Writing a series is all in the details. In many ways, it is like writing a regular story, but more encompassing. It allows you to create a rich world and set of characters to share with your reader. Below are a few tips to help you succeed in creating a series. I incorporated many of these elements in a mm modern fantasy trilogy, Carthera Takeover Tales, that can be found on Gay Authors.
1. Before You Get Started
Pretty much everyone will have read a series of some sort in their lives. Think back over the series that you read and what you liked about it. Do you like stories that are close together in the timeline, without large gaps between stories? Do you like stories that follow years in the future to share more of the character's lives? What other elements did you like? Did the series follow one character or couple? Did it alternate couples but follow the same set of characters? Is the arc through the series following the plot, the characters, or the setting? For example, is the commonality in the story a war? A family featured? A certain town?
2. Details, Details, Details
A series requires that you keep a lot of details straight in your mind. In order to do that, keeping notes is a good idea. Free Mind Map is a good tool that allows you to fold and add links to your research data as well as create a mind map (think of a higher tech bubble diagram program. Bubble.us was also featured here, in a past Fiction Stories Online blog). A friend also mentioned they used ywriter5 to good effect. I also have several sets of character questionnaires that I have on hand to really get to know my characters. PM me if you'd like a copy!
3. Standing Strong, Together and Alone
Every book needs to stand alone in a series, but also contribute to the overall story. The first book allows you to set your plot and characters. The middle stories allow you to explore the world and how and why things happen in it. Cliffhangers can keep readers reading, but each story should have its own arc with an introduction, conflict and resolution. The final story in a series allows you to tie everything together and create a final conclusion.
4. Keeping Up the Suspense
To keep the action moving in the stories, you need to have conflict. I like formula writing myself which involves a set series of steps to create a story arc. One of the main things in a series that I find important is to have an arc that creates an overall 'problem/conflict' for the characters to experience, but they also need a personal arc within each story as well. That way each story has a feeling of resolution to satisfy the reader at the end. It also allows you to focus on the two different plot arcs/conflicts at different points in your novel, to keep it interesting.
5. Remain Dedicated
Set goals, give yourself a writing time requirement daily or weekly, have a friend set to give you a healthy kick in the rear ... just be prepared to work, and work hard! Writing a story is hard, writing a series of stories is even harder! You can't do it unless you're prepared for the time and effort it takes.
Well, those are my tips for writing a series. If you've been considering it, I hope you'll do more than consider it and pick up your pen or word processor, and get started!