Tag Archives: Building a Series

Growing the Story


This week, Growing the Story. Most stories, including romance, grow around conflict. Conflict occurs when one character is at odds with the objectives of another character or force. Conflicts within the story create tension and interest, especially when the resolution of the conflict is in doubt. Who wants to read a story where a couple meet, fall in love at first sight, marry, and live happily ever after.

Conflict within the story may be internal or external for one or more character(s). In romance, one element of conflict is resolved when two (or more) characters achieve a happily-ever-after or, in the case of some erotic romance and erotica, a happily-ever-after-for-now ending. The romantic hero/heroine’s internal conflict may relate to meeting the expectations of society, loss of freedom/lifestyle through marriage, whether this is “the one,” or making a relationship a success. The external conflict in the romance occurs when the couple resolves their relationship conflicts to achieve their happily-ever-after. The external conflict of the romance may involve other individuals or situations around the couple.

Other conflicts revolve around the setting in which the romance occurs. Whether a high-tech office, a Regency soirée, or a medieval battlefield, secondary conflicts keep the readers’ interest and provide an opportunity for the writer to enrich the characters and show them in other contexts, so that the story goes beyond a simple romance to bring about a satisfying ending.

In my new erotic romance series, Cupid’s Back in Business, Teddy and Diana, who met on Aphrodite’s Island in Her Teddy Bare and achieved a happily-ever-after-for-now, return to New York to consider a more permanent relationship. Teddy in real life is a billionaire real estate investor and much more. The gym/spa where he first saw Diana occupies the bottom floors of his multi-story business/home. His first task will be to convince author/artist Diana to move in, so he can pursue his permanent courtship with the love of his life. Both will be constants throughout the series. More about them next week.

A note – I HATE cliffhanger endings. Whether as a reader or a writer, I want a SATISFYING ending. There is nothing satisfying about buying a book and reading it through only to discover that you must buy another book to discover the ending, if then. To me, it’s a cheat and should come with a warning. There’ll be no cliffhanger romances in Cupid’s Back in Business or anything else I write.

Next Week, Developing the Characters


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Building a Series: Building the World


The next element in building a story/series is “Building the World.” Authors can take free rein with their imaginations when creating a world. Based on the intended theme, they can fill it with their own visions, values, beliefs, and prejudices or craft a totally different reality in the future or in a different world.

Regardless of what is being created, certain questions common to all societies and cultures must be addressed by the author to make the story believable. What is the society’s explanation of the world? Where did they come from (origins)? Where are they heading (the future)? What should they do (ethics and values)? How should they attain our goals? What is true and false (knowledge)?


In my series, tentatively named “Cupid’s Back in Business,” billionaire real estate developer Theodore C. Bareston III has a secret identity that he’s kept hidden for centuries. In Her Teddy Bare, he convinces Diana Harper that she should give love another chance – with him, of course. In Conquering Cupid, the first story in “Cupid’s Back in Business,” while he courts Diana after they return to New York City, Teddy is moved to embrace his past which lies buried in ancient Greece. But Diana is no fool and a series of “guest” visits raises doubts about her new boyfriend who is reticent to answer her questions. Finally, shadows from her past may imperil her future with Teddy.

As the plot develops and conflicts emerge some of the questions about the world will be answered. It’s not necessary to answer all the questions, especially all at once. No one wants an information dump. Snippets of the world can be delivered in later books. In scifi/fantasy, my favorite series is McCaffrey’s Pern series – a masterful creation of an entire world and culture. Do you have a favorite series?

Next week, Developing the Characters



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Building a Series: SETTING THE THEME


This week in Building a Story/Series, we’ll focus on setting the theme. Why set the theme first? Whether we’re looking at an individual story or a series, setting the theme is a critical component in the development of a story/series. The theme provides the cohesive underpinning for the world that we build, the characters that we develop, and the stories that we grow.

No! No! Some assert that the characters are the center of the story. Others claim that the plot is the end-all of the story. Au contraire, I say. The theme provides the guide for the world we build, how the characters behave and how the story unfolds (plot). Without a theme, stories become disjointed collections of scenes that muddle through to an unsatisfying haphazard ending.

So, what’s a theme? The theme of a book/series is the universal idea or message that stretches throughout the entire story or series. It is often a lesson about life or people. There’s a long list of themes that run throughout stories. Non-romance stories can address many themes–coming of age, fate and free will, necessity for change of power, emptiness of attaining false dreams, good versus bad, greed as downfall, identity crisis, injustice, or materialism as downfall. There are dozens more.

