Thursday, August 20, 2020

Writing a Series by Susan Sleeman

Writers often think in terms of one book, but for some reason I’ve never thought that way. I’ve always approached my plots based on an overarching theme that would contain a series of books featuring different protagonists.

Why you ask? Readers like series books. Period. They love them. Whether it’s the same main character book after book, or different leading characters, readers love to see people grow and change. Experience spiritual change and growth. To come in and out of character’s lives. To watch the character fall in love. Have children. Maybe even grow old together.

Publishers also like series books. In today’s ever-changing publishing environment, publishers want an author to commit to them just as they are committing to the author. Publishers invest time and money growing an author’s reader base and it’s a much better investment if they spread the cost between several books.

Those are business reasons behind writing a series, but let me give you three reasons why you as an author might want to try this approach.

1. You get to know the characters very well and have a chance to reveal what makes them tick over the course of several books. Revealing bits and pieces book by book to pique the reader’s interest is such fun. Foreshadowing the main character for the next book not only reveals the character in an interesting way, but it also makes the secondary characters in your current book so much richer.

2. Once you research the main characters for the series, your work is done for several books. In my Homeland Heroes romantic suspense series, I had to dig into and discover the past of six leading characters in detail before I began the first book. A lot of work you say? Yes, at the beginning of each series there is a lot of work, but when it comes time to write the books, each one gets easier and easier because you know the characters so well. The last book, practically writes itself. Okay, I’m exaggerating here to make a point, but the time spent up front is well worth it in the end.

3. Writing a series is like spending your days with old friends. From the moment you sit down at your computer to the time you turn it off for the day, you spent your time with people you know. People you care about. And what could be more fun as a writer than that?

So I’ve shared my feelings about series, what do you think? As a reader do you like them? As a writer to do write them?


It's the intel every agent fears--terrorists have been smuggled into the country, intent on unleashing the most deadly attack since 9/11. With the threat imminent, FBI Agent Kiley Dawson and ICE Agent Evan Bowers are charged with taking down this terrorist cell. The only problem is Kiley blames Evan for the death of her former partner, and she can barely be in a room with him. But with millions of lives on the line, she has no choice.

If it wasn't for a bad call Evan made, Kiley's former partner would still be alive, and Evan has to live with that guilt for the rest of his life. When he starts falling for her, the agent's death seems an impossible obstacle--but it's also the last thing he needs to think about. As the terrorist plot targets Kiley's family, the two are pushed to the breaking point in a race to save countless lives.

Readers like series books. Period. They love them. Whether it’s the same main character book after book, or different leading characters, readers love to see people grow and change. Experience spiritual change and growth. To come in and out of character’s lives. To watch the character fall in love. Have children. @susansleeman @seriouslywrite

Writing a series is like spending your days with old friends. From the moment you sit down at your computer to the time you turn it off for the day, you spent your time with people you know. People you care about. And what could be more fun as a writer than that? @susansleeman @seriouslywrite


SUSAN SLEEMAN
is the bestselling author of over forty novels with more than a million books sold. She writes romantic suspense novels that are clean with inspiring messages of faith. Readers love her series for the well-drawn characters and edge-of-your-seat action. She graduated from the FBI and local police citizen academies, so her research is spot-on and her characters are real. In addition to writing, Susan also hosts TheSuspenseZone.com. She has lived in nine states but now calls Oregon home. Her husband is a retired church music director, and they have two beautiful daughters, a very special son-in-law, and an adorable grandson. To learn more about Susan’s books sign up for her monthly email that includes exclusive excerpts, giveaways, and other goodies. http://www.susansleeman.com/susans-newsletter/

9 comments:

  1. I can certainly see the truth in spending time with characters and how you get to know them very well in a series. I have been working on a 3-part since 2017 (with other project interruptions during that time) and have found it extremely difficult because the first was meant as a stand alone...until the younger sister decided she wanted to be the heroine. And then there was this half sister neither of them knew about. Oh my! Thus, book #3. It would have been wiser and easier if I'd known this from the start but have learned a lot that I can put to use going forward. Thanks for sharing your wisdom, Susan!

    ReplyDelete
  2. As a writer I almost always write series. I just wrapped up one and the characters were so fun to write because they were so familiar.
    As a reader, I read whatever sounds good to me. I rarely read an entire series. I often will read one book in a series and it's not necessarily the first book. I just read two books from different authors. Each of the books were part of a series. Neither was book one. One of the books was a continuation of the story before it which was a bit confusing, but I figured it out.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The difference in your reading and writing preferences are interesting, Kimberly.

      Delete
  3. Susan, I love series! Nothing makes me happier as a reader than knowing there will be more books with characters I already am invested in.

    As a writer I enjoy writing a series. I’m working on one now with three brothers and a sister.

    Thanks so much for visiting Seriously Write today!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I enjoy reading and writing series.

    I wrote a historical series, and I found it was easier to write the second and third books because so much of the research was already done, the setting was established, and some characters were already in place. It was rewarding to see some of them grow from Book 1 to Book 3.

    I wrote my contemporary romance as a standalone, but now readers want more of those characters. So, I'm hoping that I'm filling that request by writing a novella as a sequel.

    ReplyDelete
  5. You are so right. It is easier as the books go along in a series. Good luck on writing the novella.

    ReplyDelete

We'd love to hear your thoughts! Please leave comments. We'll moderate and post them!