Tips for Writing a Book Series

Hello, Everyone!

Sorry about the half-a-post yesterday. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I deleted it after I accidently published it … but I’m pretty sure it went out to everyone who receives email notifications of new posts. Sorry about that. I’m not perfect. ๐Ÿ˜›

Today I’ll be giving you a few tips for writing a book series. ๐Ÿ™‚

Know when to stop. Eventually, it’s time to write the last book in a series and move on to something new. You can’t stick with your beloved characters forever, and if the series keeps going on for a hundred books, your reader is going to loose interest at some point. Stop writing when you don’t have another book to write.

Don’t be inconsistent. A character can’t have red hair in the first book and blonde hair in the second book … unless he or she dyed it … and why would anyone dye red hair? It’s perfect as it is! ๐Ÿ˜‰ So get your facts straight. But more importantly, be true to your character’s personality, way of speaking, way of acting. Nothing’s worse than a character who changes from the end of the last book to the start of the next without reason … especially if he/she happens to be your reader’s favorite character!

Remember that each volume is also an individual story. It must have a beginning, middle, and end … introduction, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution.

Don’t make each book exactly like the last. Star Wars fans are already speculating about the eighth Star Wars movie, and I’ve heard a few people say that they think the 8, 9, and 10 are going to mirror the original three … same old plot. I don’t know what you think, but the only thing that comes my mind is bad idea. Your books are part of a series; they should be similar; they should not be identical. Don’t be predictable!

Don’t recap too much at the start of every book. If your reader insists upon reading your books out of order, don’t make it too easy on him. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Seriously, though, extensive recapping is unnecessary and boring to a reader who’s reader the first couple books, and downright dull to a reader who hasn’t. Avoid it. If you must recap, spread it out a little; don’t begin the book with page after pageย summarizing the first books in the series.

Although writing a series of books instead of a stand-alone is much more difficult, if you have the material to do so, it’s a good idea. If the reader likes the first book, he or she will likely read the next one … and the next one … and the next one.

Thanks for reading and have a nice mid-week.

~Kellyn Roth

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27 thoughts on “Tips for Writing a Book Series

  1. Exactly! And it’s usually halfway finished. I try not to overthink this because I’m the kind of person who obsesses over small things that happened 5 years ago. I just try really hard to not care, it’s not incredibly effective.

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  2. Ah, I like this post! I usually plan on writing stand alone books, but then at the end, I always have so many loose ends and more ideas, so then I leave it open for a sequel…and run off after a plot bunny and never come back to it again. But hopefully I’ll get better at this, because series are cool. I have problems with planning though…and while planning a whole book is hard enough, planning a series… o_o

    Anyway, that was some random rambling…what I really meant to say was, nice post!

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  3. I’m more of a plotter than a pantser. I think series are probably harder for pantsers … but, then, who knows? Obviously pantsers get books done so why should they get series done?! ๐Ÿ˜€

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  4. I think that writing a series as a pantser would definitely take a lot more revision afterward, and you might even have to write the whole series before publishing the first one, but I like pantsing better. I find it more fun, heh.

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  5. Yeah, I guess so. ๐Ÿ˜€ Planning doesn’t really feel like planning to me. I can never keep my characters out of my mind for five seconds flat. ๐Ÿ˜„ I have to GET OUT of my little private world to make myself do anything else … especially, like, school … or sports.

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  6. Haha, really? I think that’s awesome. Sometimes that happens to me, but only sometimes. Usually I have to choose to think about them first. Maybe that’s why I’m so bad with procrastination…

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  7. Oh definitely, especially the first part. Although I slightly disagreeโ€”don’t stop when there isn’t another book to write, stop when the characters are done. One of my favorite book series had a rumor of being a fifth book, even though the fourth was technically the last book of the series. The author posted a blog post saying that there wouldn’t be a fifth book, because even though there was plenty of potential for more plot, the character arcs had left the characters where she wanted them in book four, and if she wrote another book, it’d probably end up with stagnant charactersโ€”or worse.
    (And even though I was sad I wouldn’t be able to read a fifth book, I am so grateful she both recognized that and made that decision, because those characters meant a lot to me and I’d hate it if she ruined them with another book.)

    Good post!

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  8. That’s probably true. Though, technically, the character development is part of the story.

    In one series I read, it seemed to me that, though the character arches may have been completed, the author stopped at a terrible place! There was a war on and the husband of the main character went off to war in the end! Talk about a bad time to complete the character arcs! ๐Ÿ˜›

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  9. Yeah, you’re right. It was satisfying (in that series) to see all the characters settled and fulfilled, etc., but … how do we know Joe got through the war safely? ๐Ÿ˜„

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  10. Pshaw, it’s practically published. Who cares about the details? ๐Ÿ™‚

    And considering I haven’t published a book and you have, it hasn’t taken as long as I have!

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