Posted Fri, 09/07/12
I'm a member of several writing and/or author groups via Linked-In. The various discussions and information garnered is often very helpful, while other times I zip through the posts because they offer little in the way of the actual writing craft.
This morning, a discussion thread about writing sagas was introduced at the Fiction Writers Guild. It caught my eye because long books and the writing thereof is my favorite niche. The beginning thread came from an author named Glenna:
I just joined the group and would like discussion about writing sagas. I am presently writing the first book of my saga and have six chapters written...
Another author responded:
All ears (and eyes). I write historical fiction, and it seems the nature of that beast is the stories do morph into sagas. Once you have created the world and introduced the characters, they and their stories take on a life of their own. Probably the same with fantasy...as long as you have built the set...
I happen to know a thing or two about writing a fictional saga. Love them or hate them, stories that thread together to create one saga requires a vast amount of work and intense concentration, which is also needed when writing any book. However, as the author of many singles and one saga, keeping continuity through several books can be quite daunting. It's easy to become discouraged during the process. The only factors that kept me going toward the finish line for the Collective Obsessions Saga was a strong belief in myself and the long-learned ability to block out the negative and often resentful people that were sometimes part of my life over a twenty-year period.
To that end, I posted the following under the "saga discussion" at Fiction Writers Guild:
Writing a saga can take quite a long time. However, the personal satisfaction and sense of accomplishment once the story is finally complete is unmatched by anything else in my life to date. It took me more than twenty years (on-and-off) to write the eight-part Collective Obsessions Saga (under my pseudonym Deidre Dalton). There were many occasions during those two decades I thought I'd never finish the books, but I never gave up – not even when friends, family or even husbands told me I was wasting my time. I'm glad I didn’t listen to any of them. Lucky for me, I received contracts for all eight books from Club Lighthouse Publishing. We are currently prepping the fifth book in the saga for release by Christmas. I cannot adequately describe how truly exciting it is.
I think the best bit of advice I can give when writing a long saga is to keep a spreadsheet of all character names, physical descriptions, where they appear in the saga, and all other little quirks that somehow make their way into the books. Keeping details on fictional and non-fictional locations and structures to keep them consistent when needed in a particular scene is also a good idea.
I also recall the day I finally finished writing the saga, which is something I'm never likely to forget as long as I live. Whether ten people or ten million read the books is not a motivator, nor the basis of my inspiration. It was the personal satisfaction that I managed to pull it off on my own that matters to me. I didn't allow naysayers to get in the way of my goal in finishing the books, even though it was partially responsible for the breakdown of more than one of my marriages. I wouldn't change a thing, not even in hindsight.
C'est la vie!