Fiction Writing Made Easy

#131: 5 Steps To Start Planning Your Book Series

February 27, 2024 Savannah Gilbo Episode 131
Fiction Writing Made Easy
#131: 5 Steps To Start Planning Your Book Series
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“The key to making books within a series work is to grow, escalate, and complicate the conflict and stakes from book to book.” - Savannah Gilbo

A good book series allows readers to immerse themselves in a world and stay there. But how do you write a series that works? To start, here are 5 steps to help you start planning your book series.

Read the blog post here!

Here’s a preview of what’s included:

[01:42] Savannah discusses the the three primary categories of book series—static, dynamic, and anthology.

[03:06] The 5 steps to start planning your book series.

[11:48] Analyzing a character's journey across the Hunger Games trilogy.

[14:50] Unpacking Voldemort's grand plot objective versus the specific goals within each book—and the strategic implications.

[21:35] A useful exercise to stimulate plot ideas for your series.

[29:03] A bonus tip for enriching the worldbuilding/setting of your book series.

[32:45]  As you can see, there’s a lot that goes into planning a book series. Don’t expect to have everything figured out in one or two sittings. This is something you’ll need to start and add to over time, so please know that going into this process!

Links Mentioned In This Episode:

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Speaker 1:

The key to making books within a series work is to grow, escalate and complicate the conflict and stakes from book to book. It's not mixing up the genres from book to book, okay. So escalating the conflict and stakes is going to pull readers into your series, while mixing up the genres from book to book will push them away. So just something to keep in mind, determining the genre of your series and of each individual book within your series as well. Welcome to the Fiction Writing Made Easy podcast. My name is Savannah Gilbo and I'm here to help you write a story that works. I want to prove to you that writing a novel doesn't have to be overwhelming, so each week, I'll bring you a brand new episode with simple, actionable and step-by-step strategies that you can implement in your writing right away. So, whether you're brand new to writing or more of a seasoned author looking to improve your craft, this podcast is for you. So pick up a pen and let's get started.

Speaker 1:

In today's episode, we're going to talk about how to start planning a book series, and I'm so excited to talk about this topic because it's one that I get a lot of questions about. So people will write into the show all the time and they'll ask me things like how do you even start planning out a book series, how do you keep conflicts and character arcs going over such a long period of time, how do you create a sense of resolution at the end of each book but still allow the plot to continue into the next one, and other questions like that. I get so many questions about writing a series, so I wanted to tackle the first steps in today's episode. But before we get into all those juicy details, we need to talk about what kind of series you're writing first. So there are three main types of book series that you can write. The first one is a static series, which is a series of books that features the same character or group of characters, but the individual stories aren't necessarily connected and there's typically no overarching storyline or character arc. So an example of books like this would be something like the Goosebumps books. Right, those are individual stories that make up the Goosebumps series. The second kind of series you could write is a dynamic series. So this kind of book series follows a character or a group of characters across multiple books, in which the plot problem grows, escalates and complicates. So this means that both the plot and the character must evolve over time, and an example of this kind of series is something like the Hunger Games. The third kind of series is an anthology series. So this type of series includes books that are linked by one or more defining elements like theme or setting, and often features a different cast of characters per book, though not always so. An example of something like this would be the Giver series. Those books take place in the same world but feature a different protagonist each time. So those are the three types of book series that you could choose to write, but for the purpose of this episode, I'm going to assume you're writing a dynamic book series, since that is the most common choice.

Speaker 1:

So, with that being said, let's dive into the first five steps to take when planning a dynamic book series. Step one is to identify the theme of your series and of each book. So, just like each individual book in your series, your series as a whole needs a strong central theme to tie everything together. It's usually something that you can express in one sentence, and it's dependent on the content genre of your series. So, for example, a series of romance novels will all speak to the themes of love, intimacy and relationships with other people. A series of action stories set in a fantasy world will speak to themes of life, death, survival and sacrifice. If you want to go deeper in the steps to take to figure out the theme of your series or of your individual stories, you can go back and listen to episode number five. It's called Three Ways to Figure Out the Theme of your Story. We will link to that in the show notes for easy access. But essentially, if you can identify the theme of your series during the planning stage, you'll have an easier time mapping out the plot and character arcs in each individual book.

