Sunday, June 19, 2016

Planning a sequel

There has been a rash of serialized stories being published. The idea is take a “book”, make sure each chapter or “chunk” ends on a good hook, and then sell each chapter, or chunk as a separate mini-book.

This works fine as long as readers are invested in the full “story” and don’t get tired of paying by chapter (which usually costs more than buying the total book would cost) or stop caring about the final resolution of the entire story.

Each book (or mini-book) in a series must advance the story arc of the entire venture. Readers have to want to read more, to get to the final resolution.

A genuine series might have a different main character, or a different hero and heroine in each book, but each stand-alone story will lead the reader closer to the endpoint of the entire story arc. It’s this overall umbrella story that needs to draw in the reader so they stay buying and reading until the final episode.

Within each episode something must have happened. The characters must have grown, developed, learned something, solved some problem. With a regular book simply sliced into pieces, often this doesn’t happen. The “hook” at the end is artificial, placed there for the sole purpose of making sales, rather than advancing the characters’ journey.

If you are planning a series, ensure each volume tells a story, and that readers will want to follow the longer, higher story arc to the rest of the books.

Helen Woodall

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.

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