A Series of Questions about a Series of Books

Hi all,

This'll be a pretty simple post. Mostly I could just use a bit of the collected wisdom of the blogosphere.

My first book is a one shot deal, but I'm considering following it up with something that could turn into a series, but I've never done this before and the idea is a bit daunting.

So this is where you guys come in.

Have people out there written a series before or are you writing one now? Do you particularly like reading them? If yes to either of these, what draws you to a series? What do you think are the hallmarks of good series? The hallmarks of a bad series? What do you see as the particular challenges of a series? Are there common pitfalls I should try my best to avoid? Can you talk about some of your favorite series and why you think they work so well as a series?

See, I've got nothing but questions. I'd love to hear what you all think!

(Oh, and if you have no particular opinions on this issue, just tell us how your Halloween was. Mine was great. I made this complicated but delicious pie and watched Rosemary's Baby with the lovely wife. It seriously freaked her out. Good times!)


lotusgirl said...

I love series in part because i love spending more time with characters I care about. I generally only like them to go for 3 (maybe 4 if they are really good) books. After that they tend to lose focus. Harry Potter is an exception. That worked well as a 7 book series, but it had a reason to be 7 books. Most don't.

Renae said...

The key to a good series for me is the characters. If readers fall in love with the characters then they will be begging for more.

Mandy P.S. said...

I love series. I find standalones to be a nice break (both in reading and writing), but to me series is where the most in depth stories can happen. I love sticking with the same characters for an extended period of time and seeing how the plot develops.

While Renae has a good point that a good series is about the characters and being in love with them, it's also not enough. You have to have a plot that can support a series. I've read series where the only reason I kept reading was because I loved the characters and in the end I felt cheated because you had great characters that NOTHING happened to. There was no plot.

I think a really bad series has characters I don't care about, doing nothing. So a great series would be the opposite. :)

JoLynne Lyon said...

I love a series that stays fresh. The ones I've stayed with usually have something other than plot that keeps me engaged, like quirky or mysterious new characters and social issues I care about. But as soon as the plot starts repeating itself, I'm outta there.

Colene Murphy said...

Series are excellent if done well. I love being able to stay in a beloved book world longer than 1 novel.

Melody said...

I personally love series. (As long as I fall in love with the world and characters in the first book...) Staying in a created world I like is amazing. However, here's some things NOT to do:

- Stop the series when it's time. Don't force it if you've run out of ideas.
- Don't draw us in with excellent writing and stories for the first few books and then launch political agendas at your captive audience. (*coughMaximumRidecough*)
- Don't hurry your finale. It will show, and your readers will hate you and say so on their blogs.
- Be aware of the questions your readers are asking as the series is written. (Examples: Who is she going to end up with? Did so-and-so really die, or was that faked?) And answer them sometime before you finish. Please.
- If you've got to kill awesome characters that people have learned to love over the series, give them a good death scene. *coughMockingjaycough*

:) Good luck! :D
No seriously, series are awesome. I can't wait to read what you're writing!

amberargyle said...

I love series as well, but only if they're as good or better than the first. I've read many a series with a fantastic first book that just trails off into yawn.

Donea Lee said...

Seems like I'm echoing opinions already given, but I agree. I love a good series because I want to be involved in their world longer. I want to spend more time with characters I love. I want to escape into something familiar - thus, the next book and the next. But, I also agree that you need enough plot to warrant more than 1 book. Twilight, for example (don't hate me for saying this) if you'd cut out half of Bella's whining, you'd have gotten 2 books...maybe. (Crap - did I type that out loud?) :) One more suggestion? Don't make the series predictable.

Michelle said...

I'm a huge fan of reading series. I like it mainly because I get to know and invest in characters in the first book and like to see how they further grow and develop in subsequent stories. It's quite enjoyable and satisfying to have that familiarity and comfort. It's like hanging out with old friends.