So at the February con­fer­ence I attend­ed, one of the speak­ers talked about the idea of writ­ing the same book sev­en hun­dred times. In the ’pulp fic­tion’ categories–romance being the largest–the audi­ence craves their favorite tropes, yes, but they will devour a series when each book deliv­ers on a pre­dictable pat­tern.

The box­car chil­dren. Nancy Drew. The Dragonriders of Pern. These are all sto­ries I con­sumed when I was younger with rel­ish. I could­n’t wait to get my hands on the next one. But look­ing at the books crit­i­cal­ly, there’s very lit­tle that sets them apart. Every DroP book is going to have a chase, a hatch­ing, a Thread attack, and deal with Wyr pol­i­tics. That’s why I read the books! If Anne McAffery had diverged into a sto­ry about a kitchen maid and that girl did­n’t become an acci­den­tal queen­rid­er, I might’ve stopped read­ing.

It took a sol­id month for this con­cept to real­ly sink in. I began see­ing more and more series in my read­ing his­to­ry that con­formed to the pat­tern and some of the advice I’ve been giv­en in the past to write a series began to make more sense.

Enter Powyrworld. I don’t own this IP, but I am allowed to pub­lish with­in the world and I own the books I release, which is a great deal! An estab­lished world with oth­er authors but I don’t have to share the roy­al­ties! Powyrworld is a uni­verse with rules and as long as I fol­low them, I can write any­thing I want. My straight romance pen name, Anna Morgan, has two books in the Powyworld uni­verse: Dragon Star and Dragon Solstice. Additional books in this series makes sense for her cur­rent audi­ence. But I want­ed to cre­ate a series con­cept that fol­lowed the idea of writ­ing the same book over and over. I need­ed a high-con­cept, repeat­able, plot device.

Here is that con­cept:

1 Amethyst

2 Opal

3 Sapphire

4 Red Emerald

5 Diamond — a woman

Historically Sentinels were 5 pow­er­ful drag­ons, a court that gov­erned the island inde­pen­dent of the rul­ing fam­i­lies. They were immense­ly long-lived, and their fat­ed mates were, too. A Sentinel would pass their gem to their cho­sen suc­ces­sor and mag­i­cal­ly receive the entire his­to­ry of that Sentinel (and those that came before) so the new drag­on could con­tin­ue their work.

Sentinels pro­tect­ed the island from exter­nal threats: grif­fon incur­sion, witch­es, vam­pires, any­thing that could threat­en the fledg­ling race of drag­ons on Patomas.

Long, long ago, the sen­tinels each died out with­out choos­ing a suc­ces­sor (each one was killed by the arc­ing badguy witch­es) and the gems have remained hid­den and unclaimed ever since. The witch­es were even­tu­al­ly defeat­ed, burned to noth­ing by drag­on­fire and a search was ordered for the gems, but noth­ing ever came of it.

Now a new order of the witch­es is ris­ing and gems have start­ed call­ing their new Sentinels.

Gem Arc:

  • Gem calls its new sen­tinel
  • Gem needs to be found — dif­fer­ent each way
  • Scattered memories/dreams
  • Gem is activated/connected, trans­for­ma­tion sequence Dragon Version
  • When MC shifts back to human, gem is a mag­i­cal weapon — unique
  • Massive mem­o­ry dump from pre­vi­ous Sentinel
  • Gem can help sense/direct Sentinel to the witch­es

 

  • Each gem has a spe­cial pow­er, weapon, and relat­ed col­or
  • Sentinel’s fat­ed mate has spe­cial sec­ondary pow­er of the same col­or
  • Sentinel’s fat­ed mate can act as a pow­er boost/battery

Plot Arc:

  • Dragons are being attacked by witch­es, groups of them. Overwhelmed. There are deaths.
  • MC is sep­a­rat­ed from his fam­i­ly or some­one is cap­tured, needs to get back/rescue.
  • Witches have grown in power/established territory/started some­thing.
  • MC is com­pelled to fight them (by the gem) but isn’t strong enough to win. Gets wrecked.
  • Gem acti­va­tion, MC wipes the floor with the witch­es in a small skir­mish
  • Witches retal­i­ate with pow­er­ful thing they started/kidnap LI/otherwise march on a clan.
  • MC epic fight sequence.
  • Family/clan is secure from the threat, every­one is safe.

Character Arc:

  • MC has dri­ve but no pur­pose in life, feel­ing like their prime is being wast­ed.
  • Gem does­n’t appear to be the life-chang­ing event that it is, at first. MC mis­takes its impor­tance.
  • Plot/Gem forces MC to con­front how weak he is, how strong the Sentinel in his visions are. Insert desire for pow­er here.
  • Mastery of the gem pow­er comes at a cost. Doubts. Perhaps this was the wrong path to take.
  • Reversal when MC beats a small witch group. Sentinels were made to serve the drag­ons of Patomas. He has a dri­ving pur­pose and all the pow­er he needs to enforce the peace.
  • Sentinel mem­o­ries now bring sat­is­fac­tion, goal ori­en­ta­tion, future desire, map out a path of hon­or and respect for the Sentinel to walk.
  • He was made to be a Sentinel. Of course this is his life’s pur­pose. He is ful­filled.

Between these three arcs you may notice that the books have almost writ­ten them­selves. A con­ve­nient side-effect of need­ing to include spe­cif­ic repeat­able scenes is that those scenes are already estab­lished in the nar­ra­tive, leav­ing far few­er holes to fill in the out­line. Threading these three arcs togeth­er pro­vides a sat­is­fy­ing sto­ry, and lay­er­ing a romance on top of that only fills in more of those out­line gaps. Without know­ing any­thing at all about my char­ac­ters, antag­o­nists, or even the world, I can pro­duce a rather thor­ough out­line on the series con­cept alone. It will be the indi­vid­ual book char­ac­ters and details that make each one unique.

This con­cept is very high on my to-do list this year. As of writ­ing, I’m out­lin­ing Magic!Preg for Crista and my’s co-write, but if there’s time while she’s draft­ing, I’m going to give this gem drag­on world some atten­tion and start ham­mer­ing out the first book’s out­line. I’m extreme­ly excit­ed about these drag­on sto­ries, and if the read­ers eat them up, so much the bet­ter.