Monday, February 18, 2013

Making Your Series Stand Out

These days, the book market is glutted with books so it’s hard to make your novel stand out.  

One way to make your book series original is to use your own life experience or location.

Two authors who have done that are Cassie Alexander and Ilona Andrews.

Author Cassie Alexander is a nurse, and her urban fantasy series heroine in NIGHTSHIFTED is nurse Edie Spense, but Edie works in the magical wing of a hospital where vampires, weres, and other magical creatures need medical help.  The details are extremely realistic, and most of the action is in and around the hospital and Edie’s job.  She doesn’t wear leather or carry a sword, but she is a magnificent fighter who protects her charges with her knowledge and courage.  

The married couple Ilona Andrews uses the city of Atlanta in a more traditional urban fantasy.  But in the Kate Daniels series,  Atlanta has been changed and destroyed as waves of magic enter the world and destroy technology and buildings.  Famous landmarks are twisted bits of slag and magic where the heroine chases bad guys.  The real world with its familiarity becomes wickedly unfamiliar.  I found it so amusing that I bought a copy of the first novel for my niece who lives there, and she got a great kick out of this altered Atlanta.

The husband half of the Ilona Andrews’s pseudonym is former military, and the spot on battle scenes show this background so the scenes are not generic or ridiculous as so many others are in urban fantasy series.  The werewolf community is essentially paramilitary, as well, which adds a nice addition to the usual pack system.

So, if you want to stand out as an author, you must not only create great characters and a hard-charging plot, employ world-class craft, and careful worldbuilding,  you should also find something different and uniquely your own in your life or interests to create a great series.

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