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Series Issues


Recently, I read a series that came very highly recommended, as well as, part of another series.  I enjoyed both series, but was intrigued by the different ways these two authors created them.

The first author wrote a series that felt almost like a few separate books, with one central character, rather than a series.  As I continued reading books in this series, I realized that every book could stand entirely by itself, which was good in a lot of ways.  But, there was nothing in these books that made me compelled to read the next book.  Once I started reading a book, I always wanted to continue reading it, but I didn’t mind taking long gaps between reading one book and the next.  Still, I felt that creating a series this way would make it difficult to retain readers, unless they were extremely devoted.

The second author wrote a book FILLED with tons of characters and intricate subplots.  I am only a few short pages from finishing this book, but I found the number of characters confusing, and even though I got the sense that a lot of them will be important in the future, many of them seemed to make no real difference in this book.  So, why was I even introduced to them?

I have to believe these characters will be important in future books, but I wonder why I simply wasn’t introduced to them in these books.  Or, at the very least, I wish I hadn’t spent so many pages reading about characters that disappeared in the rest of the book.  But, I did feel compelled to read this book, and I am very excited to read the other books in the series.  I imagine this series has absolutely no problem retaining its readers, because you really want to know what will happen next.  The author does an excellent job creating a lot of questions that leave the reader wanting more.

So, what are your thoughts?  Is it better to introduce multiple characters that leave your readers curious about future books, or save those characters for when they really matter?

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  1. Both techniques have merit. I like the introduction of secondary characters in the book. However, sometimes I find myself wishing I was reading THAT character’s story now, instead of the main character’s story. So, it is definitely a balancing act. The main story has to be interesting enough and ensure attention isn’t diverted from it.

  2. I think writers have to be careful not to overwhelm their readers with their entire population. If a character is essential to the story, then yes, bring them right in. If not, have them hold back until they’re really needed in the story. I think the key is your characters have to move your story along and assist your main characters through the plot.


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