Good morning RU! Please help me welcome back our friend Allie Pleiter. Allie’s going to chat with us about a topic we’ve never before covered at RU–series continuity. It’s a subject I’ve heard bandied about at conference, but not so much that I understand all the ends and outs.
So, without further ado, here’s Allie!
If you write category fiction–or aspire to–chances are at least once in your career you will meet up with the literary phenomenon known as the continuity mini series. A publisher-initiated series of 3-5 books that run over a specified story arc, these turn the usual creative process a bit on its ear. You want to think through this opportunity, if offered, because there are definite upsides and downsides:
So why say “yes”?
You were asked, and that’s a good thing. You can’t sign up to do one of these, you have to be invited. While I might argue there’s not too many reasons to turn down a paying offer of any kind from your publisher (particularly in this market), there are some implied confidences of quality and reliability in such an offer.
It’s an opportunity to collaborate. Yes, it’s going to mean hundreds of emails or even its own Yahoo group, but it may be a chance to exercise new collaborative muscles. It’s frustrating in some respects–writing by committee is never a smooth business–but a valuable education.
You may get to play with the big dogs. Every continuity usually has one or two big name authors as an anchor, the same way anthologies do. A continuity gives you the best possible introduction to another writer’s fans: a place in a story they already care about.
If you hate coming up with book ideas, that part is done for you. Yes, your job is to flush out the story arc in ways that reflect your voice and give life to the characters, but the basic plot line is laid out in advance.
Sounds great. Why wouldn’t you do a continuity?
It’s not your idea. And that may really bug you. This is, essentially, work for hire, which also means you don’t own the copyright. Still, work for hire is work, and these days it may not be wise to look a work horse in the mouth, if you know what I mean.
It may not be your editor. If you love your longtime editor, chances are he or she will not be the person handling this project. You’ll most likely have to work with someone new, or at the very least add a third partner to your team.
It’s hard. The books are sequential, but are written nearly simultaneously. That means you’re writing off an ending someone else hasn’t even written yet. Details have to match up on the fly, which can make for massive confusion and no small amount of rewriting. You’ll be given a “bible,” a detailed synopsis and character descriptions for both your book and the entire series, but it doesn’t cover everything. And should you attempt to deviate, the ramifications can be whopping.
It’s a team sport. Collaborations aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. If you like to write your first draft all at the last minute in a frenzy of procrastination, you’ll make yourself and your continuity partners crazy. If you finish too early, you might have to go back repeatedly to make adjustments based on what your partners have written. And you’ll most likely have to share your work before it’s finished, so if that makes you cringe this might not be for you.
Am I glad I worked on the Alaskan Brides series? Yes, but I’ll be the first to admit it was tough. I would never have looked to the Gold Rush on my own, so I was introduced to a fascinating culture and subject I might never have otherwise discovered. I stretched new creative muscles, and that is never a bad thing. I put another tool in my toolbox, another avenue for work from my publisher, and that’s never a bad thing. And I had the opportunity to work with two wonderful authors, Linda Ford and Dorothy Clark. All in all, not a bad deal. Not a bad deal at all.
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RU Writers, Would you write a story for a continuity series, if asked?
RU Readers, Do you love reading continuity series? Did you realize so much was going on behind the scenes to bring you a great read(s)?
Be sure to stop back tomorrow for our Ask an Editor column, brought to you by the lovely and crazy-talented Theresa Stevens.
An avid knitter, coffee junkie, and devoted chocoholic, Allie Pleiter writes both fiction and non-fiction. The enthusiastic but slightly untidy mother of two, Allie spends her days writing books, buying yarn, and finding new ways to avoid housework. Allie hails from Connecticut, moved to the midwest to attend Northwestern University, and currently lives outside Chicago, Illinois. The “dare from a friend” to begin writing has produced two parenting books, fourteen novels, and various national speaking engagements on faith, women’s issues, and writing. Visit her website at www.alliepleiter.com or her knitting blog at www.DestiKNITions.blogspot.com.
Harlequin Love Inspired Historical
A gold-rush town is no place for a single mother. But widow Lana Bristow won’t abandon the only home her son has ever known. She’ll fight to remain in Treasure Creek, Alaska—even if it means wedding Mack Tanner, the man she blames for her husband’s death. Mack sees marriage as his duty, the only way to protect his former business partner’s family. Yet what starts as an obligation changes as his spoiled socialite bride proves to be a woman of strength and grace. A woman who shows Mack the only treasure he needs is her heart.
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