Thursday, November 14, 2013

Maisey Yates: Inner Workings of a Multi-Author Series

Hello again, it’s me. I’m back to give you all a little rundown on the inner workings of those great multi-author series Harlequin puts out.

Writing a continuity, like Sicily’s Corretti Dynasty is always an interesting experience. At the very beginning, we’re given a Bible with an overarching plotline, and which plot points will need to be hit upon in each book.

Beyond that, there are brief outlines provided to each author giving them the basic premise of the book. Then there are tables with the height, hair color, eye color, body type, etc, of every character that will appear over the course of the series, for the convenience of every author involved.

I think because we’re given this information people often think that it’s easier to do than starting from scratch. Well…yes and no. Yes, in terms of the fact that you don’t have to name your characters (which is time consuming!) but no. Actually, mainly no.  J

The outline of the book, which gives the basic set up for the plot, a bit of character background and names, is often what I start with when I go to write a book that came entirely from the gritty recesses of my tortured mind. But that’s only the beginning, and I mean that!

Those are the foundational components to a book, and they’re necessary, but they’re not the sum total of the book. Like the framework of a house, these things are essential to the house standing, but they aren’t what make the house beautiful, or unique, or interesting.

I’ve learned there’s always something deeper. Something that goes beyond those basic ingredients.

In the case of Matteo and Alessia in A Hunger For the Forbidden there was a whole lot more. And that’s where the serious challenge comes in for these types of projects.

It’s easy to get distracted by the set up. (not just in continuities!) To think that you have every piece of building material you need once you have those things in order,  but there’s always more.

There are layers to a story, layers to character. And to really bring those layers out you have to go deeper than that initial framework and really bring out the good stuff.

In the case of Matteo, I knew his background. I knew he felt guilty about an event in his past, but as I was writing, so much of it didn’t ring true, and I knew that I’d missed a step. The question I hadn’t asked was: WHY did he feel so guilty? Because his actions, which had ultimately saved Alessia from a terrible fate, were justified. So I knew there was more.

I knew I had to dig deeper than the events that I’d imagined would be important, and go back further in his life, not simply to the one defining event, but to events before it, so that I understood why this one had impacted him the way that it did.

And so it went.

Continuities, like all writing, require an author to dig deep and really explore all angles of the character. And if the outlines were switched around among the authors, I don’t think any of us would write the same book, because we would arrive at our conclusions in a completely different way.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the places I took Matteo in A Hunger For the Forbidden, it’s out in December and includes a bonus book in the back, never before published in the states, The Highest Price to Pay.

Until then…happy reading!


Pat Cochran said...

Thanks for your explanation, I've often wondered how several
authors could write connected stories and keep everything on
a relatively even keel!

Pat C.

Maisey said...

:) Thanks for the comment Pat! It's a fun and somewhat complex process!