Wednesday, 9 January 2013

A few thoughts on novel series

Looking through my lists of books (written, part-written and to-be-written) and the series they belong to, at least in my mind, got me thinking about the very fluid way that we use the word ‘series’.

More often than not it’s used to describe a set of books linked by a character and a storyline (like for instance, Harry Potter). Other times it is used as a way of describing a group of books set in a particular world or ‘verse’ that share a common theme and sometimes share characters (Such as Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark Hunter series). Other times the series in question is an amalgamation of the two, one over-arching theme involving the same characters showing up now and then or all of the way through, but each individual book has its own storyline that links to the bigger picture (take The Saga of Darren Shan by the author of the same name). Personally I like that kind of series the best.

A lot of my books, or ideas, or partially written manuscripts are series. For some reason I think of characters or a storyline that is just too big for one book or I want to explore the past of other characters that isn’t really gone in to within the main book. That’s what happened with the Darkling Watch. The trilogy is set in a ‘verse’ as it were and there are other books within that same verse that either draw from characters in the trilogy or are influenced by elements that I have only scrapped the surface of.

The Chronicles of Geniania (that name needs work I know), which now also includes P.L. (previously o.S.a.M) is more a series of standalone books that are set in one world and now and then characters from one story may make cameos in another.

I don’t know what it is about series but I tend to prefer reading them, to reading standalone novels. Maybe it’s because inside it feels like maybe it will never end, I’ll get to keep seeing these characters living their lives, making mistakes and falling in love for the rest of my life. Or it might be that with series there’s that promise that all your questions will be answered within the other books eventually, as long as you keep reading.
I feel like it takes a lot of work for a writer to write a series. Not only are you charting the plot of each individual book but somehow, usually, you’ve got to make sure that each book links to another and that all questions are answered eventually. A writer has to stick to their characters not just in one book but in many. They have to make sure that characters don’t develop a completely new personality half way through the series. Most important is the amount of skill needed in their writing to make sure that their readers keep coming back for more.

Maybe I’m being overambitious, starting with a trilogy within a series or even setting most of my books within one series or another. It may drive me mad, it may make me want to crawl under my duvet and cry or take up chain-smoking some days. But it’s a challenge and I do so love to be challenged.

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