There’s nothing like a good series, and they’re a fun, exciting way to stretch yourself as a writer. They’re also a huge commitment. We’ll go over the basics of not only how but why you should develop a series.
Why Write a Series?
A series, even a loosely knit one, lets you enjoy your hard work developing characters and worlds over more than a single narrative. World building is no joke, and once you have a great science fiction or fantasy setting, it almost seems like a waste to abandon it after a single quest. A series lets you expand on your world and continue developing your best characters. Readers also enjoy a series. They come back to your work, knowing they already like the characters and world you’re selling, so it’s a win on both fronts.
Is Your Story Right for a Series?
As great as a series can be, it works best in several specific genres. Series most often appear on science fiction, fantasy, romance, crime, and YA shelves. That said, you can make a series in any genre, including literary fiction, if you have the right ingredients.
You may have a story that is just too long for a single book. The Lord of the Rings is a perfect example of a single, massive narrative shattering into a series. It was always destined for a limited run, of course, but it’s one of the most famous series of all time.
If you have a particularly large cast who clearly have interesting back stories and personalities that you can’t showcase in your first story, you can swap primary characters in later series entries. You can also tell a story that centers around a particular place that has a lot of history, like the Redwall series.
Ultimately, if you sit there, staring at your massive world and abundance of characters, knowing you’ll never give them their due in a single story, you have the beginning of a series on your hands.
Plan a Series from the Beginning
If you plan – or even hope – to write a series, start planning for the future now. Plant seeds for future stories in ongoing drama, careless rumors from townsfolk, or situations the characters do not have the time or talent to resolve on their way to their final destination. Compromises characters make in order to survive the current quest may dissolve or lead to conflict in your next story. You don’t have to have absolutely everything outlined, but take notes and don’t feel pressured to tie up all your loose ends.
Invest in Your Characters
Good characters drive the series. Although Sherlock and Watson solved plenty of interesting cases, it was the characters’ dynamic that drew readers back. When Doyle killed off Sherlock, fangirls didn’t take to the streets in mourning garb just because they wanted more mysteries. Plenty of other authors wrote crime thrillers, but only one wrote Sherlock.
Moving into your series, focus on character development and drive in later books with the same attention to motivation you gave the first story. Character goals drive all plots, no matter how far into the series they develop.
Ready to get writing? Your series probably already set roots in your heart if you clicked on this article. The sooner you finish the first book, the sooner you can build it out into a series!