About a year ago, my friend Paul Shortt released his first novel, Locked Within. I participated in his blog tour then, and this year I have the pleasure of doing the same for Locked Within's sequel, Silent Oath. Today I have Paul here to talk about his experience with writing a series.
The Challenges of Writing a Series
As I’ve said before on this tour, I’d much rather read a
series than a standalone novel. There’s so much scope for varied
storylines and character development, that I always find I connect
more with characters once I know there’s more to read ahead.
Of course, writing a series presents its own challenges.
The obvious challenge is working out a story for your sequel. It’s
got to be different from the first, but not so out of left field that
it no longer feels like it belongs in the series. But in getting
through this stage, you soon realise that figuring out a plot was the
easiest part of the whole process.
You see, it’s not enough to just come up with a halfway decent
plotline. You also want to work out how your characters grow and
develop. How their world has changed due to their actions in the
previous book. How the events of the new book will set up events for
Unless you’re writing a series of standalone novels that just
feature the same characters, like a mystery writer may do at times,
you’re better off considering the series itself as a single story.
That way, you can be sure that the series will retain a cohesive arc,
and the characters can all grow together naturally.
Of course, sometimes you don’t expect to continue a story past
one book. Or, like me, you end up re-writing the next book in such a
way that you completely overhaul your previous ideas. In these
instances, you need to go back to the previous book(s) and really
look at the theme and tone, to see what can carry over most
naturally. That’s the key, you see. Making sure each installment
flows naturally from the last.
The Locked Within Trilogy started out life as a planned 6-book
series. I’m not sure why I figured 6 books was the ideal length. I
wanted a long series, but I was afraid of the books running on and
losing steam. So I put an arbitrary cap on how long I would allow the
series to become. In the end, however, I change it to a much more
Which brings me to the next problem often faced when writing a
series. Exactly how much do you think you can say about these
characters? If you commit to 5 books, but really you can only come up
with 2 or 3 books’ worth of story and character development, you
will damage your work by trying to stretch it further. Many authors
would love to make it big writing the next super-popular series,
releasing a dozen books and looking forward to offers of movie or tv
However in an awful lot of cases, we see readers become jaded as a
series drags on, or get so emotionally invested that no ending the
writer comes up with will satisfy them. The old saying still applies.
Kill your darlings, even if that darling is an entire book. I did it,
and I am so grateful to my publisher for it, because I know that this
trilogy is far stronger than it would have been if I’d stuck to my
Thanks, Paul! I know a lot of people (myself included) who are
writing, or thinking of writing, a series. I'm sure we all appreciate
the great comments!
If you would like to pick up Silent Oath for yourself, you can do
About the book
Hope has returned to New York City. Nathan Shepherd leads a small
band of dedicated fighters against the Council of Chains and the
city's supernatural masters. But it's not enough. Because from the
shadows of Nathan's former lives comes an old enemy, one who knows
terrible secrets that Nathan has not yet remembered, secrets that
could undo everything he has fought for.
Nathan's only chance to uncover the memories of his previous
existence, and to conquer these new forces of evil, lies in Elena
DeSantis. A woman he has fought beside in past lifetimes. A woman he
Together, Nathan and Elena are the only future the city has.
A child at heart who turned to writing and roleplaying games when
there simply weren't enough action figures to play out the stories he
wanted, Paul Anthony Shortt has been writing all his life. Growing up
surrounded by music, film and theatre gave him a deep love of all
forms of storytelling, each teaching him something new he could use.
When not playing with the people in his head, he enjoys cooking and
regular meet-ups with his gaming group.
Paul lives in Ireland with his wife Jen and their dogs, Pepper and
Jasper. Their first child, Conor William Henry Shortt, was born on
July 11th, 2011. He passed away three days later, but brought love
and joy into their lives and those of their friends. The following
year, Jen gave birth to twins, Amy and Erica, and is now expecting
their fourth child.
Paul's first novel, Locked Within, was released on November
6th, 2012, by WiDo Publishing. Silent Oath is the second
book in this urban fantasy trilogy.
You can connect with Paul on Facebook and Twitter: @PAShortt