Bound By Their Secret Passion is the fourth book in the Scandalous Summerfields series, the stories of three sisters and their half-brother.
Readers first met Lorene, the heroine of Bound By Their Secret Passion in Book 1, Bound By Duty. It was Lorene’s marriage to elderly, wealthy Lord Tinmore that set up that first book and became important in Books 2 and 3: Bound By One Scandalous Night and Bound By A Scandalous Secret.
Readers, you might wonder if I plan out all the stories in a series ahead of time. Do I decide who the heroes and heroines will be and what will happen to them? The truth is, I do not plan all that much.
When I needed to come up with a four book series, what popped into my head was to base my characters on my mother, her sisters and her brother. I never intended to base the books on their lives. Instead I fashioned three sisters who were very close, like my mother and my aunts, and their brother with whom they had a more distant relationship. That was the germ of the idea.
Lorene was the first character I thought up. Like my Aunt Loraine, she was the oldest and in many ways took care of her younger sisters, but there the similarities ended. I thought of Lorene marrying for money as a sacrifice, so her younger siblings would have a chance in life. I always planned for Lorene’s story to be the last in the series, but that was the extent of my plotting.
When I’m writing a series, I don’t really figure out the plots. I start with characters. The characters make themselves known to me. If I start with a heroine, I decide her personality, her situation and then I think up a hero. If I start with a hero, I think up who his heroine might be after I know him.
The first book in the series gives me ideas of who the next book should be about. And lots of times a minor character in one book becomes the hero or heroine in the next book. For example, I didn’t know that Edmund would have his romance with Amelie in Book 2, until I wrote a scene of him meeting her in Book 1. I didn’t know who Lorene would fall in love with until Dell appeared in Book 3. One of the reasons I like to write series is to tell the stories of characters who play a minor role in an earlier book. I get to like them and I want them to have their happily ever after, too.
I know for some authors, this way of crafting a series might seem wrong. I know some authors prefer to plot ahead of time and to know exactly where their stories are going. For me, though, some of the fun of writing is discovering the stories as I’m writing them. If I outlined every scene and knew exactly what would happen in every book, I would lose that sense of discovery. I’m not saying my way is the best way, only that it works for me.
What about you, writers? Do you prefer to plot or fly by the seat of your pants?
If you prefer reading ebooks to paperbacks, the ebook version of Bound By Their Secret Passion will be available April 1 and can be preordered now.