Is Series Writing for You? Part 1

       How big is your book idea? In fiction, it might cover generations as in Philippa Gregory's Cousins' War and Plantagenet and Tudor Series, or growth of the main character which occurs in Nancy Drew mysteries. Have your pick of nonfiction topics that can blossom into a series from a single topic; series such as The Magic School Bus and the Body Works series; My Messy Body, My Noisy Body, etc.

        If you're like me you might start small, believing your idea will be covered in one standalone book. That's good, as we know your book needs to be submitted as a standalone. My desire to expand my book idea into a series (I am currently working on Book 2 while Book 1 continues to be primped and prodded) developed in ways I have since found to be common.

Why Turn a Perfectly Good Book into a Series?

        That's easy. You've got to:
  • Fall in love with your characters, especially the main ones, who have so much more life to live that you can't possibly stop now.
  • Write in a genre that lends itself to series, such as mystery, ghost stories, romance, westerns, historical novels, fantasy and sci fi.
  • Believe that series sell well and publishers like to buy multiple books because series attract readers.
  • Know that the groundwork in the first book will work again, and again, and again.

       Authors who write series promise readers that the fun doesn't have to end, that there's more excitement to come, more adventure and world's to explore, more of these lives to be lived.
                                        Karen S. Wiesner, Writing the Fiction Series: The Complete Guide for Novels and Novellas

  • Weisner quotes author Thomas Helm: Author and reader dread the end, which is the test of a good novel. Why not expand it into a series?
  • Love reading series, from childhood on. If like me you love reading series books, then you thrive on the familiar feelings series provoke.
  • Enjoy the setting of your story and look forward to expanding on it so your characters can explore worlds, far and wide.    
      The list is never-ending. If you're already writing a series or are contemplating writing one, then your heart of hearts already knows why you want to make your book into a series. For me, this desire developed. In the beginning, going from writing short stories to writing my book was more of an undertaking then I ever could have imagined. One of my biggest challenges was keeping track of the story! What was happening where and to whom! In a nutshell, structure is what saved me. For one way to build story structure, go to March 28, 2013 for a post on "The Tent Pole Structure":

What? Turn my Masterpiece into a Series? Not!

        Before delving into the mechanics of series writing, which will be discussed in future posts, let's take a look at some of the ways to avoid the pitfalls, for there are many. You will find a way to make the pieces fit together. A way that works for you.  
     It's a good idea to:

  • Make an overall outline that shows how each novel relates to the others.
  • Have an overall plot plan as well as a plan for each novel.
  • Be organized. Know where your series will end. Plot a timeline to keep track of events.
  • Choose a central conflict or premise for your series that "is the main tension or unknown that needs to be solved."

               In . . . Harry Potter, the central conflict is the protagonist's unfinished business with the villain, Lord Voldemort. In Tolkien's Lord of the rings Trilogy, the central conflict is between the world-dominion-seeing antagonist Sauron and the elves and hobbits who desire peace and freedom from tyranny."

  • Keep track of the details and connecting threads among the novels in order to maintain continuity.
  • Plan for the passage of time and how your characters will age.

        You might wonder What am I getting myself into? I have, many times. But to help me decide what to do, I did a simple Google and Amazon search and found terrific information from the wonderful authors who have shared what they've learned. Once I nail down my research, I will share the resources I have found in the next few months as I continue to explore this topic.

Next month: Tips on How to Write a Series

Linda Wilson, a former elementary teacher and ICL graduate, has published over 100 articles for adults and children, and six short stories for children. Recently, she completed Joyce Sweeney's online fiction courses, picture book course and mystery and suspense course. She has currently finished her first book, a mystery/ghost story for 8-12 year-olds, and is in the process of publishing it. Follow Linda on Facebook.


Karen Cioffi said...

Linda, I love the series idea. I've been trying to write the 2nd book to Walking Through Walls for over two years. Readers love series. Thanks for sharing!

Linda Wilson said...

You're welcome, Karen. It is a challenge but fun to expand on your characters' lives. I love the title of your book!

Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

I love the part about the reluctance to tinker with one's masterpiece. Mmm. Just maybe even more people would read the masterpiece? I always watch for your posts, Linda!

Linda Wilson said...

Thanks, Carolyn. You are always so encouraging, I love that and your books and everything else about you!

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