Judging Ongoing Series: What Works And What Doesn’t
Writing an ongoing series can be extremely difficult, because series come with baggage. There are so many details to keep straight! I’ve chatted with authors who use different methods to make sure all their facts line up, from intensive documents, to color coded binders and even using fact checker beta readers. But the truth is that it’s about more than making sure that your secondary characters from book two shows up in book seven with the right color eyes. It’s a challenge to keep a series installments appealing for longtime fans and accessible to new readers. It’s a balancing act and one that is incredibly tough to master. Recently I’ve read several stories that are part of much larger series, and found some elements that really worked well — and some that did not. Today I break down three new stories in running series so that you can judge for yourself.
The Outsiders series by Rebecca Royce
Down And Dirty Series Summary: The “Outsiders” in the series are several couples with magical powers that must find and anchor each other so that they can successfully save the world from an evil demon.
Current Release: The fourth story in the Outsiders series, “Love Beyond Sight”, features vulnerable foreseer Eden Roan. She is in desperate need of protection, but her anchor, Samuel Quinn, cannot go to her because of his physical deformities. But when danger comes calling, Samuel overcomes his difficult issues in order to fight for the lovely Eden.
What Works: The author has a terrific writing style that allows readers to feel what her characters are feeling. While the plot may be confusing at points, the prose is smooth and showcases Royce’s skills as a wordsmith.
What Doesn’t: With the fourth story in The Outsiders series, readers are literally dropped into an alternate world without a roadmap. There are so many characters that newcomers’ heads will swim as they desperately try to figure out which hero goes with which heroine.
Roxie’s Protectors series by Marisa Chenery
Down And Dirty Series Summary: Roxie has some serious mystical talents that need protecting, enter her mate, Beowulf, and his den of shapeshifting werewolves who take in the fragile human as their family.
Current Release: “Kye’s Heart” is the fifth story in the series has the hunky shapeshifter Kye acting as a babysitter. But this turns out not to be a bad thing, when his new duties have him visiting a zoo where he meets his mate, Michaela. However, Michaela has no supernatural powers herself, so it is uncertain if she will be woman enough to enter Kye’s dangerous world.
What Works: Even though this is the fifth book in the Roxie’s Protectors series, the author does not give gratuitous back story. In fact, Chenery is downright stingy with the deeds on the other characters. This works well, keeping the spotlight right where it should be — on hero Kye and his lady Michaela.
What Doesn’t: The story’s narrative takes place over the course of just a few days, in just over 50 pages. The result is that the author has to do some seriously fast work to get Kye and Michaela together quickly. Unfortunately, the speed at which this relationship forms is simply too unbelievable for this reader.
The Snatcher series by Miranda Stowe
Down And Dirty Series Summary: A serial killer has been snatching women in Miners Bend and torturing them to death. Without a clue to who the perpetrator is, the small town is literally tearing itself apart to find the madman who is going after young women.
Current Release: Third in The Snatcher series, “Framed as a Killer”, features Court Lawson, the local loner, whose bad reputation has only gotten worse after he tried to drug The Snatcher’s only surviving victim. However, Paige Bromin is convinced that her crush is not the killer and risks her own life to help Court clear his name.
What Works: The author is able to end “Framed as a Killer” with a satisfying conclusion, while still leaving enough loose ends to keep the series going strong for the next story. No easy feat!
What Doesn’t: The author takes her erotic, romantic suspense series in a whole new direction by giving her latest hero the ability to read minds. While certain authors are able to enhance series by adding a paranormal touch, Stowe seems out of her element and her character's ability takes away from the main thrust of the story.
Are you willing to dive into a series in on the second, fourth or sixth story? Are there particular elements that you look for when you’re weighing if you’ll keep reading? Let me know in the comments below. And for more genre news and recent reviews, be sure to check out RT’s Everything Erotica Page!