how to write a book

How To Write A Book Series

As a writer of fiction, you know you’ll know how to write a book that can incorporate the thousands of ideas stuck in your head. The urge to tell more stories never ends, even after you publish your first novel. Of all the stories you wish to tell, there is always that one story that is worth converting into a book series. From extensive research on deep characterization, learning how to write a book series also requires immense planning and thinking. Knowing exactly how to structure the book series is the critical part, even if you have the whole series pre-planned or make it up as you release one novel after the other. Here’s a quick guide on how to write a book series.

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. 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.

When you decide on the genre of the book series, do a little research on the many novels that have used that genre. This will give you an idea as to how to start writing the story so that it can be stretched into a series.

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. Three is that secret number that always works; it’s neither too much nor too little. If you plan a plot structure that stretches across three novels, you’ll have an easier time figuring out how you’re going to write the book. Remember, the best way to streamline your plot and create better chances for a series to materialise is to know how to format your book.

Plan the end ahead

Sometimes, planning the end of a particular novel in the series ahead of time can be helpful. 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 the end of every scene planned ahead. For starters, divide your novel into chapters, create a rough draft of each chapter and figure out ways on how each chapter connects and builds the story. You will ultimately understand how to finish the series. With your rough draft ready, it’s time to convert it into a complete manuscript. While readers love suspense, as it makes them curious, make sure that the suspense is not forced into your story.

 

how to write a book

 

Your characters are your elixir

Characters are the life and bread of a great story; they help drive your plot forward and keep the readers engaged. Especially, if you are planning to write a book series, your characters must be strong, unique, poignant, and well-defined. To achieve this, you need to give flesh and blood to your characters; give them a reason to be a part of your story.

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, learn how to 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.

Create loose ends

Yes, when we say create loose ends, we literally mean it. One of the reasons a reader chooses to read your books 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 overdo 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. The horror genre is known to have nerve-wracking plots and unexpected twists and turns, so try your hand in writing a horror novel.

One of the easiest ways to grasp the concept of writing a book series is to read a few highly popular existing series. A book series also has high chance of being picked up for converting into a movie, giving you an extra incentive to learn how to convert your book into a movie script. Here’s our pick of the best book series

 

Harry Potter

 

Harry Potter is a series of fantasy novels written by JK Rowling. The 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)

 

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 into 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)

 

The Hunger Games

 

The Hunger Games is a series of adventure novels written by Suzanne Collins. 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, translated in 51 languages and converted into a movie.

List of books in the series:

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

 

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)

 

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, but became a standalone series of its own. It is one of the most critically acclaimed and popular book series ever written. The story revolves around the main antagonist, the Dark Lord Sauron, who created the one ring that can rule the other rings of power.

The book has reference to pop culture and continuous to inspire many works of art, 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

 

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 organisation 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)

 

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. It has also 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. One you’ve created the first book, approach a reputed self-publishing agency to start promoting your work and generating buzz for the follow ups in the series. So tell us; as an author, do you prefer writing individual novels or book series? And as a reader, which book series made you spellbound.

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Aishwarya Mukundarajan

Aishwarya is an MBA graduate from Symbiosis International University, Pune. When asked what her hobbies are she points to an overflowing bookcase.

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