“How to Write a Fantasy Series.”

Or more accurately:



Peter Gribble


It was going to be different from anything I had written before. One big book. Working title: The Epic. A big book with beginning, middle and end with all loose threads wrapped up, the lost found, the mysteries solved, motivations exposed, love satisfied, the baby delivered, the solutions sound and closure satisfying.

It didn’t turn out that way.

A scribbled note at the 5:00 pm entry line of Friday, September 25th in my 1998 appointment book indicates this was when I started writing The Epic.

A month later I attended a session at the Vancouver Writers’ Festival where my partner Robert Blackwood was the moderator interviewing a panel of six mystery authors, three of whom were from other countries. He asked these three to open the discussion on how the city in their mysteries served not only as backdrop but as a character in their books. The authors and their cities were Peike Birmann—Berlin; Paco Ignacio Taibo II—Mexico City and Kinky Friedman—New York City. The answers were illuminating but the question had dazzled me. Then and there, it handed me the book’s title: The City of the Magicians and established the City itself as a character.

Unfortunately, I did not start my current journal until February 18, 2011 and so missed the opportunity to record more closely the first thirteen years of creative developments. However, I keep all writing notes. Every one of them. My constant companions are a pen and a reporter’s spiral notebook easily slipped into a back pocket during outings or placed beside my pillow at night. Currently, I’m on notebook number 29. These are written in a shorthand I developed years ago for taking notes in class. More will be covered in a future post: “Writing Habits.”

The last chapter of City (now the ending of Book 3) was completed at 4:45 pm on Friday, February 17, 2012 after 13 and a half years and 898 pages later. Robert had bought champagne to celebrate and having read the last chapter said, “Don’t change a word!” Nor did I but an entry five years later (Tuesday February 7, 2017) indicated I had been continuously rewriting and editing the rest of the manuscript during that time to bring it up to the standard of the last chapter. Even then, the book had yet to undergo mitosis—a cellular division into the first three books of the first trilogy … but I get ahead of myself.

So while I’m personally cautious about set formulas for writing anything, and why the title of this blog was ammended to: How One Fantasy Series was Written, I hope the suggestions and advice offered here will help you write your own fantasy series.

First bit of advice?

Clear the next twenty years.

At least twenty.