Commiting Series: Saying Goodbye

Catie MurphyCatie Murphy

So you’ve written a million or so words in lead-up and now you’re at the end of the series. The last book. The grand finale. You’ve spent hundreds, even thousands, of hours with these characters, plotting and twisting your way through their lives.

How the heck do you say goodbye?

More than that, even: how do you make it worthy? How do you pay off a million words of build-up, a decade of putting stories out there and (hopefully!) having people ask for more? How do you create something *satisfying* at the end of all that, something that will leave you, your characters and your readers all saying, “Yeah. Yeah, that was how it should have ended. That was right.”?

My God, it’s not easy.

For me…for me it’s generally about balance, and with the Walker Papers and Joanne, who began the story badly unbalanced, it’s [...]

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Gin and Tonic For Everyone!


Happy book birthday, L. A. Kornetsky (otherwise known as the fabulous Laura Anne Gilman!) To celebrate, LAG is giving away a copy of DOGHOUSE to a commenter (randomly chosen by the traditional means of Oracular Cat)! Don’t forget to say hello after you finish reading, for your shot at winning a book!


Tomorrow’s the day! DOGHOUSE is out for walkies, er, on the shelves! On the street! In your eager hands! (I hope).

So let me tell you a little about this series.

*Enters wayback machine*

Three years ago, the editor who had acquired the Vineart War trilogy came to me and said, (summing up) “most of your fantasy books are also mysteries. You ever think about writing a straight mystery?”

And I said… “well, actually, um…yeah.”

(I may have been doing a quiet, hopeful chair dance on my end of the line because oh jinkies yes.)

“And could [...]

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Joshua Palmatier — Plot: Losing Control


SHATTERING THE LEY: Plot: Losing Control

Welcome to my third guest post about my new novel, SHATTERING THE LEY (in stores now)! Again, thanks to Magical Words for inviting me.

As you may have read in my previous post about character, I’m an organic writer, sometimes also called a pantser. What this means is that I don’t have much of a plan when I sit down to write my novels. Usually I have a few “guideposts”—basically a couple of plot elements that I think are going to happen (usually something about halfway through and something at the end). But when I sit down to write, I let the characters take control. Most of the time, the characters end up in situations close to those initial guideposts. But sometimes . . . not so much.

That “not so much” happened with SHATTERING THE LEY. Almost as soon as I sat down [...]

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Jennifer Estep — A New Book Is Born


Hello! So today, I’m excited to talk about Poison Promise, the 11th book in my Elemental Assassin urban fantasy series that comes out on Tuesday, July 22.

I’m always a little nervous on release day. I’ve spent months working on a book, and it is finally out there for folks to read. As a writer, you always want people to enjoy your books, and you are always striving to write the absolute best story that you can with every single book you produce. So I want all my hard work to pay off for a fun, entertaining read for folks.

But writing a series can be a little tricky. You want to give fans of the series what they’ve come to expect. In the case of my Elemental Assassin series, that would be lots of time spent with Gin, Finn, and the other characters, some deliciously evil bad guys, and [...]

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D. B. Jackson: On Plotting — Keeping Things Fresh


Last week I began the discussion of keeping books and story lines fresh as we move through a series, by talking about character, and in particular shaking up familiar dynamics between (among) two (or more) characters. I focused my post on the core relationship found in the Thieftaker books: the rivalry between my hero, thieftaker and conjurer Ethan Kaille, and his nemesis, the brilliant, deadly, and beautiful Sephira Pryce. The basic dynamics of their relationship had long since been established in the first two books of the Thieftaker Chronicles, Thieftaker and Thieves’ Quarry. Now, in the third book of the series, A Plunder of Souls, which was released a week ago today, I fundamentally altered those dynamics by introducing a new adversary for Ethan, Captain Nate Ramsey, who antagonized Sephira and forced her into an unlikely alliance with Ethan.

But there are other ways to keep a storyline fresh, even [...]

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Talking to Myself for Fun and Profit



Welcome back Laura Anne Gilman (aka L A Kornetsky)!

We all work differently. The first time I heard someone say that they sat down and worked out all the aspects of a character, deciding who they would be and how they’d act [and, in at least one case, using an actual CHART], I suspect my jaw fell open, not only in surprise, but utter envy.

“Oh god,” I was thinking. “How? How do you do that? Teach me your dark ways!”

Because I? Am totally not in control of my characters, not even for a minute. Plot, yes. Setting, absolutely. But characters?

First, there is a voice. It may be quiet, or strident. It may not yet have an accent, or a particular point to make. But there is a very definite voice. Hi, it says. I’m here, where should I stand?

Oh hi there, I say in [...]

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Joshua Palmatier — Character: Taking Control


SHATTERING THE LEY: Character: Taking Control

Welcome to my second guest post here at Magical Words! Thanks again for having me, guys.

I’d like to focus on characters, now that the main promo push is over. (You did run out and buy SHATTERING THE LEY, right?) As I said in the previous post, when I described the setting for LEY, having a great idea or setting isn’t enough for a story. The world of LEY had been simmering inside my head for quite a while, but it’s necessary to take that cool idea and make it come alive with the intervention of some cool characters. For this world, I knew that one of the main characters would have to be someone who could manipulate the ley lines that powered the city. If that’s the central element that makes my world different, I needed someone who would be working intimately [...]

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