Saturday, 2 April 2011

What's in a Series?

It’s the story, stupid. To paraphrase Bill Clinton.
When you’re writing a series, it’s that simple. You have a story. And that story is made up of other stories. Each of those little stories is a book. The big story is the series. Simple. Right?

I’ve never written a series before setting out on the Spark/Flame books, so I’m coming at this really naively I’m sure. I write standalones. Under a different name. In a genre that doesn’t have many series. I love dark urban fantasy and I love the darker end of paranormal romance, but it’s something I come to as a reader not a writer. In fact, as I spend a whole load of time watching on TV I’d use something more business-speak sounding and say I come as a consumer not a producer.

I’m writing a series I’d love to, er, consume. What I’m basically doing is writing a run for a TV show. Only as a book. Short titles, 15-20,000 words, that come out once every two months. 7 titles in a year, 7 one-hour episodes. A pilot that sets things up, explains how we got where we got to at the start of the year. And a story that takes place over the course of a year, building to the end of year finale.

It feels like the perfect format for the genre, one that lends itself to epublishing with its quick turnaround, one that handles the balance between series and episode, keeps storylines focused, develops characters rather than dumping them on us fully-loaded. And it’s great to market, because you’re marketing one thing – the series, in particular the first book – all year round, because you want everyone to start at episode one.

But there are some questions.

Is this long enough to develop a story for a book? I mean, come on, it’s short novella length. Yeah, but to answer back to sceptic me, why is it that TV can create beautiful arcs, perfectly realised stories that balance an episodic plot whilst sustaining a series-wide direction, and still find time to cram in sufficient backstory that we see our characters deepen and develop as they go, when books seem to struggle so hard? Sure it’s great to have the freedom a book gives you to take readers off in all kinds of directions, but I have a feeling it’s not only possible but liberating for writers and rewarding for writers.

Is it cheating readers? It’s cheating readers to give them less than your best. That’s all I’m saying. It’s a non subject for me. I’ll have to let readers decide.

There are all kinds of reasons why I’m excited by this project as a writer, but the part of me that finds the publishing world fascinating, and the epublishing landscape in particular, is also intrigued, a little nervous, and also very curious.

Friday, 1 April 2011

Blood Pressures

How many blogs never get started because there's never anything awesome enough to start with? OK, I'm a writer and I think my forthcoming Black Heart High is pretty awesome, but this is a place for me to talk about other stuff, like books and ebooks and stuff I like.

Fortunatley it's April 1st and yes, that means April Fool's but more important it's the night after The Kills' one-off UK gig (OK, before their UK tour later) at Heaven, and just days before Blood Pressures is out. So here's a little VV & Hotel, with the unbelievably amazing Satellite

and a reminder of THE best rock video ever, for THE best song since decades-ago-o'clock