Wednesday, April 27, 2011

CREATING A SERIES FOR NOVELISTS

Novels in a series are popular. Readers enjoy following the lives of characters they know and so they are eager to read the next novel. A series is usually based on a family or a town, and each novel introduces characters who will appear in the next novel and each novel also includes characters from the past novels in that series. So writing a series makes novel writing more complex.

The author must keep excellent records of the basic details and descriptions of the characters, homes, town buildings, and events in each novel, because readers will find discrepancies of the author veers away from the original story. Birth dates and dates when things happened need to be calculated carefully. Accuracy is the key.

A series is successful when the author follows a few basic steps to insure readers will enjoy each story as much as they did the first one. Here are a few things to keep in mind when creating a series.

• A series can be contemporary or historical or a combination. To add interest to a series, try a series that deals with a contemporary plot, and then step back in time and do the next one exploring the families past. This technique can help to explain issues that occurred in the contemporary novel and can set up new problems that will arise in the next book.

• Search some past novels that had a secondary character that intrigued you and has stayed in your mind. Begin with that character from the past and create a new series connected to that character, his or her family or friends.

• For a quality series that will hook readers, allow the characters in your first novel to grow and change in a realistic way that will intrigue readers so they want to know what will happen after the first book is finished.

• Set up a new series by creating an intriguing secondary character that arouses the readers interest and proposes possible issues that will arise in that character’s life for the next book. This is one of the most popular ways to create a series. You can use sisters, brothers, neighbors, friends, or members of an organization that you introduce casually to the readers in the first book and then allow them to have their own stories later.

• Expand your setting by opening the first book in the series in a specific town and then provide a reason for the secondary character of the next book to move or travel to another location for their own story. You can keep the characters is the first novel connected to the new story through phone, letters or emails.

• Be faithful to your own writing style and preferences. Your readers are drawn to your novels by certain qualities that you offer in your stories. Don’t lose sight of those elements when creating a series. Be true to you and your talent.

• Continue to write about things that interest you. When you’re enthusiastic about your writing project, the excitement will reach your readers. Let your research lead you into new ideas to broaden your concerns and involvements.

• Each novel must stand alone to make it a satisfying read for your fans. Don’t leave them hanging with big issues. You can set up an element that’s almost a throw-away thought or foreshadowing. Example: He realizes his job might be transferred to another state, but don’t let it happen. That can occur in the next book and will then affect the next story characters. Tie up the loss ends and give the readers a satisfying ending.

• Use critique partners or faithful readers to do a test run of each of the novel series to make sure that the facts are accurate and then new story is believable. Make sure your characters stay the same from book one to book two except for growth elements which are natural, but those should have happened in the previous book in most cases. Ask these readers for honest feedback.

If you follow these ideas, you can create a series that keeps readers happy and stimulates new ideas for your next book proposal.

5 comments:

Darke Conteur said...

Thank-you for this. I'm working on a series and I'm going to bookmark this for future reference. :)

Martha Ramirez said...

This is GREAT advice! Thank you, Gail.

Sheri said...

Thanks for sharing. I need to make sure that I keep careful track of all those little details. :)

Gail Gaymer Martin said...

Glad you all found this helpful. Most of my last few novels were connected in a series. I've learned not to make the series too long. I did a seven book one and keeping track of everything was horrendous. Now I stay with three.
Thanks and I'll be adding a new topic soon.

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