Why I Love a Good Series

When I think back to all of the books I’ve enjoyed thus far in my life, many titles come to mind. And while I love a good single title, it strikes me that I am far more likely to be moved and remember a book long after I finish reading it when it’s part of a series. There are lots of reasons for this, I’m sure. For me, I think that it comes down both to the characters and the world.

The Characters

The amount of time I spend with the characters is one reason I am able to immerse myself into a series. Simply spending twelve hours instead of three in the mind of one character I really enjoy is bound to be more likely to leave a lasting impression. Characters are, in my opinion, the single most powerful thing about books. Even when series follow different characters in each book, it still gives you a happy little charge when you see prior point of view characters making a cameo.

The World

But characters aren’t the only benefit of a series. The world is another. As a teenager I was obsessed with Mercedes Lackey’s Valdemar series. While I haven’t read them in over a decade, I still remember many of the characters and the worldbuilding.

These books encompassed a world over several generations. Some of the characters crossed over from one series to the next, but that wasn’t always the case. However, I knew the world so well that it was practically a character in and of itself. I could rely on the Heralds of Valdemar to be good, and whatever wizard happened to be read to invade the lands to be bad. Even when the series journeyed beyond the lands readers were most familiar with, the books were still familiar, the world still the same. I could rely on all of the rules and history that the author set up in prior books.

So readers, do you prefer a series or standalones? Why?

Writing Tools

Many people are able to sit down at their computer, open MS Word (or something similar), and write and revise a book. Some even start with a notebook, writing the whole thing in longhand before transferring it to a computer. Some would say that this is all that is needed, and that anything else is simply a distraction from what we should be doing: writing.

I am not one of those people.

Certain things are a distraction from my writing. Twitter. The AbsoluteWrite forums. YouTube. My cats. I mean, just look at that picture. I am a relatively new Mac user so I haven’t found the games yet, but if I do I’m sure they’ll distract me too (or more likely, be deleted). But the tools I’m going to talk about in this post have helped me be a better writer, or at least a more organized and focused writer. I still use Word for final edits, and Excel for some planning, but I also use the following programs.

Scrivener

This program is the Gold Standard by which all other writers programs should be judged, in my opinion. Its corkboard feature allows for free movement of scenes and chapters. The corkboard and binders also make looking at your manuscript at a higher level much easier. For example, if I need to check to make sure two rotating POV character get equal time, I can label or color code the scenes so I know how I’m doing with a quick glance. I also use colors to tell me the types of edits I’ve done to each scene (read-aloud, kindle, printed, etc.). And the research section allows me to put information and pictures into the file, so I don’t have to hunt things down.

Mac Freedom

Despite its name, the Freedom app for the Mac (there is a PC version too) actually restricts your freedom by taking away your Internet connection for a period of time that you set. However, this restriction does give you the freedom to really focus on your work. And boy, did I need help focusing. I didn’t realize it. In fact, before trying this app, I would have said that I am a very focused writer. However, on the recommendation of a friend, I gave Freedom a shot. Within the first couple of minutes, I was trying to cmd+tab to check my twitter. I don’t even want to hazard a guess as to how many times I tried to check my email in the measly 30 minutes I initially set it to. This is been such a powerful tool for me and I wholeheartedly recommend it. Does this mean I have the natural focus of a squirrel? Maybe, but that’s okay because Freedom keeps me focused.

Write or Die

The Write or Die program lets you set a word or time goal, and it makes angry noises and flashes a red screen if you pause writing for too long before you hit your goal. I don’t use this program as often as the others, but when I need to get that initial jump into writing for the day, I find it very helpful. Usually after one or two 10 minute rounds, I’m into the zone and don’t need to use it again that day (or that writing session, at least).

 

Do you have any programs you use that you would recommend to other writers? Anything that would kill your productivity if you didn’t have it around?

Blogging Ideas

So I’ve been intending for—well let’s just a say for a while now—to start writing more on my blog. To be more active, make more connections, write about all the interesting things I think of or observe throughout the day.

But then I get busy, I get distracted, I’m too tired to remember anything interesting happening to me that day, week, month, or ever. So I’ve decided to start brainstorming ideas, treating it like the plot of a novel. Asking myself “What if?” and “Why?” questions and hoping something sounds interesting.

I’m not entirely certain how interesting my posts will be, but I’m hoping for the best, and I’m committing to writing here at least once a week. I’m quite sure that, like fiction, once I get into the habit of writing regularly, the words will flow much more easily.

How do you come up with your blogging ideas?