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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 12th day of Celebrating, Yr 19
The Neopian Times Week 91 > Articles > How To Write a Successful Series

How To Write a Successful Series

by stormydreamer

THE DEEP CATACOMBS - Since getting a series published in The Neopian Times, I've received a lot of mail asking how I write the series. So, instead of being not so lazy and replying (Well, I was tired and in need of chocolate at the time…) I decided to write an article highlighting key points to writing a series. (NB: Please note this is based on my experience.)

Point 1: Ideas

Lets called our Author A. Now, A wants to write a series. But how does s/he do it? Well, first off, they need an idea. Some people can just pull an idea out of the sky, but others need to think over this. I'll use my series; The Aisha Thieves, as an example. When I decided to write a series, I wondered hard about what to write. Then, one night, I saw a magic show on the TV, and the idea of thieves that used magic tricks as a distraction. And remember: Always write your ideas down!

But before A can start writing, s/he needs to make sure they have all the facts. If you're writing about Faeries, try to get the facts about the Faerie right, for example, if you're doing an uber fire Faerie, see what sort of clothes she has, what her hairs like, common items for quests etc. Small things like that can make the series better, I've found.

Point 2: Beginning

Now, A has an idea. They've decided to write a series about a young Kougra who goes shopping and buys a possessed toy. And now it's time to write perhaps the most important part of the series, the beginning. This is what draws the attention of the reader, what draws the attention of the editor and what can decide between a good and bad series.

Lets take a paragraph and show how it can be switched between an interesting beginning to a boring one.

Paragraph 1. Fluffy, a white Kougra decided to go to the shops to buy a Chomby Plushie. He went to the Bazaar, and brought one.

Paragraph 1 rewritten. Fluffy, a white Kougra had been saving for months to buy a Chomby Plushie. His owner, who gave him a measly 100nps a month, had watched as he saved all his money for it. He was desperate for his plushie; he'd seen one on sale and fell in love instantly. Finally, he had enough, and, with an air of pride, had walked to the Bazaar, entered the toy shop and brought the Plushie, all the while glad he'd taken the time to save.

As you can see, rewriting a paragraph can draw the attention in much more, and reveal a little bit more of the character. In my personal opinion, I would be far more likely to read a series if it started with the rewritten paragraph in comparison to the first one.

Point 3: Developing the plot

A's finally finished their introduction and explained how Fluffy adored his plushie and why his owner only gave him 100nps a month for pocket money. But now they're stuck - how to develop the plot? Again, in my personal opinion, the first part should be setting the scene, explaining characters and why something is happening. I then try and develop the plot in part two, IE leave part two on a cliffhanger (For example, in part 2, Fluffy discovers the Plushie is evil.)

Another point when developing the plot is too make sure that if you introduce a new character, keep them constant! Nothing is worse than one character (or more) changing suddenly, it destroys what has already been created and can wreck the effect.

My final point for developing the plot would have to be that you should keep to any facts that have already been presented. For example, if you are writing about the Grey Faerie, don't change her name, or try and re-write the facts. Nothing would confuse a reader more is suddenly finding out her name is Louise instead of Baelia!

Point 4: Ending

The ending, what, as the name suggests, ends your series. The ending can make or break a series. An ending can seriously put out a dedicated reader, who's read your entire series from beginning to end. I've decided to write a few do's and don't for endings, based on my personal opinion.

Do:

· Wrap up loose ends. If you have a character stranded on a desert island, don't just leave him/her there to rot. Have a boat find them, or let them be eaten by Mynci's or something. (Just kidding about the Mynci's.) But make sure the loose ends are wrapped up neatly. Nothing's worse than just wondering…

· Make it look like an ending. I know for my series, the Aisha thieves, it gave a cliffhanger sort of ending, but unless you are definitely writing a sequel (Which was my intention at the time,) you need to make it look like an ending.

· Make sure to include the immortal words "The End," at the end - just to add that final touch. I know it's a point almost everyone remembers, but it's a definite do!

Don't:

· Use the old ending, 'And then they wake up and it's all a dream,' ending. Despite being overused, it can really wreck something that's been built up. The same tends to go for the following ending: - The Faerie makes it all better.
- "Cut," Yelled the director. "That's a wrap."
It's generally classed under the endings you write when you don't know how to end a series. Try and think along the lines of originality, and if that fails, ask a friend.

· Forget to check spelling, punctuation and grammar. Granted, we're all human and all (Well, most of us are anyway…) but it's annoying when an obvious spelling mistake or grammatical error sits there on the page taunting you. Get a few friend's to proof read it if possible - for my second series, I had 4 beta's (proof readers.) The more people that read it, the smaller the chance of mistakes falling through.

· Try and wrap everything up in a sentence or two. If it's going to take a lot to wrap up the series, start a new part for it. When everything's made hunky-dory in one or two sentences/paragraphs, people and ideas are forgotten and suddenly perhaps 2 weeks/months work is wasted. Take your time - read over what you've written and make sure nothing's forgotten.

Part 5: Proof reading

Once you've done, proof read it. Print out your series if it helps and read through it, checking for spelling mistakes and parts that don't make all that much sense. Re-write sentences/paragraphs that don't make all that much sense. Ask a few friends if they can too, the more people that check through it, the greater the chance that it will make sense etc.

Finally, all you need to do is send it in to neopiantimes@neopets.com along with your username. Then pray to many Chia gods that your article be published.

I hope this provided some help/entertainment on writing series and any feedback would be much appreciated.

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