Speaker 1:

So, for example, let's say you're writing a series that speaks to an individual's power and responsibility to stand up to evil. You could start brainstorming some micro lessons or themes that you could explore in each individual book. So book one could be about learning that evil actually exists in the world. So maybe your character is a little bit naive and they didn't really know that evil existed in the world. Or they didn't think that evil existed in a way that's kind of close to them. Maybe they thought it was a bigger issue that would never affect them until it did. So that could be what book one is about.

Speaker 1:

Book two could be about what it means to take action and stand up to evil. So now that your character has seen evil and they know it exists, what are they going to do about it? And then, let's say, you're writing a three book trilogy and so book three is going to be the last one. It could be about what happens if your protagonist friends aren't willing to stand up against evil with them. So in this book it becomes a question of will your protagonist stand up to evil alone or will they kind of give up and give in? And I know this isn't a perfect example, but that's okay because, remember, we're talking about the planning stages, right, we're just trying to map things out, but hopefully in the example you can see how each individual book's theme can build on the one before it to form a final takeaway or a series theme.

Speaker 1:

This is what you're aiming for in the planning stage. So that is step one. You want to identify the theme of your series and just rough ideas of what each individual book could explore. Step two is to determine your series genre and the genre of each book. Now, in most cases, the external and internal genre of each individual story in your series is going to match that of your series as a whole. So, for example, the Harry Potter series is a combination of the action and worldview genres. The same is true of each individual book within that series. The Bridgerton books are all a combination of the love and worldview genres. Each individual book speaks to the power of love, and so does the series, and the reason this is important when you're in the planning stage is that you can use your genre framework to help you map out your series and each individual book within that series. So identifying your genre mix is going to help you do that in a much easier way. For example, if you're writing a series of action books, you might have some ideas about what the climax could look like in a few of your books, but maybe the beginning and the middle of each of those stories is pretty unclear. If that's the case, that's okay. You can use your genre framework to flesh out your ideas and get those creative juices flowing, because remember your story's content genre can give you insight into a lot of things, like what your protagonist wants and needs, what's at stake, or what your protagonist has to lose or gain, which key scenes and conventions you need to include to satisfy readers, what theme or topic your story explores, and so much more.

Speaker 1:

Now you might be wondering should my series be made up of multiple genres or should I just pick one and kind of stick to that? And the short answer is just to keep it simple, don't overcomplicate this, especially in the planning stage. You will most likely have multiple genres at play within each of your books, so, for example, you might have a romance subplot in each of your stories, and that's great. But what you don't want to do is mix up the genres of each individual book within your series. So, for example, you wouldn't want book one of your series to be a love story, while book two is a mystery and book three is horror, and the reason for this is that it just wouldn't be a good experience for your readers and it will likely result in them feeling disappointed if they even finish your series.

Speaker 1:

Now, as a real life example of this, I loved book one of the All Souls trilogy by Deborah Harkness. It's called a discovery of witches if you've never heard about it, and it has witches, vampires, romance secrets and life and death stakes All the things I love in a good fantasy book. But when I read book two in the series. It's called Shadow of Night. I was disappointed because it felt like a totally different kind of book from what I read in book one, so it was slower than book one and it read more like historical fiction than fantasy, which I was not expecting, and because of this I didn't finish book two or the trilogy. So in this scenario, the author had broken my trust and, as a reader, I moved on to another book.

Speaker 1:

So I want you to avoid doing this with your book series, and the point I want to make here is that the key to making books within a series work is to grow, escalate and complicate the conflict and stakes from book to book. It's not mixing up the genres from book to book. Okay, so escalating the conflict and stakes is going to pull readers into your series, while mixing up the genres from book to book will push them away. So just something to keep in mind while working through step two, determining the genre of your series and of each individual book within your series as well. And if you want to go deeper on how to choose the right genre for your series and for each individual book, you can go back and listen to episode number two that's called how to Choose the Right Genre for your Story, and we will link to that episode in the show notes as well.