The overriding theme for romance stories is achieving happily-ever-afters (HEAs) or happily for now (HFN). As an aside, I must admit that I need an HEA for a satisfactory conclusion with everlasting love conquering the transitory hookup any day. Romances, regardless of the subgenre, have additional themes. Examples include convention and rebellion, dangers of ignorance, disillusionment and dreams, male and female roles, the heartbreak of betrayal, finding inner strength, losing hope, desire to survive, loss of innocence or love, love and sacrifice, and conquering fear or weakness or adversity.

NewObsessionCover180 x270At one of the conferences I attended, a presenter asserted that authors have preferred themes that predominate their writing which are based on their personal histories. Can’t say that’s always true, but I choose to write stories about conquering adversity to achieve goals. I’m a confirmed optimist who believes in putting the past behind you so you won’t break your neck tripping over opportunities in the present or future. Maybe a more positive way of stating that is embracing the future. What say you?

IntoThe LyonsDen-EBOOK180X281In my first historical, His Obsession (Siren BookStrand, 2012), Emeliese Alexander is kidnapped and sold into slavery in the pirate republic of Bou Regreg. Believing the man she loves is responsible, Emeliese chooses life in a pirate’s harem to survive. The cost is dealing with the heartbreak of betrayal, even after she is rescued and – years later – her husband convinces her of his innocence. In my first paranormal, Into the Lyons’ Den (Champagne, 2012), Marie Maxwell discovers her shapeshifter heritage and – despite her go-it-alone and use-then-discard lovers attitude – finds herself attracted to an aggravating man who is the alpha of the shapeshifting clan.

For the new series, I’ve chosen “walking the paths less taken in search of happily-every-afters” as the underlying theme (and maybe the tagline or shortened to “walking the paths less taken”). Each story will feature individuals who depart from the mundane mediocrity of their current lives to embark on journeys along paths less taken. Not all of the paths will be easy or traveled willingly and a humorous element underlies all. All, however, will feature scorching hot romance.  The impetus for the journey will be one of my characters that I’ll reveal next week.

Next Monday, World Building


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Building a Series: THE BIG PICTURE

Series-Big Pic

When I thought about the content of my February posts, I wanted to do something with a romance theme that was also related to writing. I admit that most of my posts on WOTI have been about stories, cultures, and heroes (I LOVE heroes.) rather than the mechanics of writing. For the next month, I plan to share my ideas for developing a story or series. Can’t guarantee that any of it will work for you, so check it out and toss the trash. You’ll also score a few handouts that might land in the trash also.

Each Monday I’ll discuss a topic related to building a series: The Big Picture, Setting the Theme, Building the World, Developing the Characters, and Growing the Stories. Finally I plan to close with Confessions of a Rogue Storyteller in which I’ll share the lowdown on the “You must always” rules of writing which haven’t worked for me and a few that did. I’ll also include a few “rules” garnered from conferences and successful authors that have been helpful for me.

FYI, throughout this month, I plan to develop a series of mythology-based erotic novellas with a common theme. I promise not to get too risqué here. One of the hints that I’m not holding back to the end is the importance of planning ahead. I keep a physical folder of “story plans,” not just a sheet of ideas for stories but plans that evolve over time. I use those individual sheets to update matching folders in the computer under MY DOCUMENTS – WRITING. Each story has its own folder under WRITING. Right now, I have about twelve stories that I plan to write over the next two years with written and computer files. Since I write novellas and novels below 60,000 words with occasional short stories thrown in, that’s not too ambitious.

When Champagne’s Carnal Passions line issued a Call for Submissions for Aphrodite’s Island, I saw the perfect opportunity to write one of my stories that I had filed away in my WRITING folder. When Aphrodite opened the island resort, it had one goal…to give the guests the ultimate in fantasy experiences. Miss ‘A’ established rules which guide the guests in their quest for the ultimate romantic fantasy…one sensual encounter at a time. I took my Coop’s Gym & Spa series plan out of the file and took the couple to Aphrodite’s Island. Her Teddy Bare is a humorous short story published last year which includes a bit of BDSM with a chuckle. Her Teddy Bare is available HERE for $.99. Check out the blurb below.

FINALHerTeddyBare_600x900Diana will be his to serve if only he can convince her to play the game. After dumping her cheating fiancé, Diana Harper accepts an invitation “to attend a private event at Miss A’s island retreat to experience your most secret dreams and fondest fantasies.” Miss A gives “Teddy” to Diana as an “attendant.” Despite his best efforts, Teddy isn’t a submissive and the skimpy gold thong is ridiculous on a man his size. Although she’s not a domme, Diana plays his game to see where it leads. When Teddy offers her profound passion, the best sex ever, and the prospect of love, will she take a chance on another broken heart?

Theodore Bareston will do whatever it takes to win Diana’s love, even though “whatever” includes wearing a thong and posing nude in chains when Diana’s interest in her art revives. As the sexual tension builds and passions explode, can Teddy convince Diana that he is the only man for her?

Next Monday, Setting the Theme for my new series.



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