Planning Your Novel Series, Part 2

Fiction plots are about questions: posing them, complicating them, delaying the answers to them, and finally arriving at a satisfactory resolution. If you’re writing a series, you must consider two sets of questions.

Series questions
To make a series feel whole, think through your overall arc at the outset.

For a series about a twenty-something finding herself, the overall question might be whether she’ll find the satisfying life God has planned for her.

  • Book One: She comes to understand God’s love for her and risks leaving what she knows to test the unknown.
  • Book Two: Resolves her professional life while leaving a question about her romantic life.
  • Book Three: She learns to trust God in her professional life, and her romantic life comes together as well.

Story questions
Though series books are episodes of a larger story, it’s important to make each self-contained. Your reader expects to feel satisfied with the journey as she finishes each book. It’s not fair to lead her through an entire book only to be told that she must wait for your next title to have her questions resolved.

Does this mean there are no unanswered questions in the individual titles? No, but each book should have a story question of its own answered by the end. However, your overall series question should still be looming so readers will want to stay with the series. This way you both satisfy and tantalize the reader.

Next we’ll look at how many books are in a typical series and how to close them.

Photo: Sandra ByrdAfter earning her first rejection at 13, bestselling author Sandra Byrd published more than three dozen books. Her adult fiction debut, Let Them Eat Cake, was a Christy Award finalist. Library Journal called her historical novel, To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn, one of the best books of 2011. Sandra’s YA fiction, Asking for Trouble, was a finalist for the ECPA Medallion of Excellence award. Sandra is passionate about helping new writers develop their talent and take hold of their dreams. Please visit her online.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *