THE FIRST TIME I…
WROTE A ROMANCE SERIES
Pippa Croft/Phillipa Ashley
In spring 2013, I was lucky enough to be given a three book contract to write a series of hot romance novels for Penguin Books.
This is the first time I’ve written a series featuring the same characters in each book. Prior to this all my books have been standalone, with completely new characters and settings. Each book in the Oxford Blue series is full-length at approx 90k words and I’ve just started Third Time Lucky – funnily enough the third book in the series.
Sorry that I’ve got to use a blatant plug i.e.the publisher’s blurb to introduce my findings, but this will hopefully put things in context! (Mmm, think the Romaniacs…)
The First Time We Met is the first novel in the sizzling new Oxford Blue romance series from Pippa Croft.
When US Senator’s daughter Lauren Cusack arrives at the enchanting Wyckham College of Oxford University, she hopes to mend her broken heart by throwing herself into her studies.
But then English aristocrat Alexander Hunt walks into her life and everything changes. Handsome, brooding, and with his own dark past to escape, Alexander is exactly what Lauren doesn’t need – but she finds herself helplessly drawn towards him.
Both Alexander and Lauren know that they should stay away from each other . . . but sometimes desire is so powerful that it conquers all else.
THE VERDICT SO FAR
So here’s my report so far, on the challenges and joys of writing a series as opposed to single titles and some questions to think about before you embark on this epic journey.
- Are your main characters compelling enough and can they develop sufficiently to sustain a series of books? Do the hero, heroine, and secondary characters grow and change with each book and over the series as a whole?
- How are you going to introduce previous events for readers who pick up the series with Book 2 or 3? How much of their back story should you include while still keeping the new books fresh and exciting for the reader?
- If it’s a hot and steamy series, how can you keep the love scenes exciting? You need to make sure that each sexy scene is part of the character development and moves the characters on in some way, and isn’t simply there for titillation.
- You need to keep in mind the story arc of the whole series and of each book.
- You can’t go back and change the story in earlier books, if you’re writing a series as you go along – which you probably will be.
- However, you can’t plan too far ahead or you’ll be shoehorning characters into the plot of three books rather than letting them develop naturally. However, you do need a very good idea of their motivations and conflicts and these have to develop and change.
- Neither you nor your readers have to say goodbye to characters you’ve grown to love – or hate – by the end of the book.
- You can take your time over each character’s development, get deep under their skins and set them new challenges to overcome.
- If it’s a hot and steamy series, you’ll have plenty of opportunities for love scenes to show the characters growing and changing. Great fun…
- You have time to get deep inside your characters’ psyche and develop their voices.
- Hopefully, your readers will be so engaged with the characters they will be desperate to read each book.
That looks like more challenges than joys; however I absolutely love writing the Oxford Blue series and slightly dread it finishing it at some point.
I’ll let you into a secret: I still don’t know exactly what’s going to happen to Lauren and Alexander, but I can promise you that it will be dramatic, sexy and a big surprise (to me as much as the reader…)
Thank you so much, Phillipa, for this fascinating insight and advice. I’ve not written a series but can see how exciting it must be. Please do visit again and let us know how things develop.