Guest Blogger: Brenda Whiteside – Where do you begin When Writing a Series?

Where Do You Begin Writing a Series? by Brenda Whiteside

At a recent book signing, I was asked where do you begin when writing a series. The truth is, every writer probably has their own method. I’m in the process of writing my second series. I say process because I learned from writing my first, The Love and Murder Series, that creating a set of linked stories should be a process. Currently, I’m planning three books which will each have their own unique romantic thriller plot, but there will also be an arc for the three books. While each book will leave the reader satisfied with the story, by the end of the third book, the trilogy will reach its own conclusion and satisfy the reader.

When I wrote The Love and Murder Series, I didn’t think that far ahead. There are five books in the series. Each book was a spinoff of the first book, The Art of Love and Murder. While I am happy with how the series turned out, ecstatic with the reviews and readers comments, I had to work a little harder to gel the series in the end because I didn’t think ahead. On the other hand, I had a lot of fun letting the characters from book one demand their own story.

The Power of Love and Murder, book four, came as a result of a minor character in The Art. She was introduced as Penny, but the heroine, Lacy, nicknamed her The Black Fairy because of her penchant for all things black in her clothing. She wore fun stuff, too, such as lace gloves and tiaras. Little did I know when we met her in book one that she was living under an assumed name and feared for her life.

But Penny was only one inspiration for The Power of Love and Murder. Years ago, my brother told us a story of a miserable night in a cheap hotel when he was broke and trying to get from one job to another. As sorry as that story was, we had to laugh. I knew I’d use it someday in a novel. When you read The Power of Love and Murder, you’ll recognize the scene.

Since the holidays are drawing near, The Power of Love and Murder can fit in with holiday reading, too: This Christmas, Penny Spark’s desire to reconnect with family causes her to expose her true identity—a secret she’s hidden for thirteen years from the political powers who murdered her family.

So, where do you begin when writing a series? Decide the kind of series, give some thought to how many books might come out of your ideas, and think ahead. I also keep copious files on each character (everything from eye color to the car they drive), a detailed historical timeline (could even go back a few decades or centuries), location research, event timeline, and any other pertinent files unique to the series.


Brenda Whiteside is the author of suspenseful, action-adventure romance. Mostly. She signed her first book contract in 2009. After living in six states and two countries—so far—she and her husband have decided they are gypsies at heart. After three years on a small farm in northern Arizona, they retired to their RV to think about their next move. They share their home with a rescue dog named Amigo. While FDW is fishing, Brenda writes stories of discovery and love entangled with suspense.

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18 thoughts on “Guest Blogger: Brenda Whiteside – Where do you begin When Writing a Series?”

  1. Thanks for writing this Blog. It’s very informative. I’ve been toying with the idea of writing a series, but I was a bit intimidated and didn’t know where to start. You’ve helped immensely.

  2. A series is hard, especially when you don’t plan for it (like me!). Good points, though, and ones I hope to keep in mind in the future. I love Penny! Good luck with the book and the series.

  3. Jennifer, like you, I wasn’t a future series planner… but once the Sarah Blair series sold three and then two more (recently signed), I realized the pitfalls Brenda points out is where I’m having to be careful not to step. She makes some excellent points for all of us to think about as we write and pitch in the future.

  4. Terrific tips, Brenda. I haven’t tried a true integrated series, although my medieval stories are under a general umbrella of name that include a variety of heroes tied by a common thread. So I don’t have to worry about all the really tough parts of keeping arcs straight 🙂 Good luck on your next series, by the way!

    1. Barbara, The Love and Murder Series is similar to your method. My people all know each other or are related and the love and murder takes place in the same setting for the most part. The series I’m working on now will also be stand alone stories, but there will be a series arc. Wish me luck!

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