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  • Writer's pictureJenna Moreci

Should I Write a Book Series?

HelloOoOo everybody!

Today we are discussing another one of your highly requested topics, and that is book series! You guys have so many questions about series, how to plan ’em, how to write ’em. But today we're talking about whether or not you should write one. We’ll cover the other stuff another time. This video in particular is dedicated to one of my patrons over on Patreon, Lorena! A lot of writers aren't sure if their story requires a series. It can be difficult to tell at times. And similarly, Lorena wants to know if her premise is strong enough to support an entire series of books. Thus, I am breaking down how to tell whether or not you should write a series starting with the top five reasons why you should definitely write a series.

If you haven’t already, don’t forget to also subscribe to my YouTube channel for more writing tips, sarcasm, and of course, more of Princess Butters!


Number 1: The Plot Is Multi-Leveled

Every plot centers around a goal, and in order to achieve that goal, you need an inciting incident, rising action, climax, and resolution. However, sometimes goals are so massive you need several plots consisting of several mini-goals in order to reach the finish line. In situations like this, you are perfectly set up to write a series. Say, for example, you're writing a war. War is complicated and typically not won through a single battle. Because of this, it's likely that winning a fictional war would take a series, and it would probably include various goals and plots. Maybe the plot of book one revolves around rescuing the former king. This story alone could easily have its own inciting incident, rising action, climax, and resolution. But the overall goal of winning the war has still not been achieved. Thus, we move on to book two, where the king reunites his army. Each book revolves around a smaller goal until the last book, which will end in winning the war.

Number 2: Your Work Is Episodic

Sometimes series don't follow one overarching goal. Sometimes each book within the series has its own story to tell. These are called episodic series, where each book is its own episode or story. Usually, episodic series revolve around a main character whose job or life path is very specific. For example, a detective series where each book is a brand new case for the detective to solve or a supernatural series where each book is a brand new supernatural creature for the hunter to kill. Plots that revolve around the whole whodunit angle or catching a bad guy tend to lend themselves to the episodic series format.

Number 3: You’ve Got a Large Cast

Usually, the larger the cast, the more stories you're telling. And the more stories you're telling, the longer it's gonna take to tell them. It's a lot of work to keep up with 20 different characters, and the odds are slim that they're all going to achieve their individual goals in the same novel. Additionally, lots of series flip-flop between points of view. Maybe one book is told from the werewolf’s perspective. Maybe another is told from the Mothman's point of view. Look at your cast and be honest with yourself regarding whether or not their stories can be resolved in one book.

Number 4: A Bazillion Subplots

On a similar note, the more subplots you write, the longer it's going to take to tell your story. That's not to say you should write a series where the last four books revolve exclusively around subplots. But at the end of the day, subplots do take up a chunk of your story, which means your character’s main goal–also known as the main plot of the story–is probably not going to get resolved in a single book. Because of this, it may take multiple books to resolve both your main plot as well as your subplots. Now, keep in mind if your main plot is too simple to support your subplots, you might want to go back to the drawing board. Sounds like you put the emphasis of the story in the wrong place.

Number 5: You Left the Readers Hanging

Sometimes you write a book with every intention of it being a standalone, but there's one little thread left hanging. Yank on that thread, and everything comes crashing down. You can leave the thread hanging, and let people speculate. Or, if the book was well-received and you're still excited about the story, you can yank on it. Fuck shit up! I support you! The situation allows you with wiggle room to continue with the series, or end things. It's totally up to you! You could also choose to end things now, and maybe revisit at a later date. Basically, if you're not sure if you want to end a series, leave a thread hanging. Give yourself the option.

Now that we've covered the five reasons to consider writing a series, it's time to talk about the five reasons you should not write a series. These points are often cited as reasons that writers wrote series when they shouldn't have. If you're listing these as points for writing your series, maybe don't.

Number 1: Your Book Is Long

This is the number one reason that writers give to me when they're considering turning their standalone into a series.

“My book is a hundred thousand words. Maybe I should split it in half!”

This is a dumb idea! As we already covered, the standard plot consists of an inciting incident, a rising action, a climax, and a resolution. If you split that into two separate books, what you have is half a plot per book. No one wants to read that shit. By the end of book one, people are gonna feel ripped off because you didn't deliver on your promise. And yes, books within a series tend to leave certain things a mystery, but there's a difference between leaving a few stones unturned versus missing 50% of the plot.

Number 2: This Ain’t the Right Genre

The more complex a plot is, the more it lends itself to a series, but not all genres thrive on complexity. Sci-fi, fantasy, and paranormal can be complex because there's futuristic technology and magical creatures. There's battle and drama! But if you're looking at a contemporary novel all about a son's relationship with his father, or a ghost story all about a haunted house, you probably don't need multiple plot lines in order to get your point across. Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule. For example, contemporary romance is not really a genre that fits into the series mold. However, some contemporary romance authors create episodic series where each book within the series follows a different couple. But it's still smart to learn the norms of your genre and understand where your story fits within the spectrum.

Number 3: The First Book Was a Bust

Sometimes writers release the first book of their series and it tanks. If this is the case, it's probably a good idea to ask yourself whether or not the series is worth continuing. Because if no one read the first book, chances are no one's gonna read the second. It's possible you'll pull the greatest marketing scheme ever and make the second book a massive hit, but nine times out of ten, the success of a series largely depends on the success of the first book. If you're extremely passionate about a series and creating it solely for the joy of writing, have at it! Otherwise, it might be time to consider plan B.

Number 4: Readers Asked for It

“But Jenna, I'm writing a series because my readers want it!”

Okay, but do you want it? Would it make sense for your story? Would it work for the world you've created at all? If your answer is no to any of these questions, then it doesn't matter what your readers asked for. You know the story better than anyone, and if a sequel wouldn't work, it wouldn't work. Plus, writing a story you have absolutely no desire to write fucking sucks. Don't do it! It's fantastic if readers love your book, but don't let that pressure you into creating unnecessary garbage. If they loved your first book, they'll likely love your second, even if it's not a sequel.

Number 5: The Story Is Over

This goes without saying, right? Wrong! Creators love to beat a dead horse. We see this all the time with TV shows, movies, and of course, book series. This is common if a series is making a writer tons of money and they want to cash in for all it's worth, or if a writer is too attached to their characters and they can't see that there is no more story left to tell. Let it go! Sometimes newer writers will write a book about their character’s happily ever after. There's absolutely no plot, it's just their characters being happy . . . ever after. I'm all for self-indulgence, but you gotta give people a story. That's literally the entire point of a book.

So that's all I've got for you today!

Author Jenna Moreci.

A huge thank you to Lorena for requesting this topic! If you'd like the chance to have a video dedicated to you, or if you want access to tons of other awards, check me out on Patreon! We've got an exclusive writing group, we have a monthly live stream, you get access to videos early, and we've got signed merch! The link is listed here!


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