A warm welcome to Nicola Pryce to the blog today. Nicola has come to talk to us about how a standalone book can turn into a series. Nicola, can you tell us more?
My debut novel was 175,000 words when I submitted it to an agent. I had no idea it was too long. At the time, having one book published seemed incredible, a two-book deal verging on unbelievable. But a series? Out of the question.
Looking at what is currently being written by RNA members, series seem hugely popular with publishers frequently offering three-or-four book contracts. I may have stumbled on mine by chance, but readers clearly love a series. So how to structure one? It’s daunting enough to plan one book, let alone six.
Do you go for a linear series with a set of people, told in chronological installments, an episodic series with one main protagonist which can be read in any order, or, as in my case, do you go for an interlinked series with characters that dip in and out of each story? Another clever ploy is to link your stories through family connection.
In a chronological series the time frame is as critical as the story. Like baking, you can’t have a soggy middle. Your story has to be equally engaging in every book. The episodic approach seems slightly easier, the strong central character being the draw, and his/her antics what keeps your readers coming back. I stumbled on the interlinked approach and I have to say I enjoy it enormously. My characters lie dormant in some books and are central to others.
Do you follow your characters, or is the setting more important? In my series, place is definitely the key, and judging by so many of your books it is for you, too. Place is pivotal for providing an authentic background and is often what draws our readers. Get the setting and date right, and our characters realistic, then all we have to do is concentrate on the stories.
I’ve learned a few tricks. Perhaps one for a writer of historical fiction is to keep some research up your sleeve. Don’t pour everything into the first books. The over-arching themes of war, the place of women in society, greed, poverty, and corruption provides the backdrop, but I enjoy taking a new theme in each book and exploring it through the eyes of a different heroine. Writing in the first person seems to make this easier. I choose this because I enjoy writing separate love stories: what I didn’t know was that I was actually writing about a group of women who form a network of support as each face jeopardy and conflict in love.
Nor did I realise how much I would enjoy revisiting each character, and the interaction between them as the series developed. I’ve waited six years to tell the story of my next heroine. Her voice has been silenced over the past years but, at last, she can tell us what really happened.
And my debut novel? It was ruthlessly edited to 110,00 words!
Happy writing everyone.
About the Author
Nicola Pryce trained as a nurse at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London. She loves literature and history and has an Open University degree in Humanities. She’s a qualified adult literacy support volunteer and lives with her husband in the Blackdown Hills in Somerset. She and her husband love sailing and together they sail the south coast of Cornwall in search of adventure. If she’s not writing or gardening, you’ll find her scrubbing decks. Pengelly’s Daughter is her first novel, then The Captain’s Girl, The Cornish Dressmaker, The Cornish Lady, and A Cornish Betrothal. Her next book The Cornish Captive will be published in November 2021.
Where to keep up with Nicola:
Website: Nicola Pryce – Author
Facebook: Nicola Pryce-Author | Facebook
Pinterest: (77) Pinterest
Nicola was talking to Ruby Moone.
Moone lives in the wilds of Lancashire with her husband and writes historical and contemporary romance. At school, her teachers said that she lived with her head in the clouds and if she didn’t stop daydreaming she would never get anywhere. She never did stop daydreaming, and after years of happily living in the clouds, decided to write the stories down.