Divas on Writing: Pros and Cons of Writing a Series
I read a lot. Mostly romance, like I’ve probably mentioned a million times before, but I’ve been known to stray to young adult and mysteries, too. I’ve found recently that I read a lot of series, and I wondered what was it about the series that draws me in?
Some things that crossed my mind:
- I enjoy the connection to the characters that begins in the first book and continues throughout.
- There is usually a larger cast of characters than a stand-alone book, giving more variation to the personalities.
- I like to revisit the locale where the stories are set, especially if it’s integral to the story line.
- I’m more involved if the stories are intertwined and continue to play out from one book to the next.
I began to think about the pros and cons of writing a series versus a stand-alone book.
Some of the benefits of writing a series:
- You can create a fan base with the first book that carries over and grows with each book.
- Your cast of characters is large, but not infinite, and you’re not pinned down to one type of character.
- Readers establish a relationship with your characters that grows over time.
- If you fall in love with your characters, you get to visit with them over and over again.
But on the other hand, there are some risks to writing a series:
- Your cast of characters is large and that can be difficult to maintain. Keeping each leading male from sounding and acting just like the leading male before him can be a daunting task.
- Inconsistency in the details in later books is bound to happen.The details must be planned out from book one if you want to avoid this.
- Point of view can become skewed. Unless you’re writing from a true omniscient third person narrator—which is difficult in a series—you’re probably writing in limited third person. Head hopping happens. There are so many characters that sometimes it’s hard to keep the ones from prior books quiet.
- The plots have to stay fresh, interesting, and honest. I hate that point in the series when/if I get to the one that jumps the shark—the plot is no longer believable, the characters aren’t true or real anymore, and you know you won’t read the next one.
It seems like there are more series being written than ever before. There’s no scientific study to back up this statement, just my opinion. But if I like the way an author writes and I’m drawn to the characters, I’m going to buy more books by this author. And if there’s a series, well I’m a happy girl. Unfortunately, some of the series flirt with the risks a little more than I’d like and by the last book, the leading characters all sound the same, or the point of view hops around too much, or the plot steps a little out of the believable bounds. But more often than not, the author has done a great job keeping each book fresh and interesting. So I’ll keep reading series. ‘Cause I love them.