Writing a series is a long and difficult process.
There are so many things we must keep straight between each book it can be easy to get lost or frustrated.
But tackling the three major problems you will run into will make the process easier.
It can be tempting to write the next book as if the story never left off. But readers expect each book to tell its own story, even when it’s part of a series.
Readers can quickly become disillusioned with a series, and a writer, if it doesn’t. They want to leave the book satisfied and ready for more.
Not hanging by a thread, or feeling like something was missing.
Each book should have its own conflict and final goal with stakes escalating toward the climax.
It may be easier to think of each book as a giant step toward reaching the series goal.
It should be a necessary part of the series that is large enough to warrant its own book.
Character arcs should not end with the first book but should continue throughout the series, presenting new challenges and opportunities to grow.
The best way to ensure this to give your characters multiple flaws to overcome one book at a time.
The readers should also become more familiar with your secondary characters as your series progresses.
The middle of the series is the best place to explore these characters and give them their own stake in the plot.
Use your secondary characters to drive the story forward and create conflict, deepening their relationships as they help or hinder your protagonist.
Readers will often go months or years since reading the last book of your series.
During that time, they’ve likely read dozens, if not hundreds, of other books.
Even if they’ve been patiently waiting for the next book of your series to come out, they’re not likely to remember where they left off, leaving them lost and struggling to figure out what’s going on.
This can become especially bothersome if they’re several books deep into the story.
I don’t know about you but trying to remember something that happened several books back that you read months or years ago with no reference is a pain, if not impossible, especially given the number of books I read each year.
The problem is we also don’t want our backstory to bog the story down, and each previous book adds to the backstory of the next one.
The easiest way to handle this is to treat it as a natural part of the story, inserting a line here or there as needed but never enough to make the reader’s eyes glaze over or start skimming.
If you need more, try to spread it out but only include what’s necessary to understand what’s going on or is integral to the story in some way.
Backstory is to be used merely as a reference. Nothing more.
The challenges of writing a series can seem daunting at times but can easily be overcome with enough hard work and perseverance.
Don’t let the thought of it overwhelm you. The goal should be to face it head on and stick with it until the end.
How many of you are currently working on a series right now?
FOR FURTHER READING
Renea strives to help writers develop the focus and skills they need to finish their first novel, offering writers practical writing advice they can apply one step at a time.
She is the author of Conquering Writing Pressures: Living a Balanced Writing Life in a Busy World where she helps writers find the courage to accept life will never be perfect. And if we want our dreams to succeed, we must fight to make them a reality.
She currently lives in St. Joseph, Missouri, with her husband Joe, her three children, and her five lovable furballs.
From a young age, Renea was mad for books and reading, and especially loved Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time series, which she read in the ninth grade.
She is an avid reader, with her main interests residing in history, mythology, and fantasy, along with some romance and science fiction in her earlier years.
When Renea’s not writing, she enjoys genealogy, role-playing games, and dreams of traveling the world. In a past life, she plucked chickens and milked cows.