Writing a Series: The Pros and Cons
All my life, I’ve wanted to write an epic fantasy series. So one day, I decided to do just that. I brainstormed a plot, I developed the characters, and I set out with a lot of excitement and a little bit of fear. Eight years later, I finally completed my six-book Cartharia series. Wow, what a ride! Now that I’m finally finished, I’ve decided to go over the pros and cons for writing a series.
The Pros for Writing a Series
First of all, let’s talk about the pros of writing a series. This doesn’t just apply to fantasy novels. You could be writing a series of crime mysteries, or even a long-arcing romance series. Your series can be about any number of things, but the pros stay the same.
People Get Invested
So you finished your hopeful best-seller, you’ve gone through the editing process, and you’ve either self-published or gone through a traditional publisher. You’re ready for your book to hit the shelves (or the kindle store — because we all know that Amazon sells the most books these days, though that’s a topic for another time). People begin reading your story. They fall in love with the characters and they’re not ready to let them go. That’s because people become invested in characters. If you write a series, there’s a good chance that the popularity from the first one will get people to read the second, third, of tenth.
You Get a Chance to Really Build Out Your World
No matter what kind of series you’re writing, you’re going to need a world. Even if your story takes place in modern day Earth, there’s still world-building to do. You want to set the scene, and really do it justice. For example, if your main character is a detective, you get the opportunity to really get into their business, and show what kind of city and environment they live in. If you’re building a fantasy world, you get the chance to really show what kind of world it is. You can go into politics of the other regions, and the weather patterns, and everything in between.
Your Characters Get the Opportunity to Really Develop
Every character progresses, whether it’s a stand alone book or in a series. However, in a series, you really get to give them the opportunity to evolve and change without it happening too quickly. You can take time to show how relationships develop over time. By the time my series was done, the characters really had the chance to grow up, and that’s something that was amazing to write.
The Cons of Writing a Series
Of course, there are cons to writing a series too. You might be surprised how complicated it can get.
Keeping Things Consistent
When you’re writing a multi-book series, you might be surprised at how quickly you can forget things. What kind of coffee does your main character drink? What sort of clothing does your secondary character prefer? What’s everyone’s eye color and height? You want to make sure that when you’re writing a series, you take a lot of notes, because nothing sucks worse than realizing a character actually has hazel eyes in the first book but talking about their baby blues in the book five. You also want to make sure your plot stays keep consistent. Remember: if people are reading your first book, chances are they’ll want to read the second. But if there are gaping plot holes in book two, nothing is going to inspire them to come back for book three! So watch yourself and make sure your plot stays consistent throughout all of your novels.
Keeping the Plot Interesting
One of the biggest mistakes that I see people make when writing a series is losing the steam they had in the first book. They wrote book one and two perfectly but by the time book three rolls around, things kind of start falling flat. You run out of ideas for battle scenes in your military book, or you run out of obstacles for your star-crossed lovers to solve in your romance. You want to make sure that each book has it’s own theme, and can stand on its own two feet. Some people will benefit from an outline, where others might just write by the seat of their pants. Either way can be beneficial, but you want to make sure that you’re not regurgitating the same scenes in slightly different ways!
People Might Not Like Your First Book
This part is hard to admit, but people may just not be interested in your first book. Therefore, our final con for this list is exactly that. If people don’t like the first book in the series, what’s going to convince them to come back for the rest of the series? That’s why it’s important that you make sure your first book is good enough to draw readers in. It should have a plot that compels people to pick it up and never put it down.
Writing a series is a scary thing, and you want to make sure you’re ready for lots of rewrites. Make sure that your character’s personalities are consistent, that they grow as people, and that your plot stays interesting and on subject. For everyone who’s writing a series, good luck! It can be a frightening thing, but it can also be quite wonderful. For more advice, leave a comment, and I’ll be happy to answer any questions you might have!