I’m a big fan of sequels … who wants to say goodbye to characters they love? But they have to make sense; there has to be a reason to stop back by and visit. The characters in a well done series can feel like life long friends.
Here is Hayley B James to talk about serials and how she is constructing her own series.
Why I Read Series
I have a handful of series I follow. Some romance, most not. A couple finished, a few not. I get excited when the next book in an ongoing series is released. I don’t always have time to read the new release, but the excitement is still there because I know another adventure with my favorite characters is ready for me! Maybe it isn’t a continuation of the same characters. Maybe the next in the series has a side character as the lead, or a new story with new characters set in the same world. Either way, sign me up.
There are two categories of series I follow. One: follow the leader. The same lead(s) returns with a fresh story. Two: Spin off. There’s a new lead but in the established world. Looking at the series I read, I notice more fall under category one—which is weird since the series I write (Water Waltz) falls under category two.
My favorite follow the leader series are not romance. (what!) I think one falls under romance but it’s straight and not very sexy. (meaning there’s a serious lack of bodices being ripped off.)
In a regular novel, the reader is introduced to the hero and has 300-something pages to watch them grow. It depends on the story itself, but a character can do a lot of growing in a typical novel. Now take that “life experience growth” and add to it in each additional book in a series. That’s a lot of personal change and growth. I’m a sucker for character development so that’s probably why this type of series is appealing to me as a reader.
But it isn’t just seeing the character grow that’s appealing in these series. Like keeping up with a dear friend, I get to read about Mr. Lead Character as his life progresses in the pages. In the Sebastian St. Cyr mysteries by C.S. Harris, Sebastian in book one is not the same guy in book five. I mean, he is the same man obviously, but his experiences in four books will change how he sees life so he himself is also changed.
In these stories, the reader often gets one long story in the series of other stories. The long story will be the lead’s life, and the small stories are individual books. In other series, the overall story arc might not be the life of the lead, but a goal to be reached and each book is a step toward that goal. In ongoing series, there’s room for character development, world building, and hours and hours of entertainment value for the reader.
In the second category, we keep the world but lose the lead as the main character. We do pick up a new hero for the new story, which is sometimes just as nice. We as readers meet fresh meat without being reintroduced to the setting. We already know the world so now we just need to get to know the characters and their new stories. I like the series where it isn’t an entirely new cast, but a minor character from the prior book(s) taking the spotlight. The others aren’t forgotten, but they step aside for the new boys. You fall in love with Mr. Side Character in book 1, and then get to learn all about him in book 2.
Oddly enough, the books I read that fall under this category are only romance books. I’m not sure how this happened. The first in Blue Notes series by Shira Anthony introduces a few side characters, and one just so happens to steal the lead role for book #2. It’s a whole new story but it’s a part of the world started in the first book. I do a similar thing in Water Waltz. A side character already introduced in the first book takes over the lead role for the second. The other characters aren’t forgotten or cast aside—but they turn into supporting cast.
What series is your favorite? Do you prefer series that keep the same lead, or do you like minor characters coming back as leads?
Hayley has added a print book to our GRL Reading Challenge Grand Prize. Remember to post your list for your chance to enter.