Authors are an adaptable group. We write wherever we happen to be when inspiration hits, we change our personality to fit the character we are penning—an introverted author may become an extrovert through their writing, we write short stories and long tomes, and we pen stand-alone stories or plan out a series ranging from three to ten books or more. All writing presents challenges. For me, I encounter the most challenges when writing a series, such as the MacLarens of Fire Mountain.
Series creation requires the author to look toward the future and identify characters for books that may not be penned for months. The author builds a family or community where readers make a connection through the stories. Readers are encouraged to become a part of this community and get to know the inhabitants.
Most important, the author must create characters that readers like and want to follow over a long period of time. An author once told me that readers of romance inhale them like air—romance books aren’t a long-term commitment, but a short-term ‘story fix.’ This may or may not be true, but I do believe the opposite is true of romance books that are part of a series.
Characters in a series become a group of friends the reader relates to, commiserates with, and roots for. If written well, the reader is able to visualize them as a part of the community and not an outsider watching from afar.
The challenge for me is developing characters that are interesting, engaging, and project different personalities that complement the story and not detract from it. For book one, Tougher Than The Rest, I knew the oldest brother needed to have a stoic personality, a somber demeanor, and a no-nonsense approach to his responsibilities. He didn’t have the luxury of being anything else. The protagonist in book two, Faster Than The Rest, didn’t have the same accountabilities and could afford to be more of a rebel. Both characters appeal to me but in different ways, much like a family. At the same time, the women in their lives must fit into the family and not make the reader want to disengage from the series.
Even though I write both stand-alone books and ongoing series, in the end, I much prefer writing a series. Why? Because I get to become a part of the family and experience their heartbreaks, troubles, and triumphs. And isn’t that what romance is about?
I’d love to read your comments about the difference between stand-alone or series books, or which you prefer to read.