Speaker 1:

Okay, so moving on to step three. Step three is to map your character arcs across the series. So a character arc just describes how a character changes because of the external conflict they face. And just as a single novel in your series must transform someone, or multiple someone's if you have multiple points of view your series as a whole must do the same thing. So this means that during the planning stage you need to explore two things Number one, how does your character start the series? And number two, how does your character end the series? So we want to look for who they start the series as and who they end the series as, and ideally, who your character is at the beginning of your series would be in direct conflict with who they are at the end, and that's just because we're working towards that arc of change, right? So once you know your series theme, you can kind of back out how your character will change or how they start and end the series, and this is a little tip that if you're taking notes, you will definitely want to write down.

Speaker 1:

So, at the beginning of your series, your character is going to believe the opposite of the theme of your series. Okay, so, for example, if you're writing a series that speaks to an individual's power and responsibility to stand up to evil, like we talked about in step one, your character might start the series feeling powerless and small, so they might be naive and sheltered and have no idea of the greater evil that exists in the world. That might be where they start book one, right. Then, by the end of the series, not only would your character know that evil exists, but they'd be someone who believes in and has internalized the theme of your series, and they're going to be someone who takes action against evil as well. Right, so we want to identify those two key points on their arc how do they start the series and how do they end the series? And this means you'll want to look for your character's internal obstacle at the start of your series. So this is the lie, the misbelief or that outdated worldview that they kind of need to unlearn or shed in order to accept the theme of your series and achieve their goals. And then from there you can consider what new problems could arise once your character learns part of that overarching lesson in book one. So we want to break it down into kind of smaller or smaller lessons that add up to the theme of your story. And if you think about this like real life, right life lessons often lead to more questioning, more exploring and more lessons along a similar track or theme.

Speaker 1:

So the same is going to be true for your characters in your books. As an example, we can consider Katniss Everdeen's growth arc in the Hunger Games trilogy. Right by the end of that series, she's led a team of rebels through the burning streets of the capital, she's killed the president and she's helped give rise to a new panem, the Katniss that we met at the start of book one wouldn't have wanted to or wouldn't have been capable of doing all this. She had to grow and change first, and with each book in the trilogy she moved closer to becoming that ultimate version of herself, taking steps forward and backward along the way. The same is going to be true for your character as well, and that's just because, as your character makes decisions motivated by their internal obstacle, in each book, at the start of each book, they're going to experience the consequences of those choices moving forward, and over time those consequences add up until the character is finally forced to confront that internal obstacle within each book. And that's what's going to help add up to that overarching series arc of change. So, in other words, each book is going to push your character forward and sometimes backwards, until they reach their ultimate destiny at the end of your series.

Speaker 1:

Okay, so that's step three Map out your character's arc across the series. Don't worry about getting this perfect. We're just creating kind of a rough plan at this stage. Okay, so moving on to step four, step four is to brainstorm your antagonist or your antagonists, if you have multiple throughout your series. So when you're plotting a dynamic series, there has to be some kind of larger thread or larger conflict holding the books together. That thread usually comes in the form of an overarching goal from your protagonist's angle and the conflict they face as they pursue that goal. And everything starts with your antagonists, because without them there would be nothing for your protagonist to react to. This is why understanding your antagonist's goals, motivations and plans is key to planning your book series. So your antagonist's goal and the actions they take to accomplish that goal is what's going to help you form the plot of each book in your series.

Speaker 1:

On the flip side of this, the misguided way that your protagonist reacts to whatever your antagonist is doing is going to create those consequences that your protagonist has to deal with until they finally learn the lesson of each book and then eventually the theme or lesson of your series. So, as an example, in the Hunger Games trilogy there's a uniting thread and the overarching goal, that's the revolution of Panem and whether or not the districts will defeat the capital. And who spearheads everything the capital is doing? The president, right, specifically President Snow, and then, in later books, president Coin. So imagine the Hunger Games books without that antagonistic character. Right, it might still be fun to read about, you know, all these kids in an arena fighting to their death, but there would be nothing holding the overarching series together and helping the author escalate the conflict and stakes over the course of the series. So your series antagonist is going to provide the main conflict that your protagonist will face, but they will most likely be a hierarchy of antagonists across each of your individual books.

