Five Mistakes to Avoid While Writing a Literary Series
A literary series is a celebrated form of literature that millions of readers around the world enjoy. A series can belong to any genre from science fiction to fantasy or romance to crime fiction. There are some books that pop into your mind the moment you hear the word ‘literary series’ – Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, The Lord of the Rings, Twilight, Divergent or A Game of Thrones series by George R.R. Martin.
Which book did you think of first? While these books deal with different or even multiple genres, there are some rules they follow to ensure that they are successful. Here is a list of things of writing mistakes to avoid while writing literary series, so that you become a bestselling author:
1.Not planning your series in advance
Just like you create a plot outline when you write a novel, it is necessary to create an outline for the entire series. Decide how the story will progress, the possible endings and the journey the protagonist will follow. Ensure that your story is big enough to expand into multiple novels and that there are no major flaws in your outline. Maintain a database of the setting, your characters and the path they follow, so that you do not unintentionally trespass into the boundaries you had set for your novel. Develop your character with each book, so as to not stagnate your novel. Even people who do not go through major changes in life have subtle changes in their attitude, appearance and other aspects. Ensure that your character keeps growing with each book and ages appropriately, depending on the gap between each book in the series.
Ensure that the information you provide is consistent with your previous books. Your protagonist cannot be hearing-impaired in the first book and suddenly have perfect auditory perception by the end of the series, without undergoing any surgery. When you write a murder mystery, the blueprint of the house plays an important role. The kitchen always needs to be right across the murder spot, if that is what you stated in the first book. If the protagonist has a birthmark on his right cheek or has green eyes, this needs to be consistent. Note down the characteristics of each person, and ensure that you do not change these details. Also, take great care when you develop a character sketch. The characters in your novel must have positive attributes, but remember to include flaws that set them back while trying to achieve their goals. This will make them more relatable, and the reader will easily identify with your character.
3.No links between books in the series
There are various ways in which the books in a series can be connected. Apart from the characters, events and the setting of the novel, try to create titles for the individual books in such a way that it connects them. The book cover could be designed such that it echoes the thoughts of the series, and the theme in each book should fit as a series. Repetition is a powerful tool, and you can use it to repeat events from your previous books, if they add value to the context of the current book. Maintain the same tone and style of writing as the previous books in the series, and ensure that your writing is intriguing and consistent.
4.Leaving questions unanswered
Every reader expects answers to the questions the author raises through the series. If you leave them unresolved, the reader will see no point in investing their time, energy and emotions in your book. While not every loose end needs to be tied, try to resolve the questions that come up in the series and satisfactorily answer the individual story arcs. The main reason one writes a series is to answer the lingering questions that get raised throughout the plot, and if you refuse to answer them, it will hinder the closure of the series and not make the reader content with that they have read.
5.Illogical courses of action
Sometimes, an author tends to introduce a course of action that is logically unsound. It could range from anything such as introducing a new character without any background or making the protagonist do an action without showing their motivation behind it. Authors add these things out of convenience, so that they can tie up loose ends, instead, they backfire and become plotholes in the story. It usually contradicts the logic of the scene, the character or the storyline and can derail a good plot. Ensure continuity between your books in the series, and always plan your series much in advance, so that you can set up a logical plot, which will be accepted by your readers.
If you’re contemplating a series, take a look at ‘How to write a series’ on Notion Press Academy before you get started!