May 09

Series Writing – Charting the Details

Writing a children's series.

Writing a series can be rewarding and also challenging.

Think about it.

With a single chapter book, middle grade, or young adult, you need to keep track of all the details.

With a series, there’s a lot more to keep track of.

Linda Wilson has a helpful article on charting the details of your series:

The Challenge is in the Details

Begin your children’s book series by creating worksheets to keep track of the details. This will help avoid the pitfalls of time spent having to flip back to previous books for small (or large) details that may have escaped you. Preparing your series worksheets isn’t much different than keeping track of the details for each of your writing projects. To accomplish this for each individual book project:

  • Keep a separate notebook for each book.
  • In each notebook, preferably during the first stage, create a chart of the following important information. This will take time but will be worth it. The information will be at your fingertips to tweak as you go along, and also to use for school visits, your blog, etc.

These are the categories you should have:

  • Age group
  • Genre
  • Verb tense
  • Point of View
  • Mood or tone
  • Setting
  • Time span
  • Character list, role played in your story and profiles
  • Theme
  • List of Scenes or contents of chapters
  • Concept sentence
  • Why you wrote your book
  • Where your idea came from
  • Research: what you researched, what file it’s kept in, sources you’ve cited
  • Books by other authors that are similar to your book or that you used as models
  • A list of your favorite authors, your favorite books and the authors’ bios

Ideas on how to Organize your Series

Keep a separate section or separate notebook if you’ve created a series. A series organizational chart can contain information similar to the charts for your books.

  • Series title
  • Genre
  • List of characters and how this list changes from book to book
  • How the books tie together
  • How your characters grow and change as the series progresses
  • Series timeline
  • Settings
  • Keep track of the series books you’ve read and notes you’ve taken
  • Most important: write down how your series will end
  • Also: keep track of special information pertaining to your story, such as in my MG mystery, the chapter(s) and page numbers of when the ghost appears.

Join the Fun

One of the most fun parts of writing a series for me has been reading popular and well-loved series by other authors.

  • Take notes on the books you’ve read and on how the series is connected.
  • Note who the mc is and how the mc changes and grows
  • Are there new characters introduced? Which ones stay the same in each book?

What’s so intriguing is the difference in how the books are connected from series to series. In the Stepping Stones series of chapter books about ghosts by Marion Dane Bauer, each book has different mc’s and characters; the connection is that each book is about a ghost-of-a-different-color: The Blue Ghost, The Green Ghost, The Red Ghost, The Golden Ghost. And the delightful Princess in Black series by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale, in which sweet Princess Magnolia must handle a monster problem when her glitter-stone ring rings. Out bursts the Princess in Black for her next adventure, which is different in each book.

When I first realized that two of my projects could become series I was intimidated. But, after studying the nature of series writing I’ve come to realize that planning is key, as it is for the creation of any book, either right from the start or the plans emerge sometime during the revision stage. I plan to avoid as many pitfalls as possible by following the advice of authors who have shared their expertise and experiences. I hope this information will help you, too.

About the Author

Linda Wilson, a former elementary teacher and ICL graduate, has published over 100 articles for adults and children, and six short stories for children. Recently, she completed Joyce Sweeney’s online fiction courses, picture book course and mystery and suspense course. She has currently finished her first book, a mystery/ghost story for 7-11 year-olds, and is in the process of publishing it and moving on to new writing projects. Follow Linda on Facebook.

This article was originally published at: https://www.writersonthemove.com/2016/11/series-writers-chart-details-part-3.html

Children's ghostwriter

Let me take a look at your notes, outline, or draft. I’m a working children’s ghostwriter, rewriter, and coach. I can turn your story into a book that you’ll be proud to be author of.

Shoot me an email at: kcioffiventrice@gmail.com (please put Children’s Ghostwriter in the Subject line). Or, you can give me a call at 834—347—6700

Let’s get your story in publishable shape today!

Or, if you’d rather give it a shot and do-it-yourself, check out my book, HOW TO WRITE A CHILDREN’S FICTION BOOK.

