One Writer’s Journey

August 16, 2017

The Appeal of Series Fiction

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:59 am
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In contemplating a fix for a recent manuscript, I came across James Scott Bell’s post on what makes a great series character. As so often happens, this to me thinking . . . this time about the differences between a long-running series and stand alone fiction.

Especially when you write for children, a big part of fiction is character growth.  Whether your character achieves her goal or fails, somehow she grows.  This is kind of a big deal because our audiences are growing physically, mentally, and emotionally.  Creating character who also grow in the course of the story helps our readers identify with them.

But in a series, especially a long running series, this can be problematic. Imagine if the Boxcar children had grown.  Even if they had simply learned a new skill in each book, they’d be like four MacGyvers by now, able to build a spaceship from the junk found in the bottom of Violet’s purse. If they had matured physically in course of each book, young readers today, because the series is ongoing, would be reading the adventures of their great-great-grandchildren.

The reality is that the same-ness of the characters is part of what draws readers into a series.  Series characters are appealing in some way. Some of them have an amazing sense of style.  Others are driven and won’t take no for an answer. Whatever it is, they are characters who find themselves in the middle of fun adventures.  Readers know more or less what to expect and that’s what they want.  Predictable fun.

That can be an important thing in an unpredictable world.

For more on series fiction, see Writing a Series and How Do You Plot a Series. Fingers crossed that the idea I’m playing with is the fix I need for my most recent picture book manuscript.





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