A. Victoria Mixon, Editor
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  • By Victoria Mixon

    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.

    “The freshest and
    most relevant advice
    you’ll find.”

    —Helen Gallagher,
    Seattle P-I

    The Art & Craft of Fiction
    The Art & Craft of Story




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"The freshest and most relevant advice you’ll find." — Seattle Post-Intelligencer


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