Guest Article: Shaping a Series
by Anna Staniszewski,
Author of My Very UnFairy Tale Life and its sequels, My Epic Fairy Tale Fail and My Sort of Fairy Tale Ending
When I sold my first book, My Very UnFairy Tale Life, it was a standalone novel with series potential. That meant there were tentative plans to make it a series, but I had to make sure the first book could stand on its own. I thought a lot about the overall shape of the first book and how to wrap things up in a satisfying way, though I did leave one thread open, just in case.
Luckily, my publisher bought two follow-up books—hooray! I started planning and writing and scratching my head. I wanted to make sure that each of the three books had that same satisfying beginning, middle, and end as the first book, but I also wanted the three books to have a strong overall shape.
I spent a lot of time making sure to resolve each smaller conflict in the books while making the larger question (will Jenny ever find her parents?) bigger and more important in each book. That way, I tried to create two ongoing story arcs throughout the series:
The biggest thing I discovered about this technique was how much everything needed to feel connected: a seemingly goofy side plot became important later on, etc. I realized that every character and plot twist had potential to have deeper meaning as the books continued. Because of all the cumulative experiences throughout the trilogy, my main character could hopefully change and grow and triumph by the end.
Anna Staniszewski, Biography~
Born in Poland and raised in the United States, Anna Staniszewski grew up loving stories in both Polish and English. She was named the 2006-2007 Writer-in-Residence at the Boston Public Library and a winner of the 2009 PEN New England Susan P. Bloom Discovery Award.
When she’s not writing, Anna spends her time teaching, reading, and challenging unicorns to games of hopscotch.
She is the author of My Very UnFairy Tale Life and its sequels, My Epic Fairy Tale Fail and My Sort of Fairy Tale Ending, all published by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky.
Look for the first book in Anna’s next tween series, The Dirt Diary, in January 2014, and visit her at www.annastan.com.
In My Epic Fairy Tale Fail (November 2013) – Book 3 in the Series, Jenny is back with an all new adventure, and this time, her happily ever after seems light-years away. While Jenny’s search for her parents leads her to a rundown amusement park called Fairyland, she encounters creepily happy fairies and disgruntled leprechauns; Jenny is sure they are keeping her parents from her. With the help of some new-found friends, Jenny finds a way to rescue her parents and defy the crazy Queen Fairy, but at the expense of putting all magical worlds in danger.
“Plenty of laughs follow Jenny the Adventurer as she concludes her trilogy of comic quests in Fairy Land… Staniszewski’s ear for humor remains keen… It’s all great fun for middle school fantasy fans.”—Kirkus Reviews
Praise for Anna Staniszewski:
Anna Staniszewski creates a magical world that’s totally relatable. You’ll find yourself wishing you were alongside Jenny fighting against unicorns (who aren’t as peaceful as you think) and traveling to fantastical realms.
—Girls’ Life Magazine
A speedy and amusing ride that displays a confident, on-the-mark brand of humor, mostly through Jenny’s wisecracking narration. [The] inventive and lighthearted premise will keep readers entertained.
“Returning with her deliciously droll wit and a brand new mission for her now-thirteen-year-old heroine, Anna delivers another breezy magical romp . . . the joking tone and thoughtful fairy tale play make this a fresh middle-grade read.”—Horn Book
The other books in the My Very UnFairy Tale Life Series:
Go to http://www.annastan.com/books/ to read first chapter excerpts and download her e-book prequel for free!
Don’t miss Anna’s upcoming new series!
The Dirt Diary By Anna Staniszweski, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
ISBN 9-781-4022- 8636-0 / January 7, 2014 / $6.99 US