One would think writing a series would be easy because the setting is in place and the protagonist established, but each book has its own plot and characters. Even the weather doesn’t change all that much in northern California where my Shakespeare in the Vineyard mystery series takes place. So all I have to do is create a new situation for Cait Pepper, my protagonist. Right? So I ask myself, what’s my problem?
There always has to be high stakes in each book that the readers can connect with and care about. When I started writing the second in the series, I thought I knew my characters well, but soon realized I couldn’t remember certain aspects. How old is Cait? Was her degree in English Lit? When did Cait realize that Royal Tanner meant more to her than just a handsome Navy SEAL? I keep a log on most of the characters, but it doesn’t include details about their thoughts, desires, and habits that only occur as the story unfolds.
How much should I repeat in case people didn’t start the series with the first book? Each one should be written as a stand alone, but it’s hard to phrase it without sounding repetitive. I can’t assume readers will have read the first book and are familiar with the setting and main characters. It’s up to me to provide readers with enough details to keep them interested and excited about the story without over burdening them with too much background.
By tying the first book to the second, etc., it’s important to open new questions in the readers mind that will get them eager to read the next, and the next in the series. If I’ve done my job well, they will be eagerly waiting to see what’s next for Cait and RT.