Six Practical Tips for Writing a Long Series: Guest Post by Y. K. Willemse

Thursday, February 4, 2016

I'm bringing you a guest post today from 22-year-old New Zealand author Y. K. Willemse! Her debut novel, Rafen, was published in 2015, the first of the Fledgling Account series, so I thought it would be awesome to hear her thoughts on writing such an expansive fantasy series. I hope you enjoy reading her insights and advice, and are inspired and encouraged if you're keen to write a series of your own!


When I was six years old, I decided I was going to be an author. I anticipated that by the time I reached twelve, I would have twenty-two books published. When I was ten, I realised I better get started, so I began writing my first book. I had planned to write a series of seven. At age twenty-two, here I am, still going, at last having started on my seventh book. 2015 saw the publication of my first four books by Permuted Press, an offshoot of Simon and Schuster. After signing the contract just shy of twenty-one, I decided I better get ahead. Hence, I wrote books five and six before all the editing revisions for books one to four kicked in.

I’ve discovered that writing a series is so much harder than my six-year-old self ever thought. Here are some things that people never told me:
  1. You will struggle to write the first page every time.
  2. You will eat ridiculous amounts of chocolate and drink way too much coffee.
  3. ’Most everyone who knows you will think you insane.
  4. After you’ve managed book one, you will wonder if you can ever do that again.
  5. Each subsequent book is a harder push, a bigger effort.
  6. You’ll grow immensely, but sometimes only the people in your head notice. But you yourself: you will never be the same.
Just like very few people tell you how to get a book published, very few people offer tips on how to write a series. Hence, I want to give you a few simple points to help you in your journey to write your series, your own magnum opus.

  1. Let that main character drive it.
How does your protagonist grow? What does he want? How do his desires change and mature? If you have a villain, what does he/she want? How do his desires change and become more informed? In a saga, often two characters will be pitted against each other. Their conflict will shape the series. At the very least, your main character will drive each volume by what they want and by what they do. Don’t let your main character become boring, otherwise there’ll be no point writing.

  1. Go with the passion.
If you are not passionate about something, you will struggle to write an essay about it. You will certainly not manage a series. Make sure whatever you are writing, you are highly passionate about it – so passionate that it always seems new. I’ve been working on The Fledgling Account for over a decade, and I’m still excited about it.

  1. Keep writing.
Your passion will ebb away pretty quickly if you’re not feeding it. Read books that inspire you. Watch films that get you thinking. And above all, keep writing. Don’t stop just when your inspiration seems to, because pretty soon, you will have no passion either. A writer has to outlive their inspiration. Be disciplined. Have weekly goals and meet them. It’s easy to get lost on a massive series. Take each day a step at a time and make sure that writing happens.

  1. Keep notes.
Writing a series can get very confusing. You’ll need synopsises of each novel and you’ll certainly need notes on where each book finished off. I always make sure I’ve worked out the date, the season, and everybody’s ages at the end of one book. Then I start a new document and paste all that information at the start of the next book for reference. This means I don’t completely lose my mind when I start the next volume.

  1. Push yourself.
Getting a contract is a wonderful motivation. Don’t wait too long before you try this. Once your first book is in excellent shape, start querying agents or publishers. My previous agent sold the rights to my first four books. She hinted that she wanted to try something like this, so during the time she was querying publishers, I wrote the next three books in the series. I’m glad I did. Push yourself. Aim high. Give yourself a reason to finish. If this doesn’t work, let friends and family read your book. When they start pestering you for a sequel, it will be a good impetus for you.

  1. Don’t give up.
This is a basic, but it can’t be overestimated. Sometimes all one can do is keep holding on, even when it feels like there is no reason to do so. Keep ticking your boxes. Keep doing the daily write. Keep trying to inspire yourself, even if it feels like nothing is working. Sometimes your best work is the result of hard times. One day, you will see the purpose for your travails. There are times when you see that you just won’t see it today. I’m a Christian, so prayer was a huge thing for me. I prayed to the Lord with words of Psalm 90: “Establish the work of our hands, O Lord. Yes, establish the work of our hands”. Don’t give up.

Six points to help you with the writing of a series. Six tips that will keep you holding on. Hang in there. I want to see your books on the shelves.


Thank you, Yvette! You can find Y. K. Willemse's The Fledgling Account series at Amazon and Book Depository, and find out more about the author on Goodreads and at her website,

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