Today, some of the most famous novels are usually part of a series. I, personally, am fond of them. Being able to follow my favourite characters for a longer time though a series is a joy. The anticipation I have when picking up the next instalment is something I enjoy very much. But like everything else in life, there are times when things have not worked out well and even ended in absolute disappointment. As an enthusiastic reader of series, I would like to put out a few things I think you should consider when writing a series.
Have a story that will span throughout the series
One of the biggest mistakes you could make when writing a series would be to select a story that does not extend from the beginning to the end. You do not want to start a second or third instalment of your series and realise your story has lost steam in between. Therefore, before you think about writing a series, you have to be absolutely sure that your story has what it takes to carry on for more than one book. Your story is the backbone to your novel, and hence one of the most important aspects that you should work on before beginning a series. When you write a series without considering the potential of the story, you end up creating an instalment that fizzles out halfway. Most writers will find themselves unable to finish a sequel when the story isn’t strong enough. The book ends up being a drag and they usually find themselves giving up. If you actually manage to finish it, your readers will lose interest quickly and be extremely disappointed. One of the best ways to assure this doesn’t happen is to have a universal plot for the entire series and subplots for each book in the series. A good example would be the Harry Potter series where the universal plot is the fight against the antagonist, Voldermort, while each book focuses on one year of Harry’s school life. Each book has it’s own series of events that enable it to stand as a complete novel while at the same time taking the universal plot forward. Sometimes, your subplots can be about the lives of different characters set in the same universe. Each book would tell the story of a different character, but they would always have that common factor (shared universe, shared family or shared destiny) that would bring them together to do something. The important point is to be certain that your story holds steadfast from start to finish.
Make sure you are consistent
A series is a series because it has the aspect of continuity. That shared factor that is present between the individual books of a series is indispensable and should be consistent. If you have the same characters throughout the series, then details like their background should obviously remain the same. If one of your character’s was an only child in book one you cannot have her talk about a sister in book five. The same applies to the details of a universe you created. If your universe has certain rules in book one, they should remain the same throughout the series—unless the change is part of the plot and is supposed to move the story forward. You cannot change features of your series when you move from one instalment to the other without any reason, logic or explanation. It disrupts the continuity and takes away greatly from the series.
Be aware of the passage of time
Development is inevitable when writing a series. Most series span over a considerable amount of time and change, growth, and evolution are bound to happen. From basic things like hairstyles to drastic ones like death of a major character, anything is possible in a series—within reason, of course. If your series spans over years, then your characters have to grow older and their bodies have to have at least slight changes. Depending on their experiences, the behavioural patterns and characteristics would also change, bonds would form or break, opinions could change and new sides of people could emerge. However, it would not be natural to suddenly bring about a change but rather incorporate it slowly into the story. This way, it blends in seamlessly and becomes very believable. Characters that do not change, even in the slightest, from beginning to end are not very convincing. Even though the story may not take place over years, the experiences that your characters go through should be able to bring about changes in them. Passing of time always brings about change in one form or other.
Know when to stop
Some writers find themselves so in love with their characters that they keep writing even when they have run out of ideas. This is actually dangerous. You would be going down a slope from which your series will never recover. To be honest, you’ll probably be writing useless things. Your characters may no longer have any aim, and your readers will just want things to end. The highest chances are that you’ll be repeating your plot with just slight differences. Therefore, you should plan and be aware of the right moment to stop your story.
I hope this helps bring some clarity while brainstorming for your series. Do you have any tips to add to the list? Feel free to comment.
About the Author
Christy is a student, part-time writer, and a full-time Wannabe. She devours books and binges shows.