Monday, August 25, 2014

I HEART YA 2014: Tips On Writing A Book Series by Author Emma L. Adams

Darkness Watching (Darkworld Series, #1)

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Synopsis: Eighteen-year-old Ashlyn is one interview away from her future when she first sees the demons. She thinks she's losing her mind, but the truth is far more frightening: she can see into the Darkworld, the home of spirits– and the darkness is staring back.

Desperate to escape the demons, Ash accepts a place at a university in the small town of Blackstone, in the middle of nowhere - little knowing that it isn't coincidence that led her there but the pull of the Venantium, the sorcerers who maintain the barrier keeping demons from crossing from the Darkworld into our own world.

All-night parties, new friendships and a life without rules or limits are all part of the package of student life - but demons never give up, and their focus on Ash has attracted the attention of every sorcerer in the area. Ash is soon caught between her new life and a group of other students with a connection to the Darkworld, who could offer the answers she's looking for. The demons want something from her, and someone is determined to kill her before she can find out what it is.

In a world where darkness lurks beneath the surface, not everyone is what they appear to be...

GUEST POST: Tips On Writing A Book Series

I always knew Darkness Watching was going to be part of a series. I’d outlined the five novels in the Darkworld series before I even started writing, but now that I’ve completed the whole series, I’m surprised – and I was continually surprised – at how many things evolved organically as I went along.

They say there are two kinds of writers – “plotters” and “pantsers” (or as George R. R. Martin calls them “architects” and “gardeners”). Some writers plan what they write beforehand, some don’t. Series writing seems to favour hardcore planners, but this isn’t necessarily the case. A lot of writers, me included, are a mixture of both. I did outline the Darkworld series, but some things developed as I went along, and probably couldn’t have done so any other way. I actually still have the Word document of my first series outline, and although I knew pretty much everything that would happen in the first book of the series (I had the key events outlined), the others evolved throughout the process.

The “planning” aspect is vital if you’re intending to write a complex series – the obvious example being the Harry Potter series. It’s one of the best-plotted series out there, and when you read the books back-to-back, you can see the ingenious ways in which Rowling foreshadows events in future books, and plants clues that only pay off four books later. This series could only have been written with careful planning beforehand!

That said, there’s no reason why a non-pre-planned series can’t work. I’d advise writers who work this way to note down key things while writing the first book, such as character names/details, locations, etc. That way, they can avoid contradictions and continuity issues in future books. If writing fantasy, I’d definitely advise writers to note down the “laws” of magic in their fantasy world before starting writing. I find that the longer I spend planning beforehand, the less difficult the writing and revising process is.

I can’t put words on paper without a plan, but I also love the spontaneous part of writing, when something appears to come out of nowhere, and that can’t be pre-planned. So, I tend to follow a loose outline, where I write down the key events, and fill in the gaps as I go along. A lot of the time, events in future books are a direct result of characters’ actions and decisions in previous novels – in fact, if the characters are driving the story, then that’s a very good thing! I had certain key events in the series noted down, but it was amazing how many things just appeared on the page simply by following logic and consequence. The characters seemed to take on a life of their own!

Of course, I did have the series’ “big secrets” all figured out beforehand, and a general idea of how it all tied together. I have a specific planning method where I write one-line summaries of each book, then expand to a paragraph for each. I also write character profiles, setting research, and the rules of the fantasy world (in this case, the Darkworld and how magic relates to that). But in terms of the overall storyline, the initial plan was actually pretty vague. I knew there were going to be five books, but in the original “Ideas” word document where I wrote all this down before starting, I don’t have more than a few lines for books 3-5. Most of it came later, when I’d finished the first book. I then wrote full synopses for all four sequels, and by the time I’d drafted the second book, I had a pretty good idea how it was all going to play out.

For anyone wanting to write a series, I think my main tip would be to work on it a little at a time – and have a “master document” or Scrivener file with all the key information so you can access it easily. That’s the approach I’m taking for the series I’m currently planning – and it’s really the only way to do it, considering my next series spans several universes, all of which need to be researched and created! I do like a challenge. :)  So, I’ll be working on all the elements – plot, worldbuilding, characters, etc. a little at a time, until I’m confident I have enough material to start the first book. It goes without saying that series writing is much more challenging than writing standalone novels, but in my experience, it’s also a lot of fun!


Emma spent her childhood creating imaginary worlds to compensate for a disappointingly average reality, so it was probably inevitable that she ended up writing fantasy novels for children and young adults. She was born in Birmingham, UK, which she fled at the first opportunity to study English Literature at Lancaster University. In her three years at Lancaster, she hiked up mountains, skydived in Australia, and endured a traumatic episode involving a swarm of bees in the Costa Rican jungle. She also entertained her creative writing group and baffled her tutors by submitting strange fantasy tales featuring dragons and supernatural monsters to workshops. These included her first publication, a rather bleak dystopian piece, and a disturbing story about a homicidal duck (which she hopes will never see the light of day).

Now a reluctant graduate, Emma refuses to settle down and be normal. When not embarking on wild excursions, she edits and proofreads novels for various publishing houses and reads an insane number of books. At the age of 21, she signed a publishing contract with Curiosity Quills Press for the first book in her creepy urban fantasy Darkworld series. DARKNESS WATCHING was published in October 2013, and four more novels and a novella will follow. She chats about writing and other book-related things at her blog, From the Writer’s Nest, and looks forward to sharing more tales from the bizarre depths of her imagination.

Where to Stalk Emma!

Enter to win a copy of Darkness Watching over on the I HEART YA 2014 Giveaways page!

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