This week on Hide and Create Joshua Essoe, Debbie Viguie, Michael Sullivan, and Jordan Ellinger talk about writing a book series.
I want to hit on some things to keep in mind when writing a series:
1. Continuation of character history, physical and personality traits. Don’t forget if Liz has that piercing in her left eyebrow or her right eyebrow. Or if Bobby McBoberson comes from Kentucky or Nebraska. Did Grammar Girl introduce Squiggly and Aardvark to each other, or did they meet on their own?
2. How much info do you repeat to remind readers what’s going on or to inform readers who don’t start at the beginning? There is always going to be a little repetition to get people back up to speed, but the trick is to get the balance right. From a reader’s standpoint it really irritates me when I have to read a great deal of repetitive exposition — especially if I’m binge reading.
3. What timescale are you using? Do you have an immutable character who is always just the way he or she is and goes from adventure to adventure? Kind of like Jack Reacher? Does that mean that after one harrowing event takes place the next book takes place a month, a week, a day afterward? Does this go on for a dozen books? Is that believable? Even Jack effing Bauer usually has a year between his insane 24 hours of crazy. The point is, it would be helpful to have some idea of the time lapse you’re planning. Do things change between books? What? If the character is constantly in action, do the seasons change? Do characters age? Or are they eternal like James Bond?
4. Consider your cover branding and theme when you’re doing book one. Make sure that you’ve figured out how you can make all the covers look like they are a part of the same set. It’s worth considering a branding strategy. As a great example, Joshua Simon, a client of mine who writes epic fantasy, uses bright, single-color covers with a single object on them for his Blood and Tears series. An axe, a helmet, a bloody dagger. The covers are all unique and all eye-catching, but because they use same fonts and placements of titles and author names, and the same theme, they are easily recognizable as a single series.
Finally, here is the link to the map-making article by Jonathan Roberts, the artist who does G.R.R.M’s maps, that I mention in the episode: http://www.fictorians.com/2013/04/29/here-there-be-dragons-maps-in-fiction/