With the recent release of Wyrd Calling, I wanted to give author Shen Hart a moment here to mark the occasion.  Since she’s just starting the Wyrd Bound series, I thought it was great for her to talk about different kinds of series.

First of all I’d like to thank Len for having me here on his blog.

I’m here today to discuss my views on writing series. A series is a little more complicated than it initially seems. It’s effectively a collection of books all set within one world, usually following one or a group of characters, with a linear progression through a plot. This means that there are options for how a series can be written.

First of all we have the traditional series. This is probably what most people expect when they think of a series of books. It is one large plot arc that follows either one character or a group of characters told over a number of books. Then, we have a series that, rather than staying with one character or group, bounces around telling the story from different angles and points in time. That relates into the third type, and I have to admit that I expect some people would argue that this isn’t a true series. The third option is to tell a collection of stories from different characters, at different points throughout the story, all set in the same world.

What are the pros and cons to writing these different types of series?

The first type allows you to write one large story and follow the characters through said story. This gives you plenty of room to develop the characters and explore a story with a huge scope. That means that you need a story big enough to cover that scope, but realistically, that’s true of writing any series. So many people try and stretch out a small story, and it ends up packed full of filler and not going anywhere.

The second type of series offers more room for exploration and gives the space to add in more subplots, threads, and complicated undertones. As you’re bouncing between different characters, you can look at things from different angles; that gives you the larger scope. That also however means that the readers may find it more difficult to grasp onto one character.

Finally we have the third option. Now this means that you can have a collection of much shorter stories that all tie in together. It gives you the option to write a variety of different characters and offers your readers the freedom to read the books in any order they choose. On the downside, there is unlikely to be a larger plot that unifies all of the books.

Now we come into the actual writing of them and the considerations thereof. As I stated earlier, a series needs a big story with a lot of scope. There has to be enough there to fill the pages satisfactorily. In the case of the first two types of series, I would also strongly recommend having a smaller plot arc for each book that fits into the larger arc of the series as a whole. That gives the reader each individual story, the progress with the plot and characters, while still furthering the larger plot. They walk away satisfied as they read a complete story, but are still left wanting more. They need to know how the complete series plot is resolved. Some people will treat a series more like one huge book that has been cut down into manageable pieces. That means that there may not be a distinct plot arc in each book. Personally, I think that’s less satisfying for the reader and misses some of the point of a series.

The entire thing needs to come together and have a multitude of layers. When writing a series you will find (as I am currently, given I’m writing book 2 in a series) that it’s complicated. There are the many different layers and subplots within each individual book, but they then need to have some purpose to the larger plot as well. The character development and individual plots all need to link into the books around them and move forwards, both in their own right and within the series. That means that you have to think ahead – if Bob kills the dragon now, how will that affect the big scene in book 4?

Obviously those things don’t matter so much with the third type of series as generally speaking there isn’t a big plot to tie them all together. It’s best to keep a track of things that happened on certain dates so that events match up should books cover a similar geography and time period, but otherwise they’re verging on standalone books.

In summary, writing a series is hard work. You have to consider not only the plot and development of the current book but also the series as a whole. Each book must have its own individual plot arc and development to satisfy the reader, while also acting to progress the series plot. It’s complicated and it means juggling multiple layers and thinking ahead, but it’s worth it if you have a story of large enough scope. It allows you a lot more room to explore big concepts and journeys which can be fantastic fun and earn you wonderful fans.

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For more info on Wyrd Calling, here’s the description from Amazon.  Check it out.

No one escapes the Wyrd Sisters. Thalia gave it her best shot. She ran away and devoted her life to tricking black market traders out of their money. She could only run for so long. They always catch up with you, one way or another.

Thalia is a hot-headed, stubborn, wild-child shifter who happens to be Wyrd Bound. She finds herself dragged back to her role where she must bring her new pack into line and stop a serial killer. She’d rather not have a pack and isn’t that worried about stopping the killer, but that was what she was made for. There’s only one thing Thalia really wants.

Freedom.

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