Writing a Book Series

Writing a Book Series
I have many people ask me: Is there a different skill set to writing a book series than writing a stand-alone novel?Writing a series of books can be much more difficult than a standalone novel, as the tone of the books, the story lines, and plot twists all need to sustain themselves throughout multiple novels.I feel that a series can take two forms:1) Multiple standalone books featuring the same characters, with nods to a unifying story arch. They usually continue years or weeks in story time after each other. Any of these books can be picked up and enjoyed without necessarily having to read the preceding books in the series.
Repairman Jack Series – F.Paul Wilson
The Stainless Steel Rat Series – Harry Harrison
Retief Series – Keith Laumer2) Multiple books that are continuances of the overall story and usually have a Series Title as well as Book Title. There is usually no story time lag between books – they are true continuances. The series books are not standalone, you need to have read the preceding issues.
The Belgariad – David Eddings
Shannara Series – Terry Brooks
Game of Thrones – George R.R. Martin

The Rebel, Lies of Lesser Gods Book Two is written and in the process of being edited and definitely falls under the second category. It is actually harder for me to write than The Exile , book one of the series.

The Exile , as the establishing book of Lies of Lesser Gods, set the tone for the remainder of the adventure. For book two, The Rebel, I am now constrained to maintaining this tone. I want to do it right – and that means Rewrites. But regardless, it is a labour of love. I am passionate about the characters and what befalls them, their trials, their loves and hates, and how these forces shape and change them over time. I know I have it right when I get lost in the story, and forget that I’m supposed to be copy editing.

But maintaining all the story lines and arcs can become quite confusing, especially as book three of the series sits in the gate awaiting treatment.

I suppose every author has their own way of dealing with maintaining the story. This is mine.

I have a large card collection, stored in an old recipe box, that contains every character, what they look like, what motivates them, any quirks, and any conflicts. I also have a story map – complete with pins anchoring string of different colours – that shows the evolution of story lines, how they interact with the characters and the outcomes of each. In the end, the strings interact with each other and eventually, hopefully, untangle by the end of the series!
This helps me to maintain the tone of the tale, avoid any logic bombs, and ensure strong motivations and purposes for the characters.

Keep Organized!
Keep Organized!


Do you have a better way, or another way? Let me know!

Good Luck with your efforts. Leave a comment, ask a question and if this was helpful, please share it with your friends!





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