The Art of Storytelling



So you finished a story but there are many more adventures for your characters to experience, thus perhaps deciding to write volume two or even more. I am going to kick-off with how I created my series.

For me, when I completed ‘Crach Ffinnant – The Prophecy’, I knew there was much more to tell and the creation of a series was very clear in my mind from the outset. In fact, I have now written three volumes in my series with one more currently under the quill. This was a time in Wales when the revolt of 1400 resulted in war with Henry V of England. This is well documented and thus a mix of fact and fiction fuelled my addled mind.

‘The Prophecy’ is for the most part ‘fiction’ however, one of my main characters, Owain Glyndwr, did study law at Lincolns Inn in 1375. So no surprise I should create a chance meeting between Crach and Owain at the Inn, setting the scene for their future relationship which would last for decades. I was fortunate in many ways as very little is known about Crach Ffinnant, other than he was a dwarf, prophet, seer and rode with Owain Glyndwr, the last real true Prince of Wales. Glyndwr’s life is well documented through historians whereas Crach’s is not. What a gift for a storyteller; a real person with an almost blank canvas to paint.

Inventing a life for Crach and subsequent adventures to get him to the point of meeting Glyndwr, was a mammoth task in real terms. It seemed sensible to create some kind of apprenticeship for him to serve, ending as a prophet and seer which ultimately he became. Secret scrolls, and a prophecy became the reason to get Crach from the mountains of Wales to London.

There was an ancient prophecy in Welsh history related to the rise of Glyndwr and on the night of his birth, a great storm raged and apparently the stable floors were covered in blood with a spirit sword hanging in the air above baby Owain’s head. His destiny was certain, but you have to read my books to find out. I felt strongly the need to bring back the ancient welsh dragon, so one of Crach’s teachers as an apprentice was a crotchety old dragon, Tan-y-Mynedd. I took themes from Crach Ffinnant – The Prophecy, developing them in volume two.

‘Crach Ffinnant – Rise of the Dragon’ inherited Owain’s eventual Coronation as Prince of Wales on the one hand, with Tan-y-Mynedd discovering sacred dragon’s eggs, on the other, thus the title, Rise of the Dragon. Research was great fun for me as I adore history and Wales is flooded with over a thousand years of ‘stuff to make your hair curl’. So matching fact, fiction and fables filled my pen. I certainly admit to a tremendous amount of poetic license in my storytelling, but I think all writers would. Do you?

The rebellion and subsequent war leading to Glyndwr’s rise to the Welsh throne filled my pages. By the end of the book the war is well under way, the characters have developed real personalities and almost leap from the pages, the dragon eggs have hatched and their future is safe.  

I have always enjoyed acting, so when I write about a character, I do become them in my mind, conversations can become most schizophrenic but that’s writing. In volume three, ‘Crach Ffinnant – Ravens and Dragons’ again themes develop even more, embracing the reader (I hope) as if they are watching a movie through my words. Well that is the intention. This time the writing and preparation included a road trip around ancient battle sites, castles, and places I knew Glyndwr had been.

I strongly recommend if you are writing similar stuff; if something really existed, go see it for yourself if you can, spending quiet time intuiting whatever and scribbling like a whirling dervish. For me this road trip was probably the most productive time I have experienced as a storyteller. Every evening thousands of words as the story became real in my mind. The first draft was completed in twelve weeks, never have I written so much, so quickly. I believe, the road trip was the catalyst.

My fictional dragon eggs now hatched and growing enable a new story line to run alongside the war. Again you must read the book to find out what happened but if you like medieval mystery with dragons, mystery and adventure, ‘I’m yer man’ as they say!

My final volume in the series, ‘Crach Ffinnant – Justice Prevails’ is fast paced culminating in an ending readers would not expect. It is a hell of a story and it has been such a privilege to write it supported by Words Matter Publishing in all its glory. So let me try and pull together some key points to remember when writing a series.

  1. A series by definition suggests a ‘big story’, what is it.
  2. How many volumes?
  3. What is the key theme for each volume?
  4. Which characters are central to the story and how will they develop
  5. How will themes develop
  6. Do you have a central character
  7. Is there a central plot and how does it develop
  8. If it is possible to do real research, do it!
  9. Become your story (without ending up as psychotic an advantage)
  10. Will you write the whole series before publishing or phase publish?

Writing a series is great fun, well it has been for me as I almost near the end of one of the best creative journeys of my life. Check out your favourite series authors and consider what it is you like about their writing. What will readers like about your writing?

Keep your quill full!

Lazarus Carpenter

Originally published in Words Matter Publishing Quarterly Journal


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