January 30, 2011

So You Think You Want To Write A Fantasy Series?

Guest Blogger- Bobbye Terry!

So you think you want to write a fantasy series…

You can’t stop thing about it, an idea nagging at the back of your brain that won’t go away, a heroine with kick-assitude who keeps waking you up from your dreams or a hero who woos you awake with his evaporating kisses. But where do you begin and how will your idea spawn not one but many books around some central theme?

Before you sit down and busily start to get the first chapter down, stop. Be smart and consider the following list. Know where you want to go so you don’t have to come back and backtrack, and yes, pantsers, this will work for you (so said the queen of all pantsers, me).

Series Worldbuilding-List of Things to Consider:
  1. Fantasy in current world or other world? Will your world co-exist with our current world or will it be different, play be new rules? If so, what are those rules?
  2. Future, Present Day, Past or Time Travel?

Is this in the future on our planet Earth? If so, how did we get where we are? Background here...is it a dystopian world, ravaged by war and devastation of a flourishing paradise, or a world now controlled by one sect? How will you best illustrate the change in conditions? Is it in the past? If so, have you done your research about dialect, clothing, customs, conditions,  activities and occupations for daily living? Is it a time travel? If so, how will you best contrast the dichotomy?
  1. Fantasy beings—in human form with special powers, category beings (i.e., vampires, witches, angels, zombies, demons, etc?), or totally new category?

If your characters look like humans but have powers, what are those powers? Is there a limit or an Achilles heel? If they fall into a category of beings, do they act like the stereotype of those in other novels, or do your beings look or act differently? If they do, bring that out early. Are they in a new category? If so, how do you describe them and how do you suspend belief?
  1. Items, terrain, locations, special features that remain in all books?

What is the glue that holds this series together, the constants? Think of one or a small number. In my series now in progress, the series centers around the holy book, The Book of the Beginning. If you use the same locations each time, make sure these locations, their places, etc., stay the same in each book.
  1. Do the Hero and Heroine stay the same in every book or do they change?

If the hero and heroine are the same, how will you ensure that they can hold your readers from book to book? What is suspenseful that continues to propel readers forward? If hero and heroine change, what continuity do you bring over from earlier books?
  1. Tone of the books—needs to stay similar.

You can’t have one dark and one light, one funny and one somber, one sweet and one ultra hot. The books need to be smooth like a nice glass of wine or a great piece of jazz music.
  1. Keeping all the characters straight—do you have them written down somewhere, including physical and personality details?

This is very hard after you write 80-1000,000 words times three or four or five. Write down all your characters, their idiosyncrasies, their traits so you can reference to make sure they stay the same. Even if they’re short-term in the book or the series, you need to keep track of the names and using the same letters, etc. Consider doing some backstory, other things about what make them who they are. You may want to do a companion book like Sherrilyn Kenyon did for the Dark Hunter series.
  1. Website—does your world have its own distinct website?

This may be a good idea if the series is long. I have one for my Book of the Beginning series. It’s not complete yet, but will be a s the first book debuts. Always be ready to greet your readers and fans with information to whet their reading appetities.
I hope this has gotten you to start thinking, or maybe a single title sounds real good about now…

Bobbye Terry is the multi-published writer of fantasy, suspense and romantic comedy novels under her own name, her solo pseudonym, Daryn Cross, and her co-authored one,Terry Campbell. Her previous works have garnered finalist awards in the Booksellers’ Best and other RWA-sponsored contests. Her most recent release is It’s Magic by Daryn Cross & LJ DeLeon, Crescent Moon Press. Craigs’ Legacy by Terry Campbell, will debut as one of Black Opal Books’ first releases on February 11th. Additionally, she has a new short story, “Legend of the True Love Angel” by Bobbye Terry, in Turquoise Morning press’ just released Be Mine, Valentine anthology.


  1. Nice blog post Bobbye. Lots of good information. And love the phrase kick-assitude!

  2. Bobbye,
    Great post! I'm just starting my first fantasy romance book and those are all questions I've been wrestling with. I've written series before, but this is the first fantasy world I've "built." Thanks for the thought provoking questions!

  3. my question for you -- do you plan your series of books from the start, or just feel it out, spinning of one sequel after another? How do you get that first book of the series to sell without having some idea of where it is going?

  4. Bobbye, another great post on writing. Continued success with your books!

  5. Thanks for the great post, Bobbye! I'm just in the process of starting an urban fantasy series, so I'll be keeping this list to refer to as I brainstorm.

    I've also started a list of secondary characters that I'd like to have recur in the series, and a binder for all the worldbuilding notes, so I don't accidentally move a building or change a minor character's appearance as I move from one book to the next. :)

    Supernaturally Sexy Stories

  6. What great advice! Thanks for sharing so much helpful information. Where's the print button?

  7. Writing fantasy is one of my favorite things. The worldbuilding can be difficult but writing it all down definitely helps. :) Great post!

  8. You guys have made me feel great. I'm happy this was helpful and informative. Normally, once I get the first book in motion and at least half way through and realize the potential to expand, I go ahead and plan out the whole series. Just a paragraph or two to know where I'm headed. Hope that's helpful, Claudia.

  9. Great post, Bobbye! Very informative! It really helps to have a list like this when writing. Thanks!

    Avery Michaels


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