Kayla Hicks - Author Kayla Hicks - Author

The hard facts about writing a book series

5 min read

Writing a book series was harder than I thought it was going to be.

The key to creating a book series is in the details and the planning.

The truth is, we don’t always plan for a book to turn into a series.

Either the story tells us there is more to be told or the readers ask for more from the universe. This means that the detailing and planning for a potential series doesn’t come until after the first book has been completed.

Series can take on many forms as it also depends on the perspective and point of view the story is told in.

Some book series start from the perspective of one character and then transition to the next book with the perspective of another character. While others continue the story of the main character throughout several books or follow a group of people.

Whatever path you choose, this is where the details and planning matter.

When writing a series, it is very difficult to keep storylines, characters, and smaller details throughout the series straight.

This is why you need to hash out the details:

  • Characters: For characters, you want to create a folder or document for each character. Create a personality profile for them and list all important details about them within this document.

  • Scenes: For important scenes throughout the series, write down who these scenes affect, what results from them, and where in the series they occur.

  • Locations: What locations do your characters encounter throughout the series and how will this affect the series.

These details are what you’re going to revisit time and again as a reference throughout the series or to update.

The last thing you want is to have continuity errors throughout your series. Not only will it take away from the impact your series will deliver but it will also deter readers. Keep them engaged with your follow-through.

Planning is the next important step that makes or breaks a series.

On special occasions, you may not decide how many books are in a series until you are in the middle of writing them.

Planning out your entire series ahead of time though can help you slice them into books. But many authors plan out each book to see the smaller arcs within the series with an overall theme throughout them all. Whichever way you choose is up to you.

This is why planning ahead is so important.

And, combining that planning with the details is how you make your book series the best that it can be. It is also how you keep readers following your book series and wanting more.

But planning and details can only get you so far.

What else makes a great book series?

Reflect back on some of your favorite book series.

What drew you in and kept you hooked for several books?

  • relatable and memorable characters

  • intriguing plot

  • surprising plot twists

  • a new take on a genre

These are things to consider when creating a series that I hadn’t considered myself when I started my first series.

When you create a singular novel, it has three definite acts that resolve themselves by the end of the third act. To leave loose ends open for the next book in the series to carry on feels unnatural but is necessary when creating a series. This is also why most book series contains 3 books per series.

Another option for a book series that I previously mentioned, different points of view per book, is a way to keep your series fresh.

In my series The Backup Superhero, I explore different characters' perspectives and stories in each book, but I keep the same universe and have all characters appear in each book. This keeps my readers feeling at home in a familiar universe but gives them the opportunity to dive into different characters. This also means you need to let readers know ahead of time that they won’t be following the same perspective as they did before.

This doesn’t work for every series either.

My series The Backup Superhero is a series of novellas. I can cover almost episodic stories with different characters and have them feel rounded. If you don’t think there is enough material for stories from different perspectives, then don’t do them.

What to consider.

Creating a series means you are making a commitment to a set of characters and a universe for a few years.

Before you decide to move them into a book series, you need to determine if you have enough material to do so. You want to give readers a well-rounded series and keep them hooked to make it to the next book, which isn’t easy to do.

But, with planning, keeping track of details, and determination, it is possible.