Novels in a series are a road to success for an author. They are also an adventure that takes place in a world. You build that world detail by detail and scene by scene.
Your goal is to draw readers into the world you build and make them want to stay there through one book then the next and the next. To do this you must create a world that has reality and resonance.
At Liberty State Fiction Writers Conference I learned that you must also create a world that has Rules. Following these rules makes your world consistent and adds to its reality and resonance.
Conference panelists Caridad Pineiro and Elisabeth Staab and Stephanie Julian talked about rules and world building in the genre of paranormal romance. They also got me thinking.
They got me thinking about fiction world building in general. They got me thinking about how establishing rules applies to all series writing in all genres – and even to all storytelling.
To hook a reader you must master the art of immersion. You immerse your reader so completely in the story world you create that she is eager to remain there until you release her at The End.
Your reader will miss that world when she is forced to leave. She will be equally eager to return there again and again. Thus you have set the hook for a series as well.
One way to sabotage that good effort is to slip an inconsistency into the mix. An off-key note that disturbs the reader and awakens her from what John Gardner calls the dream of the book.
To prevent this you establish and follow the rules of your story or series world. Some of these rules you figure out in advance. Others arise as the story grows and reveals more of itself to you.
A bonus of this exercise is that it immerses you as author deeper and deeper into the world you are creating. From this deep place you are better able to bring your story to real and resonant life.
In this respect story rules are anything but limiting. They liberate your writer’s imagination into the flowing ocean of the story and its world. Like your reader you never want to leave.
Write a series and you don’t have to leave. You dive back into that immersing current with each new story you create. You have built a world where you can thrive all the way along your road to success.