Friday, September 11, 2015

The Sequel-izer

By Sarah Reichert

I’m an expert in nothing. Truly. I might do a few things well. I make a mean fish taco and I can build fairy houses like a pro. But when it comes to writing I’m still a amateur. With the arrival of my second novel in my Southtown Harbor series, I want to talk about what makes transitioning between books in your series work, and what doesn’t.

From my experience as well as from what I’ve enjoyed from other authors, I’ve compiled some helpful tips to consider when writing a series.

1.     Interweave backstory smoothly: Information dumps aren’t pretty in any book, but to begin your second book with pages of recap for the rare reader who didn’t start with your first novel is annoying to those who already know what’s going on. You still need to give gentle reminders (especially if it's taken a while between books...ahem, sorry about that), but make it a relevant part of the current story. I try to do this in the first half to third of the book, in small moments when it makes sense within the current storyline.

2.     Don’t forget supportive characters: If readers like your work, they will want to see even smaller roles revisited. It keeps the consistency of your storyline and it enriches the world you’ve built. This will also help to round out the complete story arc, discussed next.

3.     The Large Arc:  Personally, I love when a series has a central arc that spans all of the books. An ultimate goal or theme that characters share and work towards will tie everything together, so by the end of the series you feel a completion that is bigger than the individual books themselves.

4.     Make each book independently good: Not everyone will read each book. I couldn’t think of starting a series in the middle, but for those readers who do, you, as the author need to make sure each book is autonomous and capable of standing on its own.

5.     Be Consistent: This is tricky and time consuming. Your novels may have lots of little nooks and crannies that are easy to overlook. I keep a copy of my previous books next to me as I’m writing the next. What was that shop owners name? What street was that cottage on? What color are that character’s eyes? You may not think the smaller points matter, but missing these little details will make your work seem slap shod and hurried.

Please check out my newest novel in the Southtown Harbor Series:

I’m interested to hear if anyone else has tips and suggestions for writing a series. Until then, Happy Writing!

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