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  • How to write a great book series? 1

    Writing a novel by itself can be a formidable task. From an extensive research to characterization, it is a long process requiring immense planning and thinking. So if you are planning to write a book series, as you can imagine, it is going to take more planning and thinking than ever.  It is said that JK Rowling had her entire concept and story for all of her books in the Harry Potter series even before she started. However, there are many authors who published their first novel, and then they developed the rest of the books in the series on the go.  No matter which category you fall into, here are some tips that will help you write a  book series:

    1. Choose the right story concept

    The first thing you need to ask yourself is whether your story can be stretched into multiple books.  If your story cannot be stretched, don’t stretch it.  One of the most important things about writing a series is identifying the right genre and themes that work well. For example, fantasy, adventure, and mythology work the best, when it comes to a series. Most of the best selling series have all been from these genres. Romance on the other hand doesn’t work that well. Therefore, most of the contemporary romance writers keep their novels short and crisp because when stretched, this specific genre may not be that interesting to your audience.

    Therefore, before you start writing make sure you have enough story and a great theme that you can make into multiple books because writing a series for the sake of it can be totally disastrous.

    1. Decide on the plot structure

    Whether you are going to write a trilogy or 20 sequels in the series, the primary objective is to decide on a plot structure and a plot outline.  This way, you can define the topics covered and the themes you will explore in each volume of the series.

    Also, as a first time book series writer, it is always best to restrict your book series into a trilogy; it’s neither too much nor too little. Be it the Shiva trilogy by Amish Tripati, the Divergent  by Veronica Roth, or The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, trilogies always work great, especially, if your genre is mythology or fantasy.

    1. Plan the end ahead

    Not planning the end of a particular series ahead of time can be a huge mistake.  Not stopping where it should can be one of the reasons why a series may not turn out great.  Knowing where you are going to stop will help you construct the story well and make sure you are not stuck midway.

    This does not necessarily mean that you must have every scene planned ahead. Having a rough draft of how things will move in the story might be of great help. While readers love suspenses, as it makes them curious, make sure that the suspenses are not forced into your story. Any suspense, major twists, and important cruxes should be well-planned ahead.

    1. Your characters are your elixir

    One of the major flaws that you could make in your novel is poor characterization. Especially, if you are planning to write a book series, your characters must be strong, unique, poignant, and well-defined. What made Harry Potter a huge success?  Apart from the story line and the fantasy elements, Harry Potter series had strong characters. Be it someone as important as Hermione Granger or someone who appeared in only one book like Dolores Umbridge, the characters were uniquely crafted.

    One of the things readers love about reading is how well they could relate to the characters. If you make your characters as unique as possible, then you have high chances of intriguing your readers. Also, make your characters consistent across books. Even if you are planning to turn a positive character negative or a negative character positive, do it seamlessly. The readers should find it realistic and not forced.

    1. Create loose ends

    Yes, when we say create loose ends, we literally mean it. One of the reasons a reader chooses to read your book’s sequel is due to sheer curiosity. To build that curiosity, you need to create some valid loose ends. Things like flashback, prophecies, open ending, etc., work well. However, just like anything else, do not over do it.

    Also, do not leave all the loose ends as such until the very end. Try to tie the loose ends as and when possible: be it your second book in the series or the penultimate one.

    If you are planning to write a book series, here are some popular book series that you can read to have a fair idea about the art of writing a book series:

    1. Harry Potter

    Perhaps the most popular of book series ever written, Harry Potter is a series of fantasy novels written by JK Rowling. The story revolves around a young wizard named Harry Potter and his friends Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley, who are students of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The main story is about how Harry and his friends fight against Lord Voldemort, a dark wizard who intends to be immortal.

    The series set numerous records and sold more than 450 million copies, making it the most sold series in history. Additionally, it was also translated in 73 languages and also set the record for the fastest selling book series ever. The series was also made into movies, which were incredibly popular as well.

    List of books in the series:

    • Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (1997)
    • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (1998)
    • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (1999)
    • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2000)
    • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2003)
    • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2005)
    • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (2007)
    • Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (2016)


    1. The Chronicles of Narnia

    Written by C S Lewis, the chronicles of Narnia is a fantasy series of seven books.  It is known as the classic of children’s literature and is the author’s best work. Set in the fictional town of Narnia, a fantasy land of magic and mystical beasts and animals, the series revolves around the adventures of the children of the land trying to uncover the history of Narnia. The book has sold over 100 million copies and has been translated to 47 languages.  The series has also been adapted several times for radio, TV and movies.

