One of the questions that I have had to deal with is trying to decide whether or not my story is worthy of being a series. Most of the books I read are part of a series, and it is really tempting to think that maybe I could write a series too. So let’s discuss this a bit. What makes a good series? What makes people pick up not just one book, but several? In a row? There are really only two reasons to write a series.
- Story. There are a lot of stories out there that are just too big for one book. Examples of this that I have enjoyed include Harry Potter by J K Rowling, Percy Jackson by Rick Riordan, Sabina Kane by Jaye Wells, and Lord of the Rings by J R R Tolkien. If you have a large, complicated story then you might want to consider breaking it up into a series. The number of books all depends on how big your story is. There are many series that are three books (a trilogy), but you can always use more if needed. Harry Potter had seven volumes, and L Ron Hubbard once wrote a series that had ten volumes.
- Characters. Some stories are only enough for a single book, but the characters in the book have more stories to tell. Examples of this that I like are Stephanie Plum by Janet Evanovich, Downside Ghosts by Stacia Kane, and Harry Dresden by Jim Butcher. Sometimes you might think that you only have one story to tell, but if people love the character you might try to write a follow-up. Just try to remember that you can’t force it. Trying to force your character into a story that he doesn’t want to be in is not going to be any good for you as an author or anyone trying to read it.
It can be easier to sell a series to a publisher, as they are just as eager to have more than one book to sell to your fans. However, this can make it even harder for the author. Story based series will have to be able to keep the plot going over several books, with the readers eager to find out what happens next. Character based series can be even harder because the reader will have to love the character, and they will expect a level of growth from the character between the books.
I would love to write a series, but I’m not sure if I should. When I first started writing Dragons at Dawn I was thinking that it might be a good story for a trilogy. I still think it has the potential, but certainly not as it was originally written. I am writing Finding Valhalla as a one shot book, but as the story develops I keep thinking that maybe it is going to be too big for one book. I don’t think the heroine would be used for a sequel, but I could definitely see writing about a different Valkyrie at some point in the future.
Please leave a comment about how you feel about writing a series. Have you written any yourself? If so, what obstacles did you run into?