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Author Spotlight

Writing a Series: Ayana Gray’s Author Tips!

Ayana Gray is the author of the action-packed, beloved, and now COMPLETE series Beasts of Prey (get your copies here!) If you’ve ever thought about trying to write a series of your own, here are Ayana Gray’s top tips for getting started!

Hi! My name is Ayana Gray and I am the New York Times-bestselling author of Beasts of Prey, Beasts of Ruin, and most recently Beasts of War! I really enjoy reading sweeping, epic fantasy novels full of magic, mythos, and monsters, so that’s what I write too!

Nine years ago, when I began writing the first book in this series—my debut!—I had no idea how things would unfold. At the time, I was a postgraduate trying to find my way. In the years since then, I’ve learned a lot (and am still learning) about how to be a good storyteller. I thought it’d be nice to share some of what I’ve learned thus far. With that said, here are my four tips for writing an epic fantasy series!

  1. Give your characters time to develop.

One of the biggest challenges in writing an epic fantasy series is that you have to show your characters growth and development over the course of several books, and a series end will only feel satisfying if readers can really see that growth and fundamental change in who the character is. As you begin your stories, don’t be afraid of giving your protagonist(s) real flaws—narrow-mindedness, selfishness, cowardice—so that they can overcome them throughout the story in a meaningful way. I did this with Ekon and Koffi in all three of my books, and I think it paid off!

  1. Keep notes!

Even when you really love a project, it’s almost impossible to remember every single detail about it. When you’re writing an epic fantasy series—books that can be hundreds and hundreds of pages long—it’s inevitable that some of those details will fall between the cracks. For this reason, I really recommend finding a way to keep notes about your characters and your world that you can refer back to later. (Then you won’t be like me, desperately searching through hundreds of pages of text, trying to find the middle name of an obscure character who’s only mentioned one other time!)

  1. Don’t be afraid to upset the chessboard.

I’ll tell you a secret: I thought had Beasts of War planned out early. I wrote an outline, fleshed out chapter summaries, and thought I was well on my way to a nice, clean first draft. Once I started actually writing though, I realized some parts of the outline I’d so meticulously planned out didn’t work. Some scenes I’d thought would be so cool in my imagination fell flat when I actually drafted them. I panicked, not sure of what to do. Then, I took a deep breath, and I started over. I let instinct drive me, and wrote what naturally felt exciting to me. And you know what? I wrote a better book for it and learned a lesson. Sometimes, the best-laid plans aren’t actually the best at all. Don’t be afraid to totally upset the chessboard and start all over again with a fresh page—it might just save your story!

Penguin Teen