January 2, 2019
ADVICE TAKEN OR NOT:
When first starting to write stories, I read widely on advice from books and web sites. As we all do, I picked and chose things that struck a personal cord such as be persistent and don’t get discouraged, write and publish again and again, and of course be respectful to readers/listeners by doing as well as you can in editing, formatting, and cover. That also means I ignored some advice, especially with regard to writing series. Instead of listing advice I generally ignore, I’ll list some of what I strived in the Destiny’s Crucible series (with no comment on how well I always succeeded).
1) An arc that has a conclusion for the major characters and conflicts. In books 1-4, the ending of book 4 was written early on and intended to be the end of the story. That doesn’t mean they can’t be other arcs or stand-alone stories, but the story can’t be a totally opened-ended tease that will never be concluded (either because the author has/intends no ending, or because the author may die before finishing). I’ve quit reading two very successful sci-fi series that I once liked but now suspect are never intended to have satisfying endings.
2) Each book of a series should have a logical ending. Teasers for the next book should relate to the eventual conclusion, not what happened in the current book.
3) I don’t think it necessary to wrap us ALL loose ends. The universe/reality is more complex than that and a LITTLE frustration is okay. However, hanging threads should leave you curious, not exasperated.
4) Every book in a series doesn’t have to follow a formula. Readers/listeners of Destiny’s Crucible know that the books vary in length more than two-fold and differ in content.
5) I have to “like” at least some of the characters and wouldn’t mind knowing them.
6) Action sequences should be in the realm of the plausible. No main character shooting ten opponents who seem to be shooting blanks. There’s a popular action series where I think the opening scene of the first book is one of the best I’ve every read. When I first read it I thought, “Wow! I want to write like this!” The problem was that the lead character has 3 or 4 such scenes in every book. Very quickly it became “Give me a break!” I have no problem with superhero stories, they’re just not my personal taste.
7) Don’t rush time. Story development has to flow in rational sequence. Joe Colsco arrives on Anyar and is destined to make major impacts. However, it takes time. I read an ebook last year where a human gets shipwrecked on an alien planet where the local civilization is circa 1500. Two months later the main character has introduced steam power and machine guns. Really? I don’t think so. On the other hand, if it takes tens year get that steam power and machine guns, obviously the author can’t take that long. :>)