Writing Is Hard Work

Musings of a Hard Working Writer...

  • Roger Colby

3 Reasons to Not Write a Series (AND 3 Reasons Why You Should)


I think that I will never attempt another series.  It’s not that my series isn’t exciting as it really is.  I love the idea of creating a massive universe and then writing a ton of books in that world.  The problem is that I have so many other books I want to write, and all of them are stand-alone novels.

I’m working on this final book, but I thought I would go over a few reasons why writing a series is a real challenge.

Why you shouldn’t:

  1. A SERIES IS REALLY BIG – It takes a lot to create a world of characters, and in my case a universe of characters.  I spent 6 months just designing the worlds I could explore, and I haven’t really reached all of the places I designed much less all the creatures and species I wanted my main character to possibly encounter.  Will I come back to the series some day and re-visit some of these places?  Sure.  It may not be a novel but a short-story anthology that does it, though.

  2. A SERIES IS TIME CONSUMING – You really have to put all of your writing eggs in one basket to do a series.  You have to put all of the other stuff on the back burner in order to get it done and produce books in a timely manner.  If you leave your readers at a cliff-hanger with one book, you should probably get the new one out pretty soon as to not leave too much time between sequels.  I have made that mistake with the Five Rims series, and now the new book may not come out until November of this year, nearly a year and a half after the last book.

  3. A SERIES REQUIRES PATIENCE – It takes time to do a series and if you are suffering from adult ADD like myself, it takes a lot of effort to just stay on task.  I have a pretty busy life anyway with 4 teenage children, a full time teaching job, and several other demands.  Writing every day is difficult, and I’m finding that most days I just end up not writing which makes me have to go back and re-read what I wrote a few days ago.

Why you should:

  1. RICHER CHARACTERS – I have found that hanging out with these characters for three books has been rewarding in that I have been able to see where they would go throughout the saga that is the Five Rims.  I’m sure Guillermo would have been fine as a curmudgeonly hero who only changes slightly by the end of the first book, but now I’m beginning to see that he is much more noble than I thought he was.  I am in love with my female lead, mainly because I patterned her after my wife (grin) but because I have watched her grow from a strange ingenue who lived alone in the jungle to a sidekick to a love interest for the hero.  Sacrifices are still to be made, and I’ve introduced a few new characters for the third installment, but the connections between these characters have taught me much about characterization which will be used in the next book I write.

  2. ACCOMPLISHMENT – Let’s face it, writing a series and sticking to it is really an endeavor.  If you can complete one, then you’ve done something spectacular.  Most people don’t finish that one book they’ve been working on for years.  With the completion of The Shibboleth Code I will have written 6 novels.  I think that’s a huge milestone for this little indie writer.  Finishing the series will be tough (as I have to say goodbye to these characters) but when it is done I will feel like I’ve made my own personal trip to the moon and back.

  3. GROWTH – As a writer we tend to stay in our cave and crank out words, but I have grown more during my tenure as a series writer than I have ever grown in the course of writing stand-alone books.  It has taken everything I can muster at times to finish this series, and I know that this will help me in the long run when I start that new stand-alone about that immortal guy who has given up on humanity or that dystopia where political dissidents are mind-wiped to think they are androids and the public just goes along with it.  (You see…I have a lot more to write).

What are your personal pros and cons of writing a series?  Post them below and I promise I’ll respond!

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