Speaker 1:

So, for example, voldemort is the series antagonist in the Harry Potter books, right, but in most of the earlier books, harry faces multiple levels of antagonism, whether that's Draco Malfoy or Professor Snape or you know people like that. He faces those multiple levels of antagonism before confronting Voldemort. And the reason for this is really just because both Harry and Voldemort must grow and change until they can properly and more or less evenly confront each other. Because, remember, at the beginning of the books, harry's 11 and Voldemort doesn't really have a human body right. So they have to grow and change physically, emotionally, in their skill levels and things like that, until they can properly and evenly confront each other.

Speaker 1:

And speaking of Voldemort, if we look at him as a case study, his ultimate goal across the entire book series is to become immortal and to gain power. He fears death and he views it as a mortal weakness, so he wants to avoid dying right and throughout the series, all the way from book one when he's, you know, living on the back of Professor Quirrell's head, all the way from that point to the end of the series, we see him take action on his quest for immortality and power throughout each individual book. So he has a specific goal. He takes action on that goal, harry gets in the way of that goal and conflict ensues, right. So if we were to quickly kind of look at each book and say what is Voldemort's specific plan and how does he take action? And then how does that lead to conflict? We can see how those elements escalate and complicate over time. So in book one, voldemort he has a simple plan. He thinks he wants to acquire and use the Sorcerer's Stone with Professor Quirrell's help. If he does this he will become immortal and he will gain power once he's done that. So Harry really isn't on his radar as something he needs to deal with right now, until Harry starts to interfere and interrupt Voldemort's plans.

Speaker 1:

In book two, voldemort is basically recuperating in the present right, so he's failed to acquire the Sorcerer's Stone. In book one he's recuperating in the present and then in the past. Via Tom Riddle's diary and the basilisk that he summons, he's taking action to destroy the wizards and witches that he deems less than, and he's also trying to get Harry Potter out of the way so that eventually, when he recuperates, he can kind of get back on that quest for immortality and power. In book three he has a new plan. So he's going to use Wormtail or Peter Pettigrew to get Harry so that he can kill Harry if the dementors don't do it for him already. So in this book the dementors are assigned to Hogwarts. They're kind of camping out there and, you know, threatening the kids every now and then, things like that. So because he's not really in his full body yet, he doesn't have the power that he used to, he's going to use Wormtail to help him get Harry out of the way.

Speaker 1:

In book four, voldemort wants to help Harry win the Tri-Wizard Tournament so that he can use quote unquote the flesh of his enemy to cast a spell to rebuild his body. So he still got Wormtail helping him do this. And now he's got one of his other agents using the Polyjuice Potion to infiltrate the school and help Harry win the tournament. So that's Book 4, and then in Book 5, after he's kind of, you know, come back into his body. He's succeeded in Book 4. His plan in Book 5 is to thwart the order of the Phoenix, which, if he's successful in kind of getting them out of the way, it's going to let him get close to and kill Harry Potter. And in the meantime, while he's doing all that thwarting, he is looking for a specific prophecy that he believes will tell him how to kill Harry Potter once he gets the chance.

Speaker 1:

Now, by the time we get to Book 6, he has gained some power, right. So he's back in his full body, he's amassing death eaters and all these things. And in Book 6, he's officially declared war on the wizarding world and he is continuing to pick off members of the order and he succeeds in killing his main target, Dumbledore. So although Harry has been thwarting Voldemort along the way, voldemort is kind of moving closer to that ultimate goal of immortality and power. And then finally, in Book 7, he wants to find the Elder Wand so that he can finally kill Harry once and for all. So he's found the prophecy, he's killed off Harry's mentor and he's ready to finally destroy the one person that's in his way. And in the meantime, once he kind of realizes that Harry is actively destroying the Horacruxes, he wants to prevent Harry from doing that as well. So the sooner he can kill Harry, the sooner that Harry will stop destroying the Horacruxes. So, as you can see, in each book Voldemort has a really specific goal in his quest for immortality and power. Sometimes he makes progress on that goal, sometimes he has to go back a few steps, right. But when the series begins, harry, he gets in the way of Voldemort's goals in kind of a reactive way, right. He's just kind of taking these smaller steps to prevent Voldemort from coming back into his full body and eventually succeeding in that quest for immortality and power. By the middle and the end of the series, harry is taking more proactive measures to stop Voldemort and prevent him from coming into full immortality and power. So I really like this example because it really shows the individual little plans that Voldemort has on this bigger quest. So definitely a good case study and a good series that is worth studying.

