Bestselling Series Authors Reveal “Keeping it Fresh” Strategies

Jim Butcher, Dave Weber, Sherrilyn Kenyon, and Eric Flint shared tactics for keeping their long-running series fresh to a full house on Saturday afternoon in the Hyatt Regency VI–VII.  Steve Saffel moderated.

The camaraderie was apparent in the commentary on the series represented: Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files (“affected every other writer in modern fantasy”) and Eric Flint’s 1632/Ring of Fire (“he’s written with every other writer on the planet”). Dave Weber (Honor Harrington) and Sherrilyn Kenyon (Dark Hunter)? ‘Nuff said!

Kenyon said she started writing series as a kid. She wanted to be Gene Roddenberry and began worldbuilding.

Weber revealed that he had pitched ten series to Jim Baen. He described the Honor Harrington series as Hornblower in space.

Flint said that he wrote 1632 as a stand-alone with no plans for a series. But the first book did very well with fan involvement from the very beginning. The other authors writing keep it fresh with ideas Flint would not have come up with. (As an example, Weber wanted to write a novel with ironclads. That didn’t fit in the Honorverse, so he wrote 1633 with Flint as collaborator.)

Because of its genesis, staying fresh has not been a problem. Flint noted that if a series is open-ended, it’s very easy to get stale.

Kenyon said that she does not have to input anything to keep things fresh. She likes to blow things up and includes assassins and demons in her series. It “makes me weirder than normal.”

Butcher said that he never felt the need to inject stuff as he was doing that already. He added that he only describes things with dramatic impact on his story. He said to keep it lean and moving so that the
reader will keep turning pages. “Each book wrecks [a] character’s life in a different way.”

Author of the article

Amy Herring

Amy L. Herring (Louise Herring-Jones) writes speculative fiction, with a preference for historical fantasy and alternate mystery. Her stories, appearing in fourteen anthologies, include “The Poulterer’s Tale” in God Bless Us, Every One—Christmas Carols beyond Dickens (Voodoo Rumors Media, expected release 2019). Amy is a NaNoWriMo co-municipal liaison. She also coordinates the Huntsville (Alabama) Literary Association’s writers’ group. Visit her online at http://www.louiseherring-jones.com.

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