Writing can be tough. One definitely does not wake up full of inspiration and productivity every single day. In fact, most days are spent looking for inspiration. However, the hunt for the bright mythical light bulb that is guaranteed to fill you with brilliant idea after idea, doesn’t come easy.
Single title authors have to worry about one book at a time. Imagine the level of stress authors writing a series must face! Not only must we find enough inspiration to come up with a stellar story, but we have to keep the momentum going throughout the series and give our readers an epic ride.
Don’t get me wrong, writing a series is exciting! You get to keep living in the world you've created with all the characters you love so dearly and mold them into something great. The part where it gets tricky is trying to figure out what elements are needed to take your characters and story to the next level.
After an intense brainstorming session that involved several salty snacks –to help with inspiration of course– I discovered that a series is like a puzzle. All pieces must strategically fit together to create the final masterpiece.
Let’s take a look at what those pieces are!Here are the top 5 things every book series needs:
1. Character Development. Think of yourself five years ago, or even a year ago; are you the same? Whether it’s something tiny or something significant, you’ve changed. This also applies to your characters. They need to grow while still keeping the characteristics that made readers – and yourself – fall in love with them. In my opinion, the simplest way to develop a character all starts with their goals. Determine how their goals from the previous book tie into their new objectives for each book that follows. Once the idea is laid out you’ll find that making the necessary transitions will be much smoother and more authentic.
2. Attention to Details. Before starting your next book within the series, always refer back to original notes. If Suzie had blue eyes in book one and now has green eyes in book two, you’ve got a problem. Readers will notice the details and inconsistencies which will guarantee for your book to become a permanent resident within the ‘DID NOT FINISH’ pile. Sort through the details – yes, even the small ones – with a fine toothed comb. Trust me, its worth it.
3. Recap.Within the first chapter of every new instalment, there needs to be a brief recap of the previous events that unfolded. It’s important to refresh the memory of your readers and take that moment to regain the connection to your story so they can flow right back into it. Never assume that readers will jump in with the same passion they left with. You must recreate it. This also applies to new readers. The retelling makes them aware the story is in fact a series and give just enough information that they can decide to keep going or seek out the first book and start the from the beginning.
4. Plot Evolution.You have to go deeper and throw a wrench in your wheel to keep readers on their toes. If everything remains the same in a series, it gets old real fast. Make it interesting! Add new characters, change settings/surroundings and do the unthinkable. Life isn’t linear, your series shouldn’t be either. Evolution sometimes can bring desolation and destruction, as an author you must not be afraid to push and test the limits of not only the characters, but readers too!
5. The Fangirl Moments.What exactly do I mean by this? A series needs to give readers the moments they crave the most. How would you know what those moments are? Read your reviews! Booklovers are extremely open when it comes to stating what they’re looking forward to the most in your future work. By no means does this entail that they must dictate how your story is told, not at all; however if when shifting through reviews you discover that there’s an overall consensus of what your readers want, give them a piece of it! By providing readers with their ‘fangirl moments’ they will praise the series in future reviews, which will give you plenty of free advertising than can turn into sales!
So there you have it! Knowing where to start makes execution seem much less daunting. Feel free to add to this list! After all, sharing is caring!