Lessons from Andrew Ursler

My Andrew Ursler series wrapped up with Arts Collide this week.  I never wrote a series before, nor have I ever tried writing romance.  So it’s a good thing it’s over because now I have some time to reflect on it.

Have a reason to write in the first place.

I would say that Andrew Ursler is about 80-90% true.  I began writing it a couple of years ago when I thought I was going to get back together with an old flame of mine.  It didn’t happen, and how a lot of that played out is pretty much what you get in the stories.  I did drunk dial her after hanging out with a model like in Grind.  We did get together at a coffee shop like in Chocolate.  That date in The Feeling That Something Ain’t Right was almost verbatim.  To borrow from Bon Jovi, it’s all the same, only the names were changed.  That said…

Make sure it’s something you enjoy.

When “Charlotte” and I didn’t get back together, my enthusiasm for the stories quickly cooled down.  I didn’t want to keep dwelling on it, and I didn’t think Andrew should either.  However, I couldn’t just call it quits.  The train left the station.  I was on board, and had to keep going.  It’s dangerous to jump off a speeding locomotive.  I think the disinterest shows in the writing towards the end.  It got a little rushed as though I wanted to get it over with.  And that means you need to…

Have a plan.

Andrew Ursler was originally going to be a whopper of a series.  Even if things didn’t work out for him romantically, I had planned for him to get the other parts of his personal life back together.  But again, when I lost my enthusiasm for the story, I didn’t want to see anymore.  The problem is I had no trap door.  This was my biggest mistake.  A trap door is something I heard about from the 1990s sci-fi series Babylon 5.  If an actor wanted to move on to another project, the writers had an exit ready to go without causing too much disruption in the series.  Because my series had no trap door, and because I’d written myself into a hole, I had no choice but to keep going and try writing myself out of it.  In doing so, I struggled to…

Keep up the momentum.

Good fiction is all about raising the stakes.  Andrew drunk dials Charlotte?  Now he has to save face with her.  She agrees to go out on a date with him?  Now he has to ensure he’s got her interest.  She wants to break things up?  Now he has to try salvaging the situation.  These are logical progressions, yes, but they fly in the face of having an exit strategy and winding down the story.  A story without a denouement doesn’t work.  Even a cliffhanger has at least some answered questions.  Because I wanted the series to have some sort of ending, I prioritized that over momentum, which leaves it feeling unsatisfying.

I hope this all made sense, and helpful too if you’re writing a series of your own.  Sure, because the series is online, I guess I could ask Arts Collide to take it down.  No harm, no foul.  But I really can’t because the fact is that these stories have been put up.  People have read them, and taking them down won’t change that fact, so why worry?  The only thing I can do is learn from my mistakes and move on.

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