Hey everyone, and welcome back to Too Many Books to Count! I’m so glad you stopped by. If you’ve already started reading your copy of Anialych, I hope you’re enjoying it—it was really fun to write, even if it did take me a while longer than I’m used to. ;-)
All month long, as you know, we’re talking about what it takes to write a series of standalone novels. We’ve been discussing everything from your motivations behind writing a series of this nature to the reasons why we need to understand the ins and outs of the whole world before we get too deep into book two, and today, I have another fun topic for you.
Crossovers: Silent but Deadly
I cannot stress this enough, in writing your series of standalones. Use crossovers with caution, if you use them at all.
Why? Because it’s hard to keep your timeline perfectly straight, if you have a character who keeps popping up from book to book. Sure, we’ve talked about those big characters who get name-dropped from time to time in books they don’t belong in, but that’s not a full-fledged crossover. A crossover is where you’ll take a character from one book and insert them into another.
It’s only been done a few times in the Druid Novels, and the times you’ve seen so far are so small that they couldn’t do much damage.
See, crossovers are one of those things that innately draw attention to themselves. If a reader knows your story at all, they’ll be looking closely for those crossovers, to make sure everything lines up right. And it’s hard to get things perfect. It’s really hard to get things perfect.
Why? Because it’s nearly impossible to remember every single thing you’ve ever written, no matter how long you’ve been writing, no matter how many things you’ve written. Once those words go on the page, they leave your head. You probably won’t remember every one of them. and that’s what makes it really hard to make sure your crossovers actually work.
In the Druid Novels, my crossovers have only happened (to this point in releases, anyway) in epilogues and small non-pivotal scenes. They’ve been tiny scenes that won’t really make much bearing on the story as a whole, but simply inform other stories around them. Oh yeah, and I think most of them are contained within Cedwig, because Cedwig and Mynidd take place so close to one another, geographically.
Crossovers, because they innately draw so much attention to themselves, will also draw readers to any errors you have inside them. And I do mean any errors. You’ve got to get them perfect, or it just won’t work at all.
So before you write in a crossover, before you slide a character from book two into book five, ask yourself whether it’s entirely necessary. Ask yourself if you’re just getting fancy, and if this character really needs to be here. If the answer is yes, then proceed with caution. If the answer is no, then maybe just write the scene for yourself, knowing full well that it’ll never make it into the published version of the book.
Whatever you do… just proceed with caution. Trust me.