Speaker 1:

Now you might be wondering what about a series of standalone books? And I did say I was going to focus on a dynamic series of books, but I know I'm going to get this question a lot. So what do we do with the antagonist in a series of standalone books? And really the same guidelines apply, but there's probably not going to be an overarching antagonist. So in most cases there's going to be an overarching, genre-appropriate antagonist archetype. And what I mean by this is, if we look at the Bridgerton books as an example, each book focuses on a different couple, so the antagonist is a different person, right, but the antagonist is always a love interest. That's that antagonist archetype and, like we talked about earlier. The themes of each story speak directly to the point that love conquers all or love wins right, the power of love. So just let me think about if you're writing series of standalone books.

Speaker 1:

But that's step number four. You want to brainstorm your antagonist and your hierarchy of antagonist throughout the series. And again, don't strive for perfection. You are not going to have everything figured out as you go through this planning process. We're just trying to get things down on paper so that you can start to see your series take shape. Okay, so now we're on the last step of kind of planning out the big sweep of your series, and step number five is to start laying out the plot of your series and of each individual story. So by this point, if you follow the four previous steps, you should kind of start to see the plot of your story and each individual book develop organically.

Speaker 1:

So from this point on, there are two main things I recommend doing in planning out the plot of each book. Number one is figure out the specific goal and conflict of each book, kind of like we just talked about. And then number two is figure out how to escalate the conflict and stakes from book to book. So just to reiterate what we talked about in step four, each book in a series must have its own set of goals and conflicts to be won, lost or resolved by the end of each installment. But the series also needs to track a larger overarching goal and conflict throughout all the books. And by doing the work to develop your series antagonists and how that antagonistic role will be filled in each one of your books, that's going to give you a lot of insight into how to do this. So it's going to give you insight into those overarching goals that your protagonist will have, the conflict they face as they go after their plans and things like that. So those are going to be the building blocks of your series goals and conflicts.

Speaker 1:

Okay, and I brought this up a little bit when I was talking about the antagonist, but you know, sometimes your protagonist will win, sometimes your antagonist will win, sometimes they each kind of win in their own way, right Like in the Hunger Games. We see Katniss win the Hunger Games by the end of the first book. So although you know it wasn't the most pleasant time ever in the arena and kind of going up against the Capitol, she did win, she did survive. And this is important because without these smaller resolutions and you know, opening the door at the beginning of book one, closing the door on that story's plot and then opening the door for something in book two without those smaller resolutions, readers will feel cheated and they will eventually lose interest. So what you want to do is kind of brainstorm how these smaller resolutions can feed into the larger goal and conflict that your protagonist is going to face. So in Katniss's example, her larger goal is to defeat President Snow and overthrow the Capitol for good. That's not going to be resolved until the final book.

Speaker 1:

But the plot problems of those individual book, like in the first one, winning the Hunger Games and surviving it those smaller goals and conflicts need to be resolved on a book-by-book basis. Now I just said that without kind of closing the door on those individual book plot problems and those individual conflicts, readers are going to feel frustrated and they might give up on the series, right? The same is true if your series doesn't escalate the central conflict from book to book. So as an example of conflict that grows, escalates and complicates, I thought it would be fun to look at the Harry Potter series from the reader and Harry's perspective. So we did this from Voldemort's perspective already. Right, we talked about his development as an antagonist. But as I go through this example, I just want you to think about how the central conflict grows, escalates and complicates from book to book.

