On Plotting a Sequel/Series


Hi community of awesome, I’m Ava Jae and this is bookishpixie. So requested vlog: you guys have asked if
I could do a vlog on how to write a series, so I’m going to share how I’ve done it. I do want to emphasize that there isn’t a
one, singular, correct way to plot a series, this is just how I’ve done it and may or may not work for you but this is one method. So. How I’ve plotted a series. In BEYOND THE RED’s case, I first just plotted out and wrote BEYOND THE RED singularly. While I did have some vague ideas about what I wanted to do in future books, and specifically how I wanted to end the series and that I
knew I wanted it to be a trilogy, I also knew that at the time as I was an unagented and unpublished writer, it was a lot harder for me to sell the idea of a series both to an
agent and to a publisher immediately, so I knew that chances were likely I’d have to
stick with BEYOND THE RED as a standalone at first, and then hope that it could expand into a series. Ultimately that is what happened to me, BEYOND THE RED sold as a standalone, and my editor knew that I was interested in expanding that, but we needed to see how BEYOND THE RED would do first before they were able to consider
future books. So yeah, I plotted out BEYOND THE RED and then I also kept a running document of vague ideas for the sequels. I think this was a Susan Dennard tip where as you get ideas you just kind of keep it all in one document so that later on you can go back and refer to it, and that’s basically what I did. But for a long time most of my plotting was just happening in my head. I was thinking about other possibilities,
I was thinking about other characters, I was thinking about what I wanted to do, and I
just kind of let it sit in my head for a long time, without putting it to paper until I
finally got the go ahead to get an outline going. So by the time the time came to actually outline the next book, I had a lot of ideas already floating around in my head, and on the document, that I was able to put all together in this new document, and then just fill in the blanks. I will say that in the future I will probably
plot out the second book if I’m just pitching the one book so I have it ready and I have
it so that I could pitch it, you know, immediately if I wanted to and that way I wouldn’t have
to scramble last minute to try to throw everything together and get it done in time. So that’s actually a lesson I learned. I’m not saying that my method of just kind
of keeping it in my head in a few written down things in that document was bad—it
actually did work for me—but I think in the future I’d like to be a little more organized so I have something concrete and if I need to whip it out last second, I can. Two important things you want to remember when you’re working on a sequel: you first want to pick up where the previous book left off,
and you want to summarize just a little. By “a little” I mean you wanna summarize
enough that if a reader picked up your book mid-series they wouldn’t be utterly confused, and also if your readers have forgotten what happened in the previous book, you wanna include enough information to jog their memories for the important things, but not so much that they’re bored because you’re just recapping. It’s a fine balance to hit and to get there
you often need to work with both people who have read your book and people who haven’t so that you can kind of toe the line between too much information and too little, but it’s an important balance to hit. Another important thing to remember is every book should be a complete book, so cliffhangers are okay for example, but only if you have
an entire plot completed in that book and you’re not leaving off, like, mid-climax. Character development is also really essential. The series that have stuck the most with me have been ones where the characters developed a ton from the first book to the last in a
way that made sense for their character. Another important thing to remember when you’re working on a series is to continue to expand the world that you’ve created and continue to develop the rules that you established in the first book without breaking those rules. By the time your readers are done finishing your series, the first book that they read should have a world that feels small compared to the large world that you’ve expanded in the last book. So that’s what I’ve got for today! If you liked what you saw, don’t forget to
subscribe and comment, and I’ll see you guys next week!

27 Replies to “On Plotting a Sequel/Series

  1. Great video! However, I am still stuck with my first one. I have seen the video in which you shared great suggestions on plotting the first book, but here is the question that I still need to know. So one has the idea, outlining, characters and plot decided BUT how to improve actual writing as it plays a major role in engaging readers to the book? How does one develop a creative style of writing that is not only descriptive but also engaging? One of the common answers I receive and also often give to others is to read because writers naturally adopt that skill after reading. But what is the thing other than that? And I am certain that there is such thing but I feel I haven't figured it out yet. Thank you for reading! 🙂

  2. Question, in a query should I mention when I want to end a series? Like for example just briefly mention " it would be 2 books at most"?

  3. Great vlog! I have an idea for a Sci-Fi trilogy, and I've already finished around 1/3 of the first novel, and it's looking alright so far. One big part of it, is that humanity essentially doesn't exist, and the books focuses on 2 different Alien civilizations, one Space Age, the other Medieval.

  4. good advice! And its good to hear other people's lessons. especially for those who can relate and might be able to avoid problems.

  5. How did you know this was what I wanted to know about next? I seriously just figured out my next book wants to be at least a trilogy or maybe a fourlogy. And now I have ideas! Thank you, Ava Jae, for reading my mind and not being so scarred that you couldn't make this handy video.

  6. Its good you said at the beginning that there's no particular way for anybody to write a series (especially as an unpublished author), though the tip about getting better at planning in general is probably the best writing advice I've heard from anybody. Even when you get heck tonnes of handwriting down, you can also get to the transcribing stage, and you end up leaving lots out, while throwing in heaps of other junk. I've noticed now when I'm drafting my 7th 8th, 9th, and 10th unrelated stories, that the planning is everything. For when you come round to line editing, the books flow much better, and you notice the grammar works better than you could have ever done even a year ago. I'm not sure if it's got to do with just writing more, or if it's got to do with getting better at wrapping up stories. If so then I'm a failure at this, as I started doing a series 3 years ago, did 120k for the first book, then 50k for the second book the following year. Now I want to make the 'second book' into three 50k parts, and just smash em together at the end. But keep doing the videos, I know you ain't going to stop anytime soon, but you always make me laugh because you have to be the only channel on youtube with a decent following that doesn't get a single dislike. That is the greatest achievement on this website, and I hope you know it.

  7. My series is currently 7 books, and they're all about different characters, though old MCs show up sometimes.

  8. I enjoyed this video!! Though it leads me to this question: you were mentioning that it's more difficult to get a literary agent through submitting a series if you have no previous published works. Does this imply that your first manuscript submission to an agent shouldn't be part of a series? Or should you just make sure that book 1 has a solid ending so you can pitch it as "series potential"? Thanks!

  9. how do you title your books/ series? i am trying to write a series but i cannot for the life of me think of a good title.

  10. Thanks for your video! It was really helpful. But still, I have a question. How much should you consider leaving behind for the books to come in the series? How much information should you pour in your first book of the series?

  11. I've got seven books in a series so far. Aiming 4 ten. Boo-ya baby!

    (Am I tooting my own horn here? lol

  12. What if I am planned for a series and I wrote thefirst one and currently I am writing the second but don't know how to publish it in my country Egypt they refuse publishing trilogy what should I do?

  13. I have a trilogy planned, but recently I want to write a book about how the parents of the main character of the trilogy met and how he came to be born and in the situation he ends up in during the trilogy, would it be best to start off with the prequel as a stand alone as it would only be one book and the try to get the main series published?

  14. I want to write a sequel so much! I'm afraid I won't even publish book one, but so far I sent it to some beta readers and publishers and they think it's great, so I'll start writing rough outline drafts and book drafts for book 2 otherwise Ill be bored out of my mind. We writers can't stop now can we?

  15. Gabe, Thank you for this. I am in the process of co-writing a series and this has been extremely helpful. I also have two questions. Would you ever be interested in writing a sequel or prequel series to Beyond the Red as was done with Star Wars? After creating on science fiction world are you interested in creating another science fiction world for a new series?

  16. I would like to recommend the film 3 Generations to you. It was released in different parts of the world under other titles.

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