MORE ON WRITING FOR CHILDREN

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Be a Successful Writer Even if You Don’t Think You Have Enough Time

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May 02

Children’s Author – 5 Must-Haves for a Successful Book

There are a number of elements and strategies an author needs to write and publish a successful children’s book. This article covers five of them.

While success can mean different things to different people, to me a successful book is one that kids will love to read and hopefully learn from. A book that subtly leaves a lingering message which is considered the take-away-value. And, just as important, the book meets the standard industry guidelines.

A successful book is one that you’ll be proud to be author of.

Let’s go over the five children’s author must-haves.

  1. A quality children’s book.

Very first think is to write a quality book. But, how do you do you do this?

Anything worthwhile doing is worth doing right. So, to write a quality book, you should take the time to learn how to write a story.

There’s enough information online information, courses, and workshops to learn the process.

The basics are to be sure it has a beginning, a middle, and an end. It should have engaging characters. The protagonist should grow in some way. And, it should have a take-away-value.

There’s also editing and proofreading. You can self-edit and proofread and/or you get it professionally done to make sure what you missed gets found and corrected.

One of the best ways to know if you’re on the right track is to read recently published books major publishers and in your genre. Dissect them. Figure out why they work.

Another aspect of a quality book is to have if professionally formatted.

  1. A great book cover.

The first thing a reader will see is the cover of your book, and it’s usually the cover that will draw the reader to the book. Along with this, it’s usually the cover that will motivate the reader to buy the book.

Don’t skimp in this area. Get a professional cover. It’s definitely worth the investment.

If your budget allows, look for a professional illustrator or designer. A professional cover can be anywhere from $200 to $450, possibly more.

There are also a number of publishing services that offer book cover templates and if this is all your budget allows, be sure you can tweak it to make it unique.

You don’t want the same cover that thousands of other books have.

If you’re traditionally publishing, you won’t need to worry about a book cover.

  1. Professional illustrations.

Have you seen self-published picture books and wondered how the author could use substandard illustrations? This goes for picture books, chapter books, and any other genre that you’ll have illustrations.

You can have an awesome story, but if the illustrations stink, you’ve degraded your book.

Ask around for qualified illustrators or do an online search. Be sure to look at samples and pay attention to the people.

I give my clients a list of illustrators who my other clients have vetted.

What I’m noticing lately is some illustrators are great at inanimate objects and animals, and even fantasy characters, but their people characters are poor quality.

They have the same positions or facial expressions with very minor tweaks. Or, the people characters will lack movement.

Be careful. Do your research and find a professional illustrator.

Good illustrations can run from $90 to $350 per interior illustration – sometimes more.

And, be sure you own the rights to the illustrations.

  1. The ISBN

You should have an ISBN if you intend to sell your book through retailers.

The International Standard Book Number is needed for print books and identifies your book. It’s required by most retailers.

It provides the retailers with the edition, the publisher, the format, and metadata for your book. This all helps readers find your book.

The 13-digit number is unique to each book and is placed on the back of your book by the book designer. It will be in the form of a barcode.

  1. The LCCN.

The Library of Congress Control Number allows libraries all over the U.S. to categorized your book, if they’re interested in it.

Having your book in the library system is a big deal, and getting a number is free. It’s kind of a no-brainer.

  1. An author website.

It seems a lot of new authors don’t think they need an author website.

Truth is, you do.

Think of it as your online personal address. Social media pages are not the same.

It’s where you’ll bring traffic to, and it’s where you’ll build your email subscriber list to help sell your books.

You can even sell your books through your author website.

To find out why the author website is so important, check this out:
The Author Website – Do You Really Need One?

There are other important must-haves for a successful book, but these are some of the basics.

And always remember to add metadata (descriptions, keywords, categories) where ever you can. Always think marketing.

Children's ghostwriter

Whether you need help with children’s ghostwriting or rewriting, or coaching, let me take a look at your children’s story. Just send me an email at: kcioffiventrice@gmail.com. Please put “Children’s Writing” in the Subject box.
Or, give me a call at 347—834—6700.

Let’s get your idea off the launch pad or your outline into a publishable story today!

Or, if you’d rather give it a shot and do-it-yourself, check out my book, HOW TO WRITE A CHILDREN’S FICTION BOOK.

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