Friday, September 7, 2012

Writing Series: The Path to The End

Writing Series: The Path to The End
Guest Post by Patti Larsen

I love writing series. LOVE. I’m able to pen good flash fiction, short stories even. But my passion is for the long tale-telling, the expansive and epic adventure characters lead you on at times. I think it comes from my younger reading days, raised on science fiction and fantasy by my Dungeon Master father.

When I started journalism in college, I learned about the importance of a lead, or knowing and being able to distill an idea down into a single sentence. The repetition of this skill, learned over many news stories, helped me understand how important it was to see where I was going before I began to write.

That year was the first time I outlined a novel. A full trilogy, in fact. I’ve not returned to them, that fantasy tale about horses and nomads and banished princes, but the seed of the idea of outlining was sown.

From there I dove into another series, also fantasy, nine books alternating character points of view. I was on to something, I could tell. But at that time, sadly, I listened to the critics who told me I couldn’t, I wasn’t good enough. I gave up writing and forgot completely what I’d learned about telling stories from front to back.

Script writing came next, years later. I loved turning ideas into films, following the three act structure from exciting start to climactic finish, from page to screen. TV show pilots and independent flicks taught me to tear a story apart before I told it, to break it down into its most important pieces and to always, always know exactly what it was about just in case I had thirty seconds in an elevator to make my pitch.

When I found YA and finally realized I was meant to be telling stories for young adults, I returned not only to the joy of writing books, but to the idea of knowing where the timeline went before I wrote a word. Everything from my past experiences fell together into one simple, totally logical format.

I’m now an outlining fanatic and most often will completely structure a series before I write a word of prose. Not only am I able to tell great individual stories, but linking together all the hints and foreshadows and hidden moments of pure pleasure for my eager readers comes from having a firm grasp on what I’m doing right from word one.

Currently I’m working on the remaining twelve (you read that right) books (four at a time) in an extraordinary twenty volume jaunt about a teen witch who wants to be like normal kids. That’s the other part I love so much about series—I’m family, now. I know the characters as well as my own sisters and parents. The stories come easily, the connections as clear as the ah-ha moments I have every time I sit down to think about Syd and what’s coming next.

So, let me ask you a question: if you’re a reader, does it bug you when a novelist misses something in book three you remembered (and loved) from book one? And if you’re a writer, do you know how your series ends?  

About the Author: Patti Larsen is an award-winning middle grade and young adult author with a passion for the paranormal. Her YA thriller series, The Hunted, is available now. Book one of that series, RUN, is a recent recipient of the 2012 PEI Book Awards for Fiction. Seven books of her very popular Hayle Coven Novels, beginning with Family Magic, are also out now. Her YA steampunk series, Blood and Gold, can be found on Amazon, along with her YA paranormal novel, Best Friends Forever, and The Diamond City Trilogy. Her middle grade novel, The Ghost Boy of MacKenzie House (Acorn Press), is available now. She is a full time writer and a part time teacher of her Get Your Book Done program. Patti lives on the East Coast of Canada with her very patient husband and four massive cats. 

Find out more at, on Twitter, and Facebook.

This is part of a sort of regular feature that I try to post each Friday about various topics related to writing and publishing. If you would like to do a guest post, please contact me.

Most recent: 10 Ways YA Novels Leave You Totally Unprepared to be an Actual Adult by Donna Gambale. Click here to see previous posts. 


  1. Thank you so much for having me here, you Krazy Book Lady, you :) Always a huge pleasure!

  2. Sometimes a author touches on something in a book I'm dying to find out and never explains the mystery at the end of the series. I could scratch my eyes out when that happens. Its always good to document things that happen or you know is popular with your book that you may not have ever thought you'd have to explain. Patti is a fantastic writer and I won't ever have to worry when she mentions something it won't go unanswered. I love this post.



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