    List of books in the series:

    • The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (1950)
    • Prince Caspian (1951)
    • The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (1952)
    • The Silver Chair (1953)
    • The Horse and His Boy (1954)
    • The Magician’s Nephew (1955)
    • The Last Battle (1956)


    1. The Hunger Games

    A series of adventure novels written by Suzanne Collins, it consists of a series of three books, set in the fictional town of Panem, a country consisting of the wealthy Capitol and 12 districts. The trilogy focuses on the lead character Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark.  Every year in Panem, children from the districts are selected to participate in a death match called The Hunger Games. The story explores how the main characters get through the death race and rebel against the Capitol.

    The books were all best sellers and have sold 65 million copies in the US alone. It has also been sold in 56 countries and translated in 51 languages till date.

    List of books in the series:

    • The Hunger Games (2008)
    • Catching Fire (2009)
    • Mockingjay (2010)


    1. Percy Jackson and the Olympians

    A pentalogy of adventure and mythological fiction, Percy Jackson series is written by Rick Riordan. What started off as narrating Green mythological stories to his son is now a book series where Percy Jackson travels around the US to recover Zeus’s lightning-bolt.

    The series has sold over 45 million copies in 35 countries and has been on The New York Times Bestseller list for 223 weeks.

    List of books in the series:

    • The Lightning Thief (2005)
    • The Sea of Monsters (2006)
    • The Titan’s Curse (2007)
    • The Battle of the Labyrinth (2008)
    • The Last Olympian (2009)


    1. The Lord of the Rings

    The Lord of the Rings is an epic fantasy series written by J R R Tolkien. It began as a sequel to his previous novel Hobit at the beginning but became a standalone series of its own. It is one of the most critically acclaimed and popular novel ever written.  The story revolves around the main antagonist, the Dark Lord Sauron who created the one ring that can rule the other ring of power.

    The book has reference to pop culture and has inspired and continuous to inspire may art work, books and other literary work. It has sold over 150 million copies and has been reprinted plenty of times and translated into 38 languages.

    Books in the series:

    • The Fellowship of the Ring
    • The Two Towers
    • The Return of the King


    1. The Maze Runner

    A science fiction for the Young Adult, the series is written by James Dashner. Calling themselves Gladers, a group of teenagers transport themselves to a remote outpost. They land themselves in trouble after discovering a diabolical plot from an extremely dangerous and powerful organization named WCKD. The series has been received well and has also been made into a movie.

    Books in the series:

    • The Maze Runner (2009)
    • The Scorch Trials (2010)
    • The Death Cure (2011)
    • The Kill Order (2012)
    • The Fever Code (2016)


    1. The Shiva Trilogy

    Written by Indian author Amish Tripathi, the Shiva Trilogy is considered as one of India’s most successful series. The book sold more than 40,000 copies and have all been best sellers.  The Shiva Trilogy books have been translated into Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati, Telugu, Tamil, Assamese, Bengali, Malayalam, Kannada, Estonian, Spanish, Portuguese and Bahasa Indonesian.

    • The Immortals of Meluha (2010)
    • The Secret of the Nagas (2011)
    • The Oath of the Vayuputras (2013)


    1. A Song of Ice and Fire

    A Song of Ice and Fire is an epic fantasy series written by the famous American novelist and screenwriter George R. R. Martin. Now, a popular TV Series titled Game of Thrones, this epic book series has sold more than 60 million copies worldwide. What’s more, it has been translated into at least 45 languages.

    • A Game of Thrones (1996)
    • A Clash of Kings (1998)
    • A Storm of Swords (2000)
    • A Feast for Crows (2005)
    • A Dance with Dragons (2011)
    • The Winds of Winter (forthcoming)
    • A Dream of Spring (forthcoming)

    As you can see, most of these book series have been written over a long period of time. With concentration, perseverance, passion, and creativity, any good writer can write an amazing book series. How to balance writing with your Day job. As an author, do you prefer writing individual novels or book series? As a reader, which book series made you spellbound? Let us know on the comments.