How to Write a Series of Novels Your Readers Will Love

“Writing a series is daunting.

Each installment must both stand alone and work as part of the whole. You’re forced to keep up with all the elements you exploit in a single novel and make sure they serve the entire entity: characters, plot, settings, everything.

Having written six adult series and ten children’s series, I can say I learned quickly that I had to re-read the previous title before starting the next, every time.

Was that really necessary?

The one time I tried to shortcut the process I found myself more than halfway through the writing of the next title in The Left Behind Series™ when I had a sinking feeling.

One of the global curses I had included was a decrease in the power of the sun by one-third. So my characters in the desert suddenly had to wear long pants, sweaters, coats, hats. Made sense.

But hadn’t that curse been lifted near the end of the previous title? A rather significant development, if I was right.

And I was. A fast re-read of that previous title confirmed my suspicion. The desert was back to full aridity. I had to go back to the beginning of the current manuscript and re-dress my characters!

A Crucial Checklist

Navigating the delicate balance between satisfying your reader with each book and keeping them longing for the next, you must remain vigilant on many fronts.

Ask yourself:

  • Do I risk frustrating my reader by stretching the story to accommodate a series, rather than ensuring that each title works on its own?
  • Am I able to keep each installment relatively similar in length and time span covered?
  • Have I provided enough variety in voice, narrator, and perspective characters without jeopardizing the consistency of the message and tone?”
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