How to Plot a Series

So, you have a really cool premise, you plotted out a book, maybe even wrote a few chapters; however, in the back of your mind, you’re thinking to yourself, I want to make this a series. How to accomplish this?

Of course, there is a good reason to expand a single book into a series. If your first book is a success, readers will clamor for more of your world and your characters. It can end up being your bread-and-butter, but if you told everything you had in one book, you’re done.

There are many different types of series, but I will cover the two most common ones – arcs (usually trilogies) and serials.

Arcs are just a standard plot, but resolved over the course of several books. Usually, this is a trilogy, but could be more or less. Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series needed fourteen big books in order to resolve the overall plot. Let’s tackle how we would do it, and let’s do it with something simple like the Three Act Structure – Setup, Confrontation, and Resolution. Let’s come up with our plot. A lone knight must rescue the princess from the evil dragon.

Book 1 – The Setup. The entire book leads to a fight between the kingdom and the dragon. The dragon wins. He takes the princess, the kingdom lies in ashes.

Book 2 – The Confrontation. This book is about the quest of our hero to either seek help to aid him on his quest, contend with other forces who want the dragon to succeed in keeping the princess, a revolt in the kingdom back at home, and a prophesy that spells doom if the knight actually succeeds. Book 2 ends with the knight nearing the end of his quest or he’s had to contend with outside forces before getting to the dragon.

Book 3 – The Resolution. The knight continues to gather his resources and power. He marches up to the dragon’s castle at the end of the book and the climactic battle for the princess begins. A twist is the dragon is destroyed, but the princess was the threat all along and the series ends with the world under her razor-sharp heels.

The second part to plotting out a series is to treat it as an episodic serial. Your first book is your main character(s) origin story and then in each subsequent book, they are fighting a villain of the week. Maybe there is an overall arc, but it doesn’t have to be. Once you are done with the series, you start wrapping things up toward the end. This is suitable for authors who just want to reuse the same characters, but for different stories they have running through their mind.

In conclusion, a series will vastly help boost your readership and fan base if they can expect more from you regarding their favorite world and/or characters.

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