Random Rambles: Writing a Unique Series

While I'm classifying this as a random rambles, it is also a writing-related post. When I normally write about writing, I try to put a little thought and effort into it. (Shocking, I know.)

Because I'm just talking, without that care, this is a random rambles. Even if I'm talking about writing. So there. I'll try to interject something about my cats for a random element or something. And spelling mistakes, grammar errors, and other blasphemies. (le gasp!)

Everyone wants to be unique. We want to write original stories, or a unique series, and stand out from the rest of the competition. We want people to see our art or read our tales, and say, “Well, that's different!”

It's in our nature. We want to feel validated. Being different, in a good, positive way, is one of the ultimate forms of validation. I'm no different. Every time someone says that ‘I'm different' but in a positive way, I feel a lot better about myself.

When someone says that ‘I'm different', I've done something unique. I've done something only I can do or have done. It's egotistical, no doubt about that, but it's natural. Some of us, of course, go out of our way a lot more to stand out.

Apple's famous ad was all about being different. Yet, it touched so many of us.

Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers…

Writers are the round pegs in the square holes. We've always been that way.

We see things differently.

There have been many comments, quotes, and beliefs that creative types are mentally ill. That might be true. We do things differently. And that, in and of itself, is often viewed as an illness. When many others of our species fall into groups, obeying a natural instinct to form herds, creative types are often loners. A lone wolf in a society where pack means something–where cliques, circles, and fellowships are formed and break down every day.

Humans like groups. We gather to become nations. When we collectively believe something, be it right or wrong, we form religions. We form classrooms to learn. We have packs of friends. We are social by nature. We're both predators and prey. We are, despite the common belief we are somehow superior because we speak ‘known languages', a product of nature, complete with instincts.

We're animals, but we don't like admitting it.

We strive to be different, yet we vilify those who succeed at it too well. It's okay to be different–if you're different within the thresholds set by society's standards.

And maybe that's why some of us write. We want to be different, but we don't want to be vilified. We're frightened of being ostracized. We don't want to be ignored, but we don't want to pay the price for being different. We want to be seen as geniuses in our own right, but we don't want to be viewed as crazy. Not in that negative way.

We want to be the good crazy, the good different.

We want to change the world–or at least someone's world.

Yet by writing, we manage to often be ostracized and vilified for doing something different. ‘Writing isn't a real career,' some say. ‘Writing is something to be done in a dark corner, away from real people,' others say.

‘Writing can't be a job,' people say.

‘Well, screw them,' I say.

I, too, want to be different. To think different. To be that crazy person, a world changer. I'm not rich, nor do I expect to be. I can't buy change. Others can. I won't–because I don't believe change should be bought. It should be earned. It should be a result of people thinking differently. About their world, about their beliefs, about who they are, about who they want to become.

When I set out to write Inquisitor, I wanted to write something different. I wanted people to make guesses, wonder, and think about the people I created–and then be surprised by the last page. I wanted to see if I could pursue society's expectations and prove things can be different.

But I didn't want to throw a left hook out of nowhere. I wanted my readers to stare at the last chapter, and then see all of the things they may have missed, and realize it wasn't a out-of-the-blue conclusion–that all of the pieces were there all along.

I wanted to challenge my readers, giving them a puzzle they could solve–if they were really clever, if they thought outside of the box, and thought differently. I didn't want to dumb the story down because that is what society expects. I wanted to tell something difficult. Something different.

Because being different is difficult. It means facing the status quo, turning around, and rejecting it. It means looking at things a layer deeper.

Inquisitor challenged me because I wanted to write something different.

Witch & Wolf is going to challenge me because I want to write an entire series differently.

I want to capture the tension and heart-pounding excitement of a thriller novel, but I want to challenge society. I want to see the world differently. That's why I write speculative fiction.

I want to be different.

But let's face it, urban fantasy is a very popular genre, and writing differently, and being different, it's a very difficult thing. You can randomly create races or types of magic, but that's not enough to stand out. That's not enough to bring notice to yourself.

