Hey guys! My series of guest posts continues with the blogger and author super ninja star, Alex J. Cavanaugh, who will tell you about writing a series. This is a nice refresher for me as I'm preparing to continue a series myself. I leave the bridge in your care, Sir Alex!
By the way, Comic Con FanX was a blast! Pictures coming soon.
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My Cassa series was a lot of fun, but I knew where to end it. Three books were enough to tell Byron’s story. I have since written two short stories, one that takes place before the first book and one that occurs ten years after the last one. But anything else I write in the Cassan universe will follow Byron’s son instead.
Most authors who write series planned for the story to span over several books. Some found new adventures for their characters and kept going. And then some of us wrote the first book with no intentions of going any further.
One advantage I found when writing the second book was the world and main character were already established and familiar. I didn’t need to reinvent the wheel or do a ton of research. It actually gave me more freedom to expand into new areas because I already had a foundation. I liken a book series to a television series. There’s more time to explore and develop characters. People change as they grow older and I could put mine through the same growth. And like a television episode, each book stands on its own but there’s a character arc from the first book to the last.
The biggest advantage is the built-in fan base. Those who enjoyed the first wanted to read the remaining books. They latched on to the main character and were curious where he would go next. We like to explore, but we also like a measure of security, and that’s what the main reoccurring characters can provide.
Of course, a series comes will challenges. A big one is keeping the stories fresh. No one wants to read the same story twice. I had to make sure what I was doing to Byron was something new and interesting. He couldn’t keep saving his people the same way over and over again.
There’s also the issue of keeping the details straight. It’s easy to forget what was written in the first book when working on the third. (Especially as I don’t read my stories again after they are published.) I did have to check back and make sure I had characters and dates straight. And names! And the greatest challenge – make each book better than the previous one. I knew I was evolving as a writer and getting better every day, but it’s a huge pressure to deliver an even bigger bang. By the third book, I pretty much threw in everything but the kitchen sink.
What really saved me was the length of time in between each story – twenty years. A lot can happen during that time and it guaranteed my main character resided in a different position in life for each book. It also gave me an influx of new secondary characters to keep things interesting. For me, those twenty year jumps kept it fresh.
After all, the dude is getting old now!
Alex J. Cavanaugh has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and works in web design, graphics, and technical editing. A fan of all things science fiction, his interests range from books and movies to music and games. Online he is the Ninja Captain and founder of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. He’s the author of Amazon Best-Sellers CassaStar, CassaFire, CassaStorm, and Dragon of the Stars. The author lives in the Carolinas with his wife.