How to write a book and plan a series – Frances Brody

Writer’s Digest original article

 Frances Brodyfacebook and twitter


Blood Memory originally started out with 2 characters that had absolutely nothing to do with the premise.  In fact, Blood Memory:Book 1 is about werewolves, not vampires, and the Pipers weren’t even a twinkle in my noodle yet.  In 2005 I started writing about Ellis Duban and Simon Huntington.  Twisted sociopath, but enigmatic leader of an unrecognized vampire clan and her right-hand, aka silent worshiping lover.  No werewolves at all.  None. The story evolved about a year later as we incorporated werewolves into the message board that Ellis and Simon started on – Sanguine Affliction.  Then the legend was born, yadda yadda yadda.  So I’m reading this article about planning a series and come across the following.


Recently I came across the advice that you should read around the genre you plan to write. Find out what’s on publishers’ lists; analyse the market.


The squeal of tires rips through my head (and you’d think literally if you saw my morning hair right now) and I stop at that sentence.  I write paranormal fiction about werewolves and vampires.  You don’t think I actually READ that genre, do you?  I get the same group of questions…a lot.


“Oh did you like True Blood?”

“What did you think of Twilight?”

“Did you like the Anita Blake series?”


No.  Movies sucked.  Not really, I got 1/4 of the way through the first one.


I don’t read vampire books.  They skeeve me out, sadly.  Weird, huh?  Why do I write about vampires and werewolves, but don’t read the genre?  Because there is some serious crap out there for one, and two, you tend to see the smutty side of vampires because, let’s face it, that shit sells.  Don’t get me wrong, I love me some smut, and have written a little (a lot) of it on SA and into my books.  I guess my problem here is – mainstream paranormal is flooded with sex and that’s not just what my stories are about…for the most part.


Twilight was extremely well written, I will give Stephanie Meyers’ that.  I enjoyed the entire series, although she could have ended it with WAY more bloodshed, but it didn’t transition near as well onto the silver screen.  That’s not her fault, she didn’t write the screenplays.  Actually, A LOT was lost in the translation, and I kept that in mind when I wrote my stories.  There is way more military action than paranormal hotness in Blood Memory, which might be my downfall, but I just don’t think my writing fits the pop-culture phenomenon that the vampires are so popular in right now.  Continuing on with the article…


 Sometimes, practical tips are best. Here are mine. When starting work on a novel, I buy two A4 spiral-bound notebooks, for research, characters and story. I take a camera when I visit locations. Reading for background research is useful, but it doesn’t beat meeting the experts, and they are usually willing to help. I am never happy with my first drafts but save them. To avoid the confusion of a bleary-eyed start on the wrong draft, I highlight abandoned versions and give them a colour. At the end of each day I email work to myself, so if the house burns down while we’re out, or a burglar strikes, my manuscript lives on in cyberspace. Not very high tech, but this works for me.


Ok yeah I don’t do this, but it does sound very practical and helpful for this particular author.  Maybe it’s a generational thing, as well.  My bff, and ebook cover designer, asked me the other day, “Do you write down your ideas and outline?”


“God no, I just wing it.”


I do tend to keep everything in my head before writing it down.  Book 1 was written almost exclusively on the fly during 2010’s Nanowrimo.  It started with a couple pages from SA and just grew from there.  It ended up being about 80k words, but I hit 60k during the first 30 days.  Book 3 took a year and book 2 is proving to be difficult.  Yes I wrote out of order, don’t judge!  They say J.K. Rowling did the same thing with Harry Potter – having the entire story in her head before even finishing the first book.  Ms. Brody’s tips are subjectively helpful, but I think everyone tends to have different writing styles.  I daydream.  A lot.  But it works for me.

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