I got some T-shirts made the other day with the Department 89 team on them. This led to a discussion on Facebook with an indie author friend about writing a series with a recurring set of characters. She said she couldn’t wrap her head around the idea of writing a series with the same characters over and over.
I, on the other hand, can do a series without breaking a sweat. In fact, it’s one of the easiest types of stories to do. Once you have your characters established, the rest is just gravy.
Look at a book series the same way as you would with a TV sitcom. You set up your cast of recurring characters. You give them their flaws, their faults, and their demons. Then put them in a situation where something is going to happen. Where the conflict and the sparks will light up.
That’s when you have your story.
For me, having to establish different characters for each book and new worlds is just too time consuming. I’d rather set up that world once, and with the exception of tweaking it along the way, just leave it the way it is.
Making a series also increases the chances of a TV show/movie contract and merchandising. Star Wars and Star Trek are classic examples of this.
Of course everybody is different. I know plenty of successful authors who do not write series and would never consider it. But if you look at a lot of very successful authors (Lee Child, Daniel Silva, Jeffery Deaver, Michael Connelly, and so on), you’ll see they established a series and ran with it.
There’s a reason why it works. Because readers want to get emotionally invested in a set of characters. They want characters to inspire them. And you don’t get that with a one-off character you only meet in one book.
It’s the secret sauce of writing, and as McDonalds will tell you, success is all in the secret sauce.