My 4 Rules for Writing a Book Series

 

by Chloe-Anne Ross

So I’m about to start writing a trilogy, something I’ve never done before. I’ve got everything I need for a good story: characters I want to follow and a story I want to follow through with. I’m thrilled to be writing it and also scared as all hell.

It is lucky for anyone who is, has or wants to do the same thing that there is a multitude of series out there. It is by reading them that I’ve discovered what to avoid and what I have to remember when getting those words down. So here they are!

 

1.Let your characters grow up.

The best thing about reading a series is that we get to watch the characters grow up, make mistakes and mature. It doesn’t even matter if they’re not children when we meet them, the path that they’re on will inevitable change them and their life. Reading a lot of book series will teach you that with age,  maturity does come with life experience.

 

2.Make everything relevant to the story.

Series novels can be the worst for including content that isn’t necessary to the story. It’s good to grow your content so that by the time readers finish the book they don’t say this could have been in the other book’  but just adding more content that drives readers away from the main story and it’s subplots and into useless scenes is just going to be boring for readers.

There can and will be scenes that maybe the story could be told without, but as long as it’s relevant to character development and their own story arch (and to put it bluntly – as long as it’s interesting as well as relevant) go ahead. The biggest problem about adding scenes like these is that you could go too far.

You could write a great book, add scenes in when you go to edit and write have an okay novel that should have been two books (I’m looking at you Mockingjay!).

 

3.You must continue to tell one story but have each book as its own story.

This is a balance I struggle to find. I don’t want to read a series that’s one dragged out story. Looking at each book as a new adventure keeps things more entertaining and offers up a new world to mess with. Having said that, cliffhangers blur the lines here. With a cliffhanger the story it technically over but there are still questions to answer and battles to fight.

When I write I make each book a new beginning for the character as it’s a new book for me to write and another book for the readers (assuming when I do publish a book I’m lucky enough to have readers).

It’s good because the amount of time you put into one book and publishing it and the gap between when your readers finish the previous one and start the second means that as much as you are continuing with this series and the journey it is a new beginning for reader and writer too.

 

4.Keep introducing new people and environments with each book.

Watching characters adapt to life changes and come face to face with new challenges is fascinating and people, friend or foe, can be challenging too. Just as your character changes over time, their world does too and as a reader, I want to watch that happening to/around them.

 

Hopefully, some of this advice was useful to you, I’m really just giving out my un-professional opinion and some of the rules I stick to.

Happy Writing!

 

 

 

Guest post contributed by Chloe-Anne Ross. Chloe-Anne is a student in Glasgow, a recovering coffee addict with a good imagination.

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20 thoughts on “My 4 Rules for Writing a Book Series”

  1. 😉 Thank you! I’m in the middle of mine and about to finish the first book (I started in the middle accidentally–did a Tolkien). I love doing it though. It’s like every day is an adventure. Good luck and Godspeed. 😁

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  2. Great list! I’m working through revisions on the start of a trilogy right now (a little half-heartedly as I have a ton on my plate) and this is really useful in thinking through the story arc, both for this book and for the trilogy as a whole. Good luck on your project!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks! Good post. I’d like to add something. I saw a movie the other day, where all the dialogues was about the main story. The movie was bad, I don’t even renember it’s name. Point is, there has to be more to the characters than the main plot too, if not it gets strange and shallow. Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. One of the things that drives me crazy in any series is when an author can’t decide what the next developmental step for the character is and so resets that character back to zero (reverts to type). I’ve seen this more times than I care to recall and it’ll make me DNF a book or series in many cases these days.

    A general example would be at the end of book 1, Protagonist has been elevated from destitute status to the Lord or Lady of a prestigious manor with all of the powers and rights that entails. However, the chief draw for the character (or perhaps for the author) throughout the book as been to present the perspective of an impoverished character.

    For whatever reason (the author can’t conceive of how to develop the character from this point forward or the author is simply interested in the character as presented only from a destitute state), book 2 sees Protagonist reset back to poverty within the first few chapters (in the most egregious cases, either chapter 1 or the prologue).

    Do not do this. Either find new and undiscovered arc for your character or retire him/her and bring in someone new.

    Liked by 1 person

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