During my promo for my latest prehistoric fiction, Laws of Nature. one of my wonderful hosts posted this article I wrote briefly about stand-alone novels vs. series. In case missed it, here’s a revisit:
I got into a discussion with Robbie over at Robbie’s Inspirations a while ago about the mechanics of writing a series. She writes stand-alone books while I write mostly trilogies. If you don’t follow her, you are missing out. She reviews books, writes them, and discusses classics like Dostoevsky. Do yourself a favor–check her out.
The issue we were discussing that day:
When you write a series in the same setting and featuring the same people, how do you keep the descriptions fresh in each book. In other words, how much attention do you give to describing the people and places in the subsequent books to keep the books stand alone and yet part of a series?
What a great question. Here’s what I do:
I struggled with that at first and then analyzed how other authors did series. Sometimes, they included a quick summary of important facts in subsequent books within the series. Sometimes, they provided tantalizing hooks–maybe to drive readers to the earlier books. Other times, when something wasn’t terribly relevant to the story, they skipped it.
I do a hybrid of all three. Where the story would limp without some background, I add that briefly, usually as narrative but occasionally (as in my current publication, Laws of Nature) as a flashback. One answer doesn’t fit and I respond to the particular needs of the current volume in the series/trilogy. Because I read a lot of series, I take note of how authors address this and mostly, when it fits the author’s voice and the story’s pacing, I like their varied efforts.
What do you do?
Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Man vs. Nature saga, the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers, and the acclaimed Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, blog webmaster, an Amazon Vine Voice, a columnist for NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Natural Selection, Winter 2022