Among other things, I’m busily working away on my next book. For those of you tackling something similar, I thought I’d record a few thoughts on what I think goes into writing a successful series here.
The light bulb turned on with Harry Potter. I really enjoyed the books and followed them all the way to the end… but for me, it wasn’t the plot.
I returned to the Harry Potter books because of the richly imagined world JK Rowling built. I’m convinced that it was the strength of her world that made her such a marketing sensation and kept us all reading. You know what I mean: you bought the scarf… JK Rowling’s world was big enough for us all.
Another example of an amazing series is the Nightside books by Simon Green (definitely not YA, or for the mildly squeamish… there are things in these books that you’ll never forget). Yes, the world Simon Green creates is amazing but I believe the real strength of the writing lays in one of the strongest character voices I’ve come across.
And that I think this is key. To write a successful series, the second ingredient is a character who refuses to die or even live happily ever after. They have to be so big that we remain captivated by the awe and horror of their lives. They need to be constantly evolving, struggling and reinventing themselves. And absolutely memorable.
Finally, I think the third secret ingredient needs to be dangling subplots… nothing too big (I like to feel as if I’ve read a whole story when I put down a book), but just enough that the reader can feel like there’s more to come. It’s very satisfying to discover the answer to a subplot several books down the line.
So there are my thoughts. Hopefully with some planning and a little luck I’ll be able to work some of these thoughts into my next book, Shadowlands: The Hand of Darkness!