If you write about werewolves, while the species is ultra popular, there are so many stories about werewolves that creating something different is almost impossible.

But it can be unique to you, which is almost as good as being different. Different is a word for a purple orange. You don't expect to see a purple orange. Unique? Unique is having an orange orange that just tastes so much better than the other oranges. It stands out, but it is an orange–a regular, orange-colored orange. At first glance, you may not see the difference.

But you can taste it.

That's what reading a unique book is all about–tasting and experiencing that difference, even if the orange isn't the color purple. Once the first bite is tasted, do you care that the orange wasn't purple in color? No.

It tastes good.

It's enjoyable.

When I write, I want to make my orange tasty–unique in its flavor.

With InquisitorI wanted to tell a story about what it would be like to, theoretically, live forever–and the story about those who want to protect the normal people of the world from those who are different. The paranormals, the supernaturals–the world changers. And in turn, I wanted to explore how people can be conflicted, divided, wear masks, and be human–even when they aren't.

Especially when they aren't.

I wanted to create a woman who lived differently, but wore masks to hide among the status quo. If anything, it's a novel about masks, who wears them, and why those masks are worn.

And it's, of course, an action adventure, because I love action, thrills, adventure, and the breath-holding suspense.

Winter Wolf is the second installment of the Witch & Wolf series, but it comes before Inquisitor in chronological order. The two books are connected by the world they live in. A character from Winter Wolf–the Winter Wolf–is mentioned in Inquisitor. Some of the resolution is already known, too. Therefor, some of the consequences are known before Winter Wolf was written.

And that's where Witch & Wolf is different. It's a series, but it isn't a series in the usual sense.

For each novel, the main characters are different. They're all standalone novels. They may reference events from other novels, but if it is–the context is included. Some characters may never meet. Others will become life-long partners.

I'm writing about a world, not one specific character. Already, readers want to see the next Victoria Hanover novel. Victoria is a character I will write again–a second novel from her perspective–but her time for her second book isn't now. And when it does come, while reading Inquisitor might give you a little more depth to who Victoria Hanover is, a new reader can pick up the book and enjoy it.

I can have a series without necessarily forcing investment on each and every book in the series.

Readers should have the freedom to read only the standalone novels they want. They should have the freedom to read all of the novels, and see the subtle references–the Easter eggs–to the other books in the ‘series'. I don't want to create a series where you need to read every book–unless you want to.

I want it to be like an amusement park, where readers can pick the rides they want to ride, without having to ride every single one to enjoy the ride they choose.

When someone reads Winter Wolf, reading Inquisitor is not a requirement. When reading Inquisitorreading Winter Wolf is not a requirement.

I love reading first books in a series. There is always a sense of joy and discovery with each and every one of them–a new world. New faces. The second books, unless it is a direct continuation of the first book… it often falls short. Flat. I want to avoid that with my second of my actual series, but we'll see.

Witch & Wolf novels are the books I'm using to break free of the chains of a series.

With these novels, I want to think differently.

Will it work?

I guess we'll find out.

P.S.: Cats.

Kitty Cats

Leave a Comment:

Alyssa Auch says May 23, 2014

Call me strange (ironically), but I’ve never desired to be a misfit or someone “different.” I’ve always just wanted to be friendly. I want to be the kind of person that makes those around me comfortable with who they are. I want to write things that make people feel good. I want to make them smile. I want to make them daydream. That’s all I’ve ever wanted as a writer, and I have to tell you, it takes a lot of stress away. I’m not trying to reinvent the proverbial wheel or anything. I just want to entertain people, and I hope I do that!

We all write for different reasons. Just make sure that you enjoy the process, no matter what your goals.

–Alyssa Auch

    RJBlain says May 23, 2014

    That alone really does make you different thought, Alyssa–I don’t know many people who do want to just make others feel good about themselves, or be comfortable–that’s a very different, unique, and damned good trait.

    And it’s woefully uncommon. And that’s a bad thing, in my opinion!

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