Today I’m handing my blog over to bestselling author Cathy Bramley. Cathy is the hard-working, super-talented author behind the phenomenally successful Ivy Lane series, currently occupying top spots on Amazon. Find out what it takes to write an ebook series, then ask Cathy any questions via the comments box below. Over to you, Cathy …
My Ebook Series – Ivy Lane
The lovely Jo has invited me to talk about my ebook series Ivy Lane which is being published in four parts throughout this year. It follows the journey of a young woman, Tilly Parker and her first year on her allotment. It’s a light-hearted, feel-good story with plenty of smiles and quite a few tears along the way.
It would never have occurred to me to write a serial, had I not been asked by Transworld Books to do so. Up until that point, I hadn’t even noticed the trend towards releasing books as serials. There are oodles of them this year: some simply novels split into chunks and released every couple of weeks and others designed specifically as a printed version of a soap-opera.
I suggested to my editor that we followed the seasons and released each part in its correct season. Next spring we will be releasing the complete story, with all four parts as a paperback.
When I began plotting the book, I was very conscious of the reader and what their experience would be when reading Ivy Lane. I didn’t want them to get to the end of part one and think, ‘oh, what a nice story.’ I wanted them to be intrigued and wonder what happens next and speculate as to what Tilly’s secret might be.
In short I suppose, I wanted to end each part on a bit of a cliff-hanger so that readers are chomping at the bit until the next part is released. So far it seems to be working and the feedback has been fabulous. In fact, last weekend one particular blogger was threatening to drive over and try and bribe me to find out what happens next!
I realised that in order to do this I would have to write each separate part not only as a stand-alone short story but also as part of a bigger story arc to carry through the whole novel.
So each part has a three act structure which fits into an even bigger overarching three act structure.
I was a bit daunted by this at first, but then remembered a session I had been to at the Writer’s Workshop Festival of Writing last year run by best-selling author Julie Cohen. (Julie runs a lot of workshops and if you ever get chance to attend one – do!)
She demonstrated how to use the three act structure to plan your novel by following the format of Disney Pixar’s film Cars. I plotted out the events of each part of Ivy Lane, making sure that there was enough conflict and build-up of tension throughout the story. I then did the same for the whole novel. The only difference for me was that at the end of parts one, two and three; instead of a resolution, there is a partial resolution and cliff-hanger ending to keep the reader guessing about what happens next.
I enjoyed writing the Ivy Lane series so much that it ended up being the fastest book I’ve ever written and I finished the first draft in ten weeks. It’s also quite addictive – I’m now in the middle of a new series for next year and have got an idea for a third!
Thanks Cathy! For anyone who wants to know more about the 3 Act Structure, Julie Cohen runs fantastic courses for writers and you can find out more about them here. Jo x