Speaker 1:

Okay, so in book one, harry Potter and the Sorcerer Stone, he's 11 years old. He knows zero magic. Right. In this book we said Voldemort tries to steal the Sorcerer Stone and Harry's trying to keep it safe. Harry does succeed, but because of all this he's on Voldemort's radar more than he was before. In book two we escalate and grow and complicate what happened in book one. So Harry's now 12, he has a little bit more magic under his belt. However, tom Riddle, which is Voldemort via the diary, has now opened a mysterious chamber underneath the school and he's been sending this giant snake to kill students. So Harry's goal here is to stop this from happening, which enrages Voldemort even more. It also kind of threatens all that safety and that family and that friendship that he found in book one. So the stakes have raised from book one to book two.

Speaker 1:

In book three, harry's being hunted by a man who supposedly betrayed his parents, and also dementors are patrolling the school grounds and one of his teachers is secretly a werewolf. So definitely upping those life and death, those dangerous stakes from book to book. In book four, harry participates in the very dangerous Tri-Wizard tournament where the tasks get more and more deadly as the tournament progresses. The Death Eaters are an even bigger presence in the world and, unbeknownst to Harry, one of his teachers is a death eater in disguise. By the end of this book, voldemort has succeeded in part of his plan, so he's regained his body and he's ready to take on the bigger wizarding world. So the stakes are majorly raised here, right? Voldemort before this didn't have a body. He didn't really have Death Eaters, you know a ton of them or anything like that. And now he's got both. He's got his body back, which means he's going to come into more power, and he's amassing this giant following of Death Eaters.

Speaker 1:

In book five, the Ministry of Magic, we know, doesn't believe Harry that Voldemort has returned, even though the Dementors are in the Muggle world and attacking humans, which is something they're definitely not supposed to be doing. And then Harry learns about a prophecy about him and Voldemort, and he must prevent Voldemort from retrieving it. So his goal gets harder and the stakes are raised, right. And in this book two, the character death count goes up and up. This is where Harry loses Sirius Black, one of his mentors. Slash his replacement father figure In book six.

Speaker 1:

We know that Voldemort has declared war, so Harry's only 16 at this point.

Speaker 1:

He's grieving the loss of Sirius Black. Dumbledore appears to be gravely injured, but we don't really know how or why. Draco Malfoy may or may not be a Death Eater, and now Snape is teaching defense against the dark arts. So a lot of stakes being raised here, a lot of conflict developing. The students are learning more dangerous magic in this book and the attacks are getting more and more personal. And the worst part is that Harry learns about Voldemort's horcruxes and Snape kills Dumbledore. So major development in terms of the conflict and the stakes in this book.

Speaker 1:

And then finally, by the end, we know Harry's no longer under the protection of the school and is officially on the hunt for Voldemort's horcruxes. We know that he's got Ron and Hermione with him, but he has lost his primary mentor, dumbledore. According to the prophecy that they retrieved in book five, either must die at the hand of the other, for neither can live while the other survives. So the stakes are definitely raised here and we see the ultimate confrontation between Harry and Voldemort in the series Climax. So hopefully, as I read through that, you could see how the conflict escalates. It gets harder for Harry to defeat Voldemort or go up against Voldemort. From book to book we see Voldemort actually have some wins in there. Right, he gets his body back, he comes back to full power, he takes away Harry's mentors and things like that. So the stakes are being raised, the conflict's increasing and things are just getting a lot more complicated.

Speaker 1:

So in this step I really want you to take what you've done in steps one through four and just kind of start mapping out where each book could maybe start and end. Again, you don't have to have all this perfect. Maybe in some books you don't know what the starting point is, but you know where the ending needs to go. For the series arc, things like that, it's okay. You're just kind of slotting things into where they go and then seeing how things develop, you know, with your genre framework and as you start writing book one and things like that. So let me just recap those five steps really quick and then I'm going to give you a bonus tip. So don't go anywhere.

