A note about writing series


I posted this as an answer about series writing over on sfnovelists.com, but I wanted to post it here as well, so it would be, among other things, easier for me to find.


I currently have two worlds in progress, and they’re very structurally different. The first, the DAW books I write as Michelle West, aren’t really self-contained, and they’re certainly not short. I started those in 1994, and have continued to write them, and for me? They’re not finished yet. They don’t have an ending. I had envisioned a number of ending arcs, emotionally, for a large cast of characters– but I am only approaching the end of one of many character arcs in the newest set of books; the end of the six book series, The Sun Sword brought one of the key characters to the midpoint of the arc I’d envisioned for her before I ever mentioned her on the page.


Because I’m not finished, I don’t have that sense of restless frustration one has when there’s nothing new to experience or explore. Because I know where it’s going (if not always how it’s going to get there), what’s happening in the present of the book resonates with the ending I see in the distance, and it moves me. It probably bores a lot of people, though.


The novels I write for Luna books, as Michelle Sagara, I envisioned as more episodic (in the Buffy sense). And as I reach the end of each one of those books, I’m finished. I’m done with the story; I’ve said what I had to say. There’s more to say – there is an overarching season-arc, to borrow the Buffy analogy again – but I want to start saying the new stuff now. I want to explore other corners of the world, other races, other crimes. The world is both broader and less detailed, and that was intentional – because if it wasn’t, I thought I would lose steam, lose the sense of the immediate and the new that comes with exploring new terrain.


And when I reach the end of the longer arc, I want to be done. I will have run out of things to say at that point. And while I know people will prefer one book over the others, I don’t want them to feel that I’m phoning in my lines; I don’t want them to feel that I should have stopped, and just kept spinning in place. 

8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Sue Ivey
    Mar 28, 2008 @ 18:17:57

    Keep up the great work. I have really enjoyed all your books, especially the Sun Sword series. After having read The Hidden City, I went back and reread the Sun Sword series. Of all the ‘series writers’I follow, I have found that each of your books equal or surpass themselves, in my eyes at least.
    Thanks again for your wonderful books.


  2. Michelle
    Mar 29, 2008 @ 01:16:14

    Thank you =D


  3. bonnie h
    May 19, 2008 @ 23:10:09

    I wanted to know if you did signings in canada.


  4. Michelle
    May 20, 2008 @ 02:13:20

    I don’t generally travel specifically for signings anywhere, so most of the signings I do will be at conventions that I’m attending. That said, I still work at the bookstore, and I’ll sign anything there if you visit while I’m working :)


  5. Gretchen
    Aug 07, 2008 @ 18:31:47

    I am really enjoying the ‘Cast In’ series. I hope that you expand this most interesting world. I love the hints of the history of the Dragon Wars and the older beings before them. Looking forward to Cast In Fury.
    thank you,


  6. Carrie
    Oct 08, 2008 @ 06:30:53

    I love the Elantran series- I am re-reading them (third time?) to follow the arcs. Book Four and I have still found no signs that you are “phoning it in”. FWIW, I have far more questions about the characters backstories than ever before. I have a deep need to know about those six months in the Barrens. How Severn got those scars. What has he seen as a shadow wolf. What are the wolves? I need to meet the Wolflord. Who is Teela and why is she a hawk? How is she a rebel. And precisely who is Tain. I need to know more about the Aerians. And, of course, I have to live long enough to figure out what Nightshade is up to and is she his Erenne (and of course what that means) as well as Kaylin’s meeting with the Emperor. Will the whole story cycle end with him simply swallowing her whole? Old Ones-Schmold Ones. They can wait. I love your books and my highest compliment is that you are still world building, in each of your books, and it is seamless with the tale you are telling. I don’t know if it is a construct but that the tale is about the magic which resides within or is tied to a particular people which lets the story and the new laws of the story move forward.

    Here are the fan requests: Please, I really want Severn’s story. I would also love to read about hoarde laws. I’m a lawyer and I really want to incorporate that into my mindset.

    Thank you for your boooks, they bring me a lot of pleasure.- Carrie


  7. Michelle
    Oct 08, 2008 @ 22:28:15

    The next book, in some part, deals with the missing six months of Kaylin’s life (it’s Cast in Silence, and is the novel I’m writing now), so hopefully that will contain some answers — and I do want to do a book about the Wolves, or involving the Wolves, in the future as well.

    In fact, I kind of want to write about everything, which makes it hard not to throw in the kitchen sink sometimes…


  8. Wui Wui
    Jan 17, 2009 @ 14:30:32

    Hello. Love all your books. Very super ‘kan cheong’ (Chinese for very, very anxious) for your latest in both the Cast Series as well as Jay! All the best!!


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