This particular subject is close to my heart as I begin a detective series. As a free flow/panster writer, I always let the characters take charge. However, now, I have to plan a plot arc across three books. So let’s see what is required for a book series.
Firstly, know what makes writing a series different. A series has a multi-novel continuity with longer-term, series wide developments. The ending of one book should also be the hook for the following book and there should be a central conflict and tense that sustains interest. Create a compelling title for the series and each book in the series.
Secondly, there should be subplots that propel each book forward to the larger or main conflict. These subplots create smaller rises and falls in the story tension. This allows each book to have its own self-contained struggle and opportunity for growth of the characters.
You need to create a compelling central conflict for the series but also have secondary obstacles to the main characters path, with additional complications that delay the main resolution. Also move your characters through multiple settings with distinctive interests, surprises and challenges. In short, create a fictional world readers want to return to.
To aid your series ensure you outline the series in advance, enabling you to understand how each book relates to another. Establish your central characters early, however reveal their backstories gradually so your readers become engaged in their lives. Give them faults, show how their environment affects them and decide how they will change from book to book. You can also change the cast of your characters as the series continues.
Make sure you give each book in the series a strong central event. Remember that each book should stand on its own to a degree. A reader should be able to start with book four and not find the story so bewildering that they’re completely lost. To make each novel in your series work well as a standalone work – have a strong central event and image for each book and create a secondary conflict and partial resolution for each novel. This can be by your characters acquiring a skill, conviction or strategy. With the introduction of tension with uncertainty and unknowns the reader will want to know what comes next.
Plan in advance.
Provide a resolution of part of the narrative at the end of each story but carry elements over to the next book.
Maintain an overarching plot and character arcs. Give your characters time to develop over the series.
Maintain consistency with backstories, attributes, settings and plot from the previous books. Keep a record of details and timelines so you can reference it as you write.
Weave reminders into each novel to a lesser degree.
Do you have any tips you can share in regard to writing a book series?