Speaker 1:

Step one we said was to identify the theme of your series and of each individual book. Step two is to determine your series genre and the genre of each book. Step three is to map your character arcs across the series. Step four is to brainstorm your antagonists, or your antagonists, if you have more than one, throughout the series. And then, finally, step five was to start laying out the plot of your series and of each individual story. Now, again, we are not aiming for perfection here. We just kind of want to get your ideas down and start helping them take shape.

Speaker 1:

After this point, it's kind of natural to start thinking about your story world, right? So I always get questions about how to develop a world across your book series. And although this is not something you totally need to have figured out in the planning stage, it is something to be aware of, right? Because you want to make sure the world building is consistent across all your books and you want to build a world that plays into your story, so that plays into the themes and that impacts the central conflict and your protagonist's arc of change and all that stuff. And also, you know, just as your character needs to change, so can your story world.

Speaker 1:

I find that often it's the same. You know conflict, the same events that trigger things in your character or trigger that kind of internal change that also can start to trigger change in your world. So we talked about this a little bit in the Hunger Games example, remember you know the things that start to change Katniss. It also ripples out into the bigger world and causes the districts of Penham to rise up against the capital and Harry Potter, voldemort coming back to full power definitely spurs the world into action and once he's defeated, the world is left in a different place than it was before. So just something to keep in mind. At this stage you can start to kind of think about how your world or how you're setting the groups and the communities, the political systems, whatever it is, how those things start to change in your world as well.

Speaker 1:

And I really wanted to include this kind of as a bonus tip, because sometimes, when it comes down to growing, escalating and complicating the goals and the conflict from book to book in your series, sometimes you need to think in terms of expanding the story world or exploring. You know different parts of the world and different characters, so, for example, you might need to kind of expand where your character goes in the world, they might need to visit new countries, new territories or lands that were maybe previously mentioned, but we haven't been to those yet. An example of this is in the A Court of Thorns and Roses series. In the second book we see the main character, pharah. She goes to the night court. So you know that was mentioned in book one but we've never actually been there.

Speaker 1:

By visiting this new location, it broadens the world and causes conflict for the characters to face. Also, taking your protagonist farther away from home usually organically triggers new realizations about themselves and can often either aid or kind of halt progress along their series arc. So just I'm going to keep in mind and just something to think about. The other thing to think about is exploring different characters in different parts of the world. So sometimes, as we progress further through a series, there are different points of view introduced. I'm thinking of the books in the Lunar Chronicles. Right, we see different points of view in that series as the series progresses and things like that.

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So thinking about your story world definitely isn't one of the first five steps I would take, just because you know things like character and theme are probably more important in the planning stage. But you can still think about your story world and how it may undergo its own arc of change and how it can provide conflict for your series and for each individual books and things like that. So, as you can probably see from this episode, there is a lot that goes into planning a book series right, as I've said multiple times throughout the episode, I don't want you to expect to have everything figured out in one or two sittings. This is something that you're definitely going to need to start and then, you know, add to over time. So I really want you to know, going into the process, that it's totally normal to go through these steps once and then kind of start over and go back through them again, just to you know, continue to develop and add to your ideas. So you know, it's not just one or two times, it's probably a handful of times you're going to need to go through these steps. Totally normal, totally okay. But at least this will help you get your ideas out of your head and onto the page and hopefully get your series underway. So that's it for today's episode.

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As always, thank you so much for tuning in and for showing your support. If you want to check out any of the links I mentioned in this episode. You can find them in the show notes listed in the description of each episode, inside your podcast player or at savannahgilbocom forward slash podcast. If you're an Apple user, I'd really appreciate it if you took a few seconds to leave a rating and a review. Your ratings and reviews tell Apple that this is a podcast that's worth listening to and, in turn, your reviews will help this podcast get in front of more fiction writers just like you. And while you're there, go ahead and hit that follow button, because there's going to be another brand new episode next week, full of actionable tips, tools and strategies to help you become a better writer. So I'll see you next week and until then, happy writing.

Planning a Dynamic Book Series
Mapping Character Arcs and Antagonists
Understanding Antagonists in Book Series
Elevating Conflict in Series Writing