Love writing fiction? I do too, especially series fiction. Last year I ran a series fiction workshop for some of my students. Eight months have passed, so I contacted them to discover which strategies they found most profitable.
Writing fiction in series: use the characters you love
One student responded: “The workshop helped me to create strong characters and I learned that if I truly love a minor character, that means that the character needs his own book.”
A great observation. The strength of your series depends on your characters, and if a character sparks your inspiration, you can use that to develop another book for the series.
Let’s look at the tips.
1. Focus on creating characters: differentiate them
Boredom can become a challenge for you when you’re writing a series.
Overcome that, by differentiating your characters.
Keep writing, and aim to differentiate your characters. Let’s say you’re writing a mystery. You have a sleuth who’s an aging alcoholic; a detective who’s avoiding his AA meetings. His partner is young, strait-laced, Armani-wearing.
Making your characters different introduces conflict.
A student who’s writing a series of mystery novels has two main characters, they’re detectives. She said that when she planned the series, her big goal was to keep the detectives in conflict, and that’s worked well for her:
The most realistic conflicts between characters stem from who they are. The Odd Couple is my favorite example of this type of conflict. When Felix and Oscar live together they’re so different that conflict is guaranteed.
2. Pace yourself: develop your plot arc for the series while you’re writing
Several students commented that spending time setting up the plot arc for the series worked for them.
One said: “By the time I wrote the third novel, the series had started to take off. I’d planned five novels, but I decided that I could extend the arc, to write at least ten.”
An excellent point. When you know a series is working, take a little time to play with your over-arching plot. You’re sure to find ways to extend the “big” plot.
3. Vary the length of your series’ books: write novellas and short stories
Have you discovered Short Reads?
While you’re keeping an eye on your series’ plot arc, consider writing short fiction as well. Each novella or short story can increase your series’ sales.
One author reported: “I’m a slow writer. I’ve tried to speed up, but it’s a challenge. So while I’m writing the next novel in my series, I publish something short. I’ve written a novella, as well as several short stories, which I bundled. Sales have increased every month. It’s very encouraging.”
When you’re writing fiction in series, you can write standalones too
Do you keep getting ideas for standalone novels while you’re writing a series? Several authors commented on this.
Of course you can write a standalone novel or novella if you get a sudden hit of inspiration while you’re in the middle of a series.
Just include previews of books in the back matter of your series novels. One of the benefits of writing fiction in series is that it’s easier to sell your standalone novels too.
Writing in series is huge fun, especially when a series takes off. 🙂
When you write in series, you're giving yourself more chances to sell with every novel you write.More info →
Why write serial fiction?
Everyone's busy today. A serial is by its nature, faster to write, and publish, than a novel.
It's a quicker read too, and many readers appreciate this. While a reader may hesitate before committing hours to a novel, he can read an episode of your serial in minutes.More info →