Tag Archives: Chronology

Let’s Talk About Serial Chicklit ~ Join Me on #ChickLitChat Today!

Serial Chick Lit.
Chick Lit series.
Serialised romantic comedies.
Are you a fan?

‘Serial’ #ChickLitChat on Twitter,
12 September 2013,
8 p.m. to 9 p.m. EDT

Tonight (or rather, very early tomorrow morning, from where I’m sitting), it’s my great pleasure to co-host the hugely fun #ChickLitChat forum on Twitter. For those of you who may not have come across it before, the express purpose of #ChickLitChat is to celebrate all things chick lit! We hang out from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. EDT (that would be 1 a.m. to 2 a.m. on FRIDAY morning for me ~ am I dedicated to the cause, or what).

That'll be me with my caffeine props and three layers of clothing as my office has resumed arctic conditions once more. I know. I don't look my best. But hey, it is 1 a.m.!

That’ll be me with my caffeine props and three layers of clothing as my office has resumed arctic conditions once more. I know. I don’t look my best. But hey, it is 1 a.m.!

Tonight’s theme is ‘Chick Lit series.’ The lovely Tracie Banister has very kindly asked if I’d like to co-host the chat with her seeing that, from an author’s point of view, I have a little experience in writing a series.

So here’s some things we might be chatting about. But of course, the floor is YOURS. Tracie and I are simply there to moderate and offer ideas. We want to hear what YOU think, and we’re here to answer your questions!

From a reader’s point of view,
let’s hear…

~what’s the best thing about a series? Why do you love a good Chick Lit series?
~what makes a Chick Lit series great?
~do series ever go on ‘too long’? In other words, can the story go ‘stale’?
~what’s the ‘serial enchantment’ factor: do you ever re-read the ‘old’ books in a series when a new one comes out?

From an author’s point of view, I’ll be happy to talk about or answer questions about…

~the fun of writing a series
~the challenges of writing a series (I say: chronology)
~how to plan a series
~how to say goodbye to your characters at the end of a series

Join us on Twitter ~
we look forward to chatting!
#ChickLitChat

And this is what I’ll be basing my experience on, of course. LOL!

MMM_RRT

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Working out the Kinks in the Trilo-nology

I hold Sophie’s and Dan’s fate in my hands. What a weird feeling! That’s quite a responsibility, actually. Two people’s lives.

I have their lives planned perfectly, of course. I have a grand plan that spans book one, Sophie’s Turn, book two, Sophie’s Run, and the concluding part. It’s a big picture plan. I know what’s going to happen in broad strokes, and then I plan each book in meticulous detail as and when I write it.

So I did a bit of a double-take when I sat down to plan book three. You see, by necessity, a few years will have elapsed between the end of Sophie’s Run and the beginning of my next novel. Events will have transpired that will have changed the world, and Sophie’s universe.

And I suddenly realise that age matters. As in, my characters’ age. Not how old they are, per se, that’s kind of immaterial to the story by now. Well, not immaterial, it matters, too, of course, they’ve grown a little older and developed in the intervening… time.

What I mean is, their exact age matters. How old they are when this next novel starts, with everything that entails for the plot. I didn’t pay much attention to this to begin with. I had a rough age in mind, and I’d counted out their ages using my fingers. I put an age down for both lead characters in the book-three-planning-box, and that seemed fine.

Until. Until I realised that my books usually run from June or July time through the end of the year, sometimes rolling over into the spring. Sophie’s Run, book two, for example, begins in June, just before Sophie’s birthday, and ends in late November with a little spree into the following April.

Birthday. Yes, there you have it. My characters have birthdays, and they need to be honoured. So where initially I counted this many straight years (“one, two, three years since the end of Sophie’s Run”), it became much more complicated when I actually thought about it properly. Because, you see, at the beginning of book two, Sophie is 29, but then she turns 30. At the end of book two, she’s still 30 of course, but she would be turning 31 quite soon. There’s the hitch. That rolling over birthday calendar.

Same for Dan, just a month later. So straight counting of years is actually misleading. In fact, after much scratching of head and, eventually, a detailed month-by-month calendar exercise charting Sophie’s and Dan’s ages over the years with all the relevant events that would have taken place between books two and three… After all of that, it emerged that I actually cheated both characters out of two years of their lives. Well, that’s not on.

Thankfully, I caught this calamity in the nick of time and managed to get my Trilo-nology right before I start planning in depth, let alone writing. So we can all celebrate birthdays with confidence, and in style.

Does it matter?
It will matter. To my characters. To me. Possibly to nobody else, but at least I know now that the story and its evolution over time are plausible. It could work, it could have happened, because I didn’t mess up a (small?) detail like ages. I’m inanely pleased with myself for working this out, bizarrely complicated as it might have been. I can write with complete confidence now.

What about you? Do you worry about details like chronology, ages or timelines when you write? Does it matter to the substance of the story, or am I tying myself in knots unnecessarily?