World Con Panel: Committing Series

with Jason Hough, Elizabeth Moon, Adam Troy-Castro, Mary Robinette Kowal and Chris Gerrib

Lots of different types of series.
Series that are really one fat story arc.
Series that have an arc for each book. (Something needs to bring these arcs together.)
For example, the Discworld series, where the setting unifies the books.
Also, the template series. A reboot of characters, say Spiderman or James Bond.

Series can have multiple POV.

Planning a series takes a different type of planning than planning a novel.

Sometimes writers are asked for a stand alone book, and then asked if they can write more books.

It’s better if you can put the books out faster.

Sometimes series last longer than you want (Sherlock Holmes as an example.)

How do you handle the orienting back story? It’s okay to leave it out if it’s not referent to the current book.

Scott Lynch cited by Mary. Sequel to Lies of Locke Lamora does not tell you what awful thing happened in Lies of Locke Lamora, only that it was bad.

Kowal’s Glamour in the Glass is a book that stands apart from the first book.

Back story is best if it comes out in the narrative.

Cliff hangers!
Early serials cheated terribly.
Reread your first book and make sure you are dealing fairly with the cliff hanger.

Watch out for continuity errors.

In a long arc series, sometimes there is no good place to break a book. So cliff hanger!

Cliffhangers can alienate an audience.
Pay off must be there.
This is the same for a cliff hanger at the end of a chapter as well as one at the end of a book.

You may want to have a series bible, digital or in notebooks.
Although sometimes your notes may go by the wayside, and you may surprise yourself as you write.

Make sure you read your book aloud for audio book concerns.

What do you do if you are tired of the series?
Suck it up and write the character.
Go back to the last place you were excited. What excited you? What still excites you?

Some issues may never be resolved at the end of the book.

If you have the whole series written, let the publisher know. That might make them more interested.

Any book can go on, unless it’s the end of the universe.

Author: Catherine Schaff-Stump

Catherine Schaff-Stump writes fiction for children and young adults. Her most recent book, The Vessel of Ra, is the first book in the Klaereon Scroll series. She is currently working on its sequel, as well as penning the middle grade adventures of Abigail Rath, monster hunter.

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