If any of you have written a book and left it open-ended, there is room for a series. Writing a series can be complicated. The biggest challenge is being consistent.
A large percentage of mysteries are serials. So when I wrote White Light, I went the extra mile and made notes—started a bible—on the people, places, things, and events. Most of us do this as a reference anyway. Before giving this a go, I snooped around for more…
Romances tend to be linked through a theme—firefighters, siblings, etc. As one book ends a subplot of another romance may be just beginning, moving a supporting cast member to the forefront. As the new romance blossoms, different cast members slide into the background.
Fantasy and Sci-Fi series may be linked by the setting. Here the rules of the world must be established early, tracked and honored. My examples are: Harry Potter Series, The Hobbit/Lord of the Rings, or The Saga of Seven Suns. Some characters change and the timeline can be quite lengthy.
Mysteries don’t just keep the supporting cast but also a certain tone or atmosphere. They range from hard-boiled to cozy and these elements must remain constant throughout. The supporting cast and subplots carry the series forward. However, the settings, and mysteries may change with every book.
Musts of a Series
- Make the rule; keep the rule.
- Backstory is a must to keep the reader in the know.
- Track everyone, every place and every event, using a bible.
- Choose a time period, and time span.
- Conflict and tension must escalate over the series
- Fill every plot hole, keep logic in the forefront.
- Lampshades, gimmicks, and shortcuts.
- Changing rules from one book to the next.
- Not answering all story questions.
- Resolutions that are illogical, a quick fix or deus ex machina.
Standalone or Not
I’m not sure if it’s me, but I’m seeing a pattern of standalone books within a series. I prefer them to anything else. I’m not forced to read them in order, although I probably will. I feel writers have a responsibility to do their best for the readers that stick with a series.
What do you think?