Monday, March 25, 2013

When to Start or Stop a Series

by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

I'm a real fan of writing series.  That's probably obvious, since I write three of them.  It gives me more opportunity to fully-develop my characters and give them growth throughout the series.  In's honestly a lot easier to write series.  You put a setting in place, and recurring characters in place--which makes subsequent books easier to write.

As a reader, I like series, too.  I feel more invested in the protagonist and recurring characters if I know I'll be spending several books with them.  I'll even soak in the setting and descriptions a bit more, since I know they'll be needed lately (as I've mentioned before, I frequently will gloss over any descriptions when reading.)

Elements that make for a good series:

A strong protagonist.  This character shouldn't take a back seat in the story--he should make things happen instead of having things happen *to* him.  There should be room for character growth there, too, and change.

Either a big conflict (for linked series where the plot continues from book to book) or solid new conflicts for each non-linked book in a series.  Some subplots work well in series, too..romantic subplots are frequently popular with writers of all genres. 

An interesting setting.  And one that's interesting for the writer to write, too.

Elements that also make for good standalones...strong supporting characters, believable conflict, good pace, etc.

When to call a series quits:

When your publisher says it's finished.  :)  (These days you should see if you can get the rights to those characters back and continue the series yourself.)

When your characters start becoming static and your ideas are drying up.

When you find you're recycling plots.

When readers lose interest.

Do you prefer writing and reading standalones or series better? 

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