear you about the series thing. I used to struggle with that too but what I’ve found is that if an author does it right, then you should be able to pick up any book and get a good sense of who the characters are. I know I’ve tried to make each of these stand alone for that reason. I know it can be frustrating to try to follow a series and then if the next book doesn’t come out for a long time, who is that character again? 🙂 What stories do you like to read? Thank you for stopping by.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
      1. melouisef

        I actually read a variety from history to historical novels to mysteries and detective. The only author that I ever followed through with a specific detective is Michael Connelly with Bosch. But as you say a good author knows how. Thanks for your reply

        Liked by 2 people

        Reply
  2. Carrie Rubin

    I’m working on a series now, and what I’ve learned is how important it is to keep good notes. I also need to sit down and create a formal timeline. I have an informal one I created for the first book, but now that I’m into the second I see how important it is to have one timeline you can keep adding on to. Great article!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Maggie

      Hi Carrie. Keeping good notes is a must isn’t i? Well if you want to save yourself time down the road. Sounds like you have a good system for mapping it out. It would have helped me a lot but as I said, I hadn’t planned on writing a series. 🙂 What is your series about?

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
      1. D. Wallace Peach

        Yes, I write fantasy. I tend to outline a whole series (serial) at once and write it at once. I’m toying with the idea of creating a world and then writing stand-alone books within the world (more series than serial). It’s a challenge for me.

        Liked by 2 people

        Reply
  3. Maggie

    Hi Christy. Thank you so much for hosting me today – my article and the launch of my new suspense/thriller, Split Seconds. Also thank you for re-reading and reviewing Captured Lies and being one of my ARC readers and reviewers of Split Seconds. I truly appreciate your support. 🙂 You are a true gem.

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  4. rollyachabotbooks

    Hi Christy and Maggie…
    Excellent article filled with great advice. I as well have written a few 2 and 3 book series and they are a challenge. One of the many reasons I like to use Scrivener as it is a great resource for keeping track of characters, conflicts and personalities.
    Well done ladies, bookmarked for future reference.

    Hugs as always

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Maggie

      Hi. Thank you. So glad you found it helpful. Yes, Scrivener is awesome for that reason. If only I’d had it for book 1 and book 2 it would have made my life way easier. 🙂 What do you write? Congrats on writing more than one series. It is a lot of work.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  5. rollyachabotbooks

    Hi Maggie…
    Thanks for the question. I found Scrivener to be very daunting to begin with as it is a very daunting program. I have found many functions I use and now I am at ease with it. I write mainly what I would classify as Christian/Fiction, adventure mainly. I can be found at my blog at http://firesiderolly.weebly.com I have a bookstore there that will give you a better idea as well as a blog.

    Warmest regards

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
  6. Sageleaf

    It’s always fun and wonderful to meet new, and talented authors. Writing a series can be very rewarding, but it is challenging in that you need to stay organized, and keep track of all those characters. When someone can successfully pull that off, it’s always a wonderful thing. So glad to meet Maggie here, and I will definitely have a look at her book! (That’s also why guest posts are so fun – you get to meet fun, new people!) I hope you both have a wonderful week, and here’s to many more wonderful words written, and books sold! Sending you hugs and wishes for lots of success.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Maggie

      Thank you for the kind words and for the hugs and well wishes. I truly appreciate it. Thank you for stopping by. What kind of stories do you prefer to read?

      Like

      Reply
  7. Annika Perry

    Fascinating guest post about series books and I had to smile at how it was never Maggie’s plan…and we have to be open to changes! 😀 Before blogging I hadn’t considered series books but realise they are hugely popular, particularly among indie writers and readers…as it is I have roughly planned a sequel to my current WIP – again something that was never my intention! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
      1. Annika Perry

        Maggie, my WIP is called ‘Island Girl’! I have taken lots of notes an actually written part of the second novel as it was originally part of the first one but it just became too long!! The ending to the second one is all written and even I’m moved to tears reading it! A long long way from anyone else seeing it, alas.

        Liked by 1 person

        Reply
        1. Maggie Thom

          Hi Anika. Congrats on the writing. When an author feels and experiences their own writing, to me that is a sign of a good writer. 🙂 Any ideas with when you’ll publish? and how – self or traditional?

          Like

  8. Sheila

    It does sound like a lot of work! It’s funny how we get cajoled into these things. I didn’t think I’d write a sequel, but I’m working on one now because people have been asking if there’s another book. It took years to research and write the first one though so by the time I’m done with this one, they might forget about it anyway. 🙂 Thank you for the advice and good luck with the launch!

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. Maggie Thom

      Hi Sheila. Yes those darn readers get us to do things we didn’t think we would. 🙂 It sure can be a lot of work but I have to say that I have truly enjoyed the process. I sure learned a lot. Good luck with book 2. What genre do you write?

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      Reply
    1. Maggie Thom

      So true Amy. It definitely taught me to change how I write and the notes I keep track of. Now though with it all being on computer, that alone makes it so much easier. 🙂 Thank you for stopping by.

      Like

      Reply
    1. Maggie Thom

      Hi Marje. I’m happy to have shared my experience, so hopefully can make it easier for someone else. And it’s so true as an author, who knows? 🙂 We never really know what direction or where we will go, although I guess we don’t want to tell anyone that. 🙂 Congrats on your books. What do you write?

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  9. Ste J

    Interesting, I notice a growing trend of first books in a series to be almost curtailed from a natural ending so there can be a book 2 and whilst I welcome series, it would be good if the first story can have the same quality ending as the rest of the book has shown. Of course that is just a general gripe and not indicative of all series, it must be good to keep characters the author has grown attached to alive for other adventures, starting with a strong foundation.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. Maggie Thom

      Hi. I agree. I like a strong ending, one that goes with the story and one that doesn’t leave you hanging. Each of my stories in this series are their own stories, some of the characters and some of the storyline carries over as well. It is interesting and somewhat challenging to figure out which characters to carry over and what role they would ultimately play. Thank you for stopping by.

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      Reply
  10. The Regular Guy NYC

    Good interview and interesting. I find it hard sometimes just to write a blog post. Setting up the initial idea for a series, character development, and plot that can flow to and from each book must be time consuming and requires much imagination.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. Maggie Thom

      Hi. I think actually writing the series would have been easier, had I planned it all out first. 🙂 It was a lot of work and of course as I mentioned more because I’d had no plans for it. I have to say I find writing a fiction novel easier than a blog post as well. 🙂 Thank you for stopping by.

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      Reply
    1. Maggie Thom

      Hi. Thank you. I think the best trick is to be flexible and willing to go in the direction you need to and figure out the path to get there. It was an interesting journey. Thank you for the compliment. 🙂

      Like

      Reply

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