Through the months of November and December, some fab writers would take over Daily (w)rite. I still have a few slots open for December, so I would welcome guest posts by writers who have something to say about the art, craft, and business of writing. Write me a mail at atozstories at gmail dot com to discuss this.
Today, I welcome Rick Gualtieri. He has a great blog, and his latest offering, , Sunset Strip is on my TBR pile (Just look at that gorgeous cover!). It is a 60k words of paranormal fantasy with attitude, and is now available Kindle, Nook, Kobo . If you haven’t already, I urge you to check it out. Take it away, Rick!
Surviving a Series
I’ve just released the fifth book in a horror/comedy series I’ve been writing. I’m lucky in that it’s been well-received by readers and has developed a bit of a following. There’re few better feelings for a writer than receiving a message asking when the next book will be coming out. At the same time, it’s not all wine and roses. It’s very possible to suffer from series burn-out. There’s also the ever-present fear of ‘jumping the shark’, where everything afterward doesn’t quite reach the highpoints that came before. In short there’re plenty of challenges for series authors. In between writing mine and reading others, though, I’ve come up with some suggestions that hopefully you might find useful.
- Know where you’re going. A series should have a destination in mind. Even if it’s not an ultimate destination, there should be a culmination to story arcs in mind before starting anew. Closure is good and gives readers a sense of satisfaction. Without that sense of direction, your multi-book epic adventure could start to seem aimless. Treat your series like a singular story, except each book represents a chapter. Make sure you have a coherent beginning, middle, and end when it’s all viewed as a whole.
- Change is good, as long as it’s not for the sake of change. Mix things up, kill characters, introduce new ones, and have the survivors grow as a result – as long as it makes sense for the story. The same thing over and over again is comfortable, but can rapidly become boring. Just make sure when you change it, you know where you’re going with it.
- Don’t milk it. While you wouldn’t be the first writer to throw a few extra books into a series to keep the old cash cow alive, remember that readers aren’t stupid. If it’s filler, people will realize it. Go to that well too often and don’t be surprised when readers react to the announcement of the next chapter with apathy rather than excitement. If your series is reaching its end, go for it and go big. Don’t put off the inevitable just because you hope to squeeze people for a few more bucks.
- It’s okay to take a break. You may get some grousing, but it’s perfectly okay to work on a different story in between series volumes. You need to respect your readers, but that doesn’t mean they should dictate what must come next. No ideas for a different world? Consider a side story for a sub character. This can be a great way to mix things up and keep them fresh for you, while at the same time expanding upon your universe. My latest falls into that category. It was a nice breath of fresh air to help me recharge my batteries, while still treading familiar ground.
Writing a series can be an awesome experience in extended world-building and storytelling. But much like a long road trip, it’s easy to get lost. If you can avoid doing so, though, you may find it personally rewarding as well as potentially lucrative.
About Rick: Rick Gualtieri lives alone in a dark, evil place called New Jersey with only his wife, three kids, and countless pets to both keep him company and constantly plot against him. When he’s not busy monkey-clicking out words, he can typically be found jealously guarding his collection of vintage Transformers from all who would seek to defile them. Defilers beware!
——— As a reader, what are some of your favorite series, and why? If you’re an author, what’s your take on surviving a series?