The pros and cons of writing a series

In some ways, writing a novel that is part of a series is easier than writing a stand-alone. In others, it isn’t. Here’s a few examples:

1. You already have some of your cast in place … so you need to take extra care when creating new characters.

2. You know the universe, and some of what has gone before … but you need to convey what you know in a way that will satisfy a new reader who isn’t familiar with the set-up, whilst not boring an existing one who is.

3. Some of what happens will follow naturally and smoothly from what went before … and some of what might happen actually can’t, as a result of those earlier decisions.

So, here I am getting to grips with book four in a series of more-than-five, and the big story that I’m telling through all the smaller ones is rapidly gaining momentum. Keeping track of my own canon is both fiddly and intimidating, and that’s only going to get worse, but I also find that the weight of what has gone before anchors me. It’s great to have such a rich playground to frolic in. Stories begun in earlier books that I’m picking up in Bringer of Light, are going in directions that I had no inkling of when I wrote those books; at the same time a realisation I had back in the summer (about the male Sidhe, if you’re interested) means that the story is about to go off in a new (and hopefully interesting) direction. I’ve already seeded Guardians of Paradise with a few ideas that won’t pay off until later in the series, and will continue to do that in this novel, because this story is going to need a few more books yet. Although the actual extruding of the words is often a slow and painful process, at times like this I love my job.

3 Responses to The pros and cons of writing a series

  1. Joel 11 January 2010 at 7:47 pm #

    Well if you need a continuity advisor once your all big and successful, I’ll do it, if dearly beloved doesn’t.

    • JaineFenn 11 January 2010 at 8:05 pm #

      Thanks for the offer. So far my years of training (i.e. GMing) are standing me in good stead, and I’m keeping on top of my universe, but I’m aware that a day may come when a sharp-eyed reader spots a discontinuity that I’ve missed…

  2. SF Signal 12 January 2010 at 6:31 am #

    Interviews/ProfilesThe Agony Column interviews S. T. Joshi (podcast).DC Quarterly interviews Cory Doctorow.The Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy Podcast interviews Paolo Bacigalupi.Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist interviews Joe Abercrombie.Charge of the Literary Brigade interviews Literary Agent Ginger Clark. (via SFWA)The Guardian profiles Jonathan…

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