A. Victoria Mixon, Editor
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  • Ms. Mixon, I’ve been reading your Practitioner’s Manuals. They are amazing and have opened my eyes to thinking about writing in ways I haven’t over the past twenty years. So, thank you!

    I do have a question. I am writing a series. Your plot explanation is so exact and extremely helpful. Everything seems to be in sync within a novel—everything is a smaller version of the whole. I was wondering if this same thing would apply to a series. Would the plot structure that you have explained in the 2nd Practitioner’s Manual work over the course of a series? Any illumination on this you could offer would be wonderful. Thank you so much!—Brandi Grubbs

    Hi, Brandi! You’re very kind.

    Yes, the plot structure does hold for a series. You—in your mind and in your notes—can break your overall series down into its parts: Hook, Conflict #1, Conflict #2, Conflict #3, Faux Resolution, and Climax.

    Now, the tricky part is dividing those into your books. The length (wordcount) of your entire series determines how many books you break it into, as the publishing industry has pretty hard-&-fast rules about no longer publishing novels of less than about 70,000 words (and there’s a point over 150,000 where you’re dealing with print books whose spines will break pretty darn quickly).

    You can divide your series into six books if you’ve got enough complex story, but most publishers these days like a nice, round trilogy, so the simple thing to do is divide the series into three books corresponding to your three acts.

    Be warned if you’re hoping to publish:

    Publishers are getting harder to please and quicker to pull the plug on authors if their first novels don’t do as well as the publishers think they ought to, so writers are beginning to be told to write each book of a series as a stand-alone just in case the rest of the series never sees the light of day. It’s one of the harsh realities of where the industry is right now.

    But of course the best reason to write is for the sheer love of storytelling. . .and in that world, there are no rejection letters.





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Authors


MILLLICENT G. DILLON, the world's expert on authors Jane and Paul Bowles, has won five O. Henry Awards and been nominated for the PEN/Faulkner. I worked with Dillon on her memoir, The Absolute Elsewhere, in which she describes in luminous prose her private meeting with Albert Einstein to discuss the ethics of the atomic bomb. Read more. . .


BHAICHAND PATEL, retired after an illustrious career with the United Nations, is now a journalist based out of New Dehli and Bombay, an expert on Bollywood and author of three non-fiction books published by Penguin. I edited Patel’s best-selling debut novel, Mothers, Lovers and Other Strangers, which was published by PanMacmillan. Read more. . .


LUCIA ORTH is the author of the debut novel, Baby Jesus Pawn Shop, which received critical acclaim from Publisher’s Weekly, NPR, Booklist, Library Journal and Small Press Reviews. I have edited a number of essays and articles for Orth. Read more. . .


SCOTT WARRENDER is a professional musician and Annie Award-nominated lyricist specializing in musical theater. I work with Scott regularly on his short stories and debut novel, Putaway. Read more. . .


STUART WAKEFIELD is the #1 Kindle Best Selling author of Body of Water, the first novel in his Orcadian Trilogy. Body of Water was 1 of 10 books long-listed for the Polari First Book Prize. I edited his second novel, Memory of Water and look forward to editing the final novel of his Orcadian Trilogy, Spirit of Water. Read more. . .


ANIA VESENNY is a recipient of the Evelyn Sullivan Gilbertson Award for Emerging Artist in Literature and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. I edited Vesenny's debut novel, Swearing in Russian at the Northern Lights. Read more. . .


TERISA GREEN is widely considered the foremost American authority on tattooing through her tattoo books published by Simon & Schuster, which have sold over 45,000 copies. Under the name M. TERRY GREEN, she writes her techno-shaman sci-fi/fantasy series. I am working with her to develop a new speculative fiction series. Read more. . .


JUDY LEE DUNN is an award-winning marketing blogger. I am working with her to develop and edit her memoir of reconciling her liberal activism with her emotional difficulty accepting the lesbianism of her beloved daughter, Tonight Show comedienne Kellye Rowland. Read more. . .


In addition, I work with dozens of aspiring writers in their apprenticeship to this literary art and craft.