Me and my boyfriend are super-hooked on TV series’. With streaming sites such as Netflix and NowTV the world of the TV box set has definitely become our oyster.
Whether it be Stargate SG1, Stargate Atlantis, House MD, The Walking Dead, House of Cards, Game of Thrones, Battlestar Galactica, Lost, Breaking Bad, Grey’s Anatomy……the list goes on and on…..we’ve been hooked from start to finish.
And we’re certainly not the only ones, what is it about what a TV series almost religiously, over films for example?
One thing that springs to mind is that each episode is generally about 40 minutes long, great if you’ve had a busy day, and you bedtime is fast approaching, and you don’t have the time, energy or patience to watch a full length film – perfect stick on an episode. But what makes the series so addictive – it isn’t just the length of each episode that keeps us coming back for more.
Does our addiction of series extend to book series’? I think it may do – if it’s done right. Stand alone books are great too – that’s what I generally do (although it is early days yet for me and my writing).
But what makes a great series – whether it be book or TV?
You have to create characters that people can identify with. You have to create one or two characters that will run throughout the series. And you’ve got to throw enough conflict at them for a series to be sustained. You can also allow your main character to grow and adapt and learn from experiences, but they mustn’t lose that part of them that made the reader identify – or root for them or with them in the first place.
You have to be aware of the timeline at all times. You may decide for the timeline to cover a few weeks or generations – and so you have to be aware of how time passes within each book and within the series as a whole.
You should create a list or profile of the characters and the world that they live in and what’s happened to them. You may have originally given your main character blue eyes and by the end of the series they may have turned brown – I know that’s a simple example but it’s one that could happen remarkably easily – and be remarkably easy to avoid.
4. The World in Which They Live
Every great series has a background – some are created from scratch others taken from the real world, past or present. You need to identify in advance what elements of the world you are going to use, and where the action is going to take place. Most TV series’ for example have one main location where events take place and a handful of other locations. Use the same principle within your series. Even if your character moves quite considerably from place to place, like Richard Sharpe in Bernard Cornwell’s brilliant Sharpe series. The series takes him from India and into Europe including Spain, Portugal and France, but while the countries change the immediate back drop doesn’t always: barracks, open fields of marching men, city streets: all with similar characteristics. [This is perhaps a bit basic – but you see my point].
5. The Hook – Keeping Your Readers Hooked
You’ve got a great main character and a band of others to keep the series moving; most series have some over-arching hook to keep the readers coming back for more. It could be a detective like Agatha Christie’s creations, or it could be a book a year in a school, like the Harry Potter series; each book has got to have a conflict of its own to enable to stand up on its own in its own right. But also each book has to tie in with each other. There has to be some fluidity between each book in the series.
Hopefully, I’ve given you a rough idea of a few basic principles for writing a book series but I’ll post some links to get a better idea. Just search the internet for more examples on how to write a series.