Sunday, July 1, 2012

Writing a Series: Ideas

Ideas for Series

I love this picture! I have felt this way before when trying to come up with an idea for writing a series.

Series are popular with readers, and therefore, with editors. When my agent pitches a proposal for me, she wants a synopsis for each of the three books in the series and the first three chapters of the first book.

Ideas can come from anywhere. Cozy mysteries, which rarely contain graphic murders, have a theme. The main characters could run a cupcake shop, crochet, remodel homes, or cook for the president. Each story, and book title, reflects on the theme. I keep a list of the themes being used and then brainstorm a list of possible ideas not on the list.

When I write a mystery series, I know I need a theme, three motives for murder, and a cast of characters. Any of these can come to me in any order, from any source. My first series came to me when I witnessed a feud. I decided to take the situation and place it in a fictitious neighborhood, with fictitious characters, and make it much worse than the real feud. An idea might be inspired from a news report, an incident from one’s past, or asking a what if question.

The idea for the first book in a series usually comes to me easily. The second and third books are a bit more difficult. I need a situation in which my cast of characters will be needed to investigate, so the murder must come to them. Then I need a motive. Several times I have written a list of reasons why people kill as a means of brainstorming. I’ll write greed, revenge, passion…and then I usually come up with an idea. Once I get started with the synopsis, the twists and turns come as a natural progression of the investigation and the killer’s desire not to get caught.

If I’m stuck, I find spending time outdoors, meditating, burning incense, or talking it over with friends helps.

No comments: