Guest Post by Charles E. Yallowitz: Writing a Lengthy Series

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen

Thank you to Leigh Michaels for allowing me to be a guest on her blog. My name is Charles E. Yallowitz and I’m the author behind the fantasy series, Legends of Windemere. This is going to be a 15 book series, so one of the most common questions I’m asked is about the challenges of writing a lengthy story. I’m also asked a lot about world building since I need a large area to work with these adventures. For this post, I’m going to talk about both because there is more to my series than most people realize. It’s setting the groundwork for everything else I’ll do in the future, which gives more weight to what I’m creating.

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Let me briefly explain what I mean. My plan is to write Legends of Windemere and then move on to other series that take place within the same world. Nothing will be the same length of this adventure, but cities and characters will be seen multiple times. This means I can’t create an area and toss it aside to never be heard from again. I have to decide if it will be visited by future heroes and how that region has changed. For example, the city of Gaia is a common location in my series. It’s the largest city on the continent of Ralian and acts as a hub for a lot of adventures. This means that Gaia will have to be changed and grow as the series and future tales are written. I consider this while writing and set the stage for a few changes while making sure that it is still the same city at the core. The same situation can be found with the monsters of Windemere. If I switched worlds then I could make multiple versions of the same creature. That isn’t the case here. Once I design a monster, it has remain very close to that. At the very least, you can make different names for each species and have some explanation for the big differences. Personally, I see monsters as fantasy animals and treat them as such. So troll variations will be similar much like different bear species are similar in the real world. Here is where being organized and a little doubt comes into play. I’ll make this easier by putting this information in a list:

  1. Keep notes of where creatures first appear and locations. This way if years pass before you use them again, it’s much easier to find the information. All you really need here is a small notebook with a list.
  2. If you want to put them into a different environment, go back to their original design and make changes around the core. For example, say I wanted to make an arctic ogre and I’ve already established them as forest creatures. Well, I just have to make them hairier and change their extremities to travel over ice. This retains their ogre-like nature while making them suitable for the new region.
  3. In regards to cities, this many require more notes than monsters. I usually have a list of landmarks, famous people, big events, and the books that they show up in. This is because I never know when I’ll return to the city. It could be 5 trilogies from now that I use Bor’daruk again and this written information makes it easier to reintroduce it.
  4. Work off your needles of doubt. If you’re returning to a city or reusing a monster then listen to your gut. Once you get the sense that something is wrong, go back to the earlier appearances to check your continuity. That needle has saved my butt many times when writing the later books.
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I know this probably sounds daunting to both write and read. It’s not an easy feat to pull off too and there are always setbacks. I forget things or mix up information that I don’t catch until I read through again. Some days my mind wanders to the other series and I find it hard to focus on Legends of Windemere. It does help to toy around with future ideas because you can leave some foreshadowing in the current series. Maybe a background character turns out to be a hero or villain at a later date. Perhaps the events of one adventure gives birth to another. This might be why I remain so organized. Some people have asked why I’m going for so large a scale when it comes to my books, career, and world. The best answer I can give is that it’s fun and the hard work is entirely worth the occasional headache. One of my goals with Windemere is to leave behind a fantasy world that other authors can play in if they wish. It’s a lofty goal, but it’s one that keeps me going through the confusion and piles of notes.

FEEL FREE TO VISIT ME AT LEGENDS OF WINDEMERE!

6 comments for “Guest Post by Charles E. Yallowitz: Writing a Lengthy Series

  1. March 1, 2015 at 9:03 am

    All I can say is wow. You must have several notebooks full of information. I remember you posted a map, which you said would evolve. Wow. But it’s great that you established such a huge world–one large enough for so many books. I can’t help thinking of Discworld, which has several smaller series within the larger one.

  2. February 26, 2015 at 1:55 pm

    I like the notes idea. I have begun using it to keep track of events as I write them. Thanks Leigh for hosting Charles.

    • February 26, 2015 at 5:55 pm

      Those notes definitely become a lifesaver when you get further into a story. 🙂

      • February 26, 2015 at 6:00 pm

        I used to go back and try to find what I said before (you know like a character name)

        • February 26, 2015 at 7:38 pm

          Ctrl+F is my friend. Gotta love the Microsoft Word ‘Find’ function.

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