This week I embarked on the journey of turning my stand-along fantasy into a series after I realised that it was WAY to big for one book. I had to think not only about where I should split it but on the ways in which this can be done well. I searched the internet for help on the subject but I really did not get anywhere. So I have come up with this post with my own tricks and list of things to know if you want to split up your book.
Reasons Why You May Need to Split Up Your Book
- You have to much information to fit in just one book.
- Proper world building is difficult to achieve.
- Proper characterisation is hard to do.
- It may get boring if you are bombarding people with information and plot.
- If it is too full of action, there won't be moments of reprieve for your characters or readers. There needs to be a constant flux of fast and slow in the action.
- The feeling of time and pace would feel like it is going to quickly.
- The story will feel unrealistic.
If this sounds all to familiar, then it is time to consider whether you need to break your book apart. I warn you now, it will be difficult and will take some work but your novel will be all the better for it in the end and your characters more memorable.
Here is what has helped me not only split my book in half, but to four books:
- Plan out the whole story
- Group phases of the story together
For instance, my villain has a plan which has four phases- the first book reveals two and the second reveals the rest.
- Each book has to have one goal
From my analysis of book series, the author creates for each book one main obstacle to overcome and their is always something personal which needs to be achieved (two very different things). Each of these obstacles must lead the reader and the character to the ultimate ending. Along side the main goal of each book things need to happen in the background and around the main characters to create ties to the next book. This can be assisted with a sub plot and with minor characters. For instance, my characters will go on their quest to stop the villain in the first phase of his plan and succeed (so far as they are aware) while the other characters in the book, make discoveries and lay out issues dealing with the main characters in the next novel.
- Don't give the reader everything
If you are looking for a prime example of how book series writing is done I would highly recommend the Throne of Glass collection.
- The stakes must get higher with every book
- Examine your characters backstories
As mentioned above, I decided to split it by phases of the villain's plan. Doing this will also help the plot to be more character driven and less contrived.
- End at a climax but leave some things unanswered
This is the most obvious point, but it needs to be reiterated. There is nothing wrong with cliffhangers, but you need to have revealed and achieve something. Also of note, endings don't have to be happy and sometimes the best endings do not. So do what feels right, and not simply to shock.
- Foreshadowing is your best friend
You should be doing a lot of this, but in a strategic way. A small sentence could linger in someones mind weeks after they have finished the book. It also adds to the feel of your book and the tone of the setting. It intrigues people and is (in my opinion) the best writing tool.
Tools To Help You Figure Out Your New Plot Layout
Good Books To Read As Examples
I hope this helps you figure out how to create your amazing series of books! Good luck with it!