Writing A Series – Bringing in the past without wrecking the story that came before.

Tricky! One of the issues with writing a series is keeping the relevant information flowing without upsetting past storylines, various surprises and/or spoiling the climaxes that have come in the books before – It probably doesn’t much matter for those readers following the series in sequence, but what about those who choose not to read the books in order?

This is where it really becomes vital that each book truly stands alone.

I didn’t think about any of this when that first concept of a book expanded into a series. One book. Many books. Sounded great (it is great). I did realize early on that I didn’t want to produce a serial where a story just goes on and on with no ending. Fortunately, there is no problem giving each book of the series its own story, lead characters, plot and climax. Keeping the ties in place however, from one book to the next, takes a little fancy penmanship.

I don’t use prologues or epilogues. As a reader, I don’t mind a prologue and an epilogue always feels like something extra – I just don’t use them. Nor do I want to stop the story to explain anything. The line and flow has to remain strong and gripping.


That means reintroducing characters and/or past events as though they were new without overdoing it. Readers might well learn that the Good Guys won in whatever that book was, but new-to-the-series-and-not-in-order readers don’t want to learn how. Ideally, they’ll want to go and find out how by reading that book!

So – new stories with aspects from the past, and that means there’s a fine balance to be found. Weaving in the past without over-telling it is and will always be important when writing a series.

Do you enjoy reading a series? Do you write one? How do you cope with past issues in your books?

Cheers, all!



8 thoughts on “Writing A Series – Bringing in the past without wrecking the story that came before.

  1. EagleAye

    I end up reading series often. I don’t seek them out, It just seems to work out that way. One of my favorites is the Honor Harrington series of space operas by David Weber. Each stands alone just fine, but they are more fun if read in order. Weber often gives references to what happened in the previous book and that seems to tie them together nicely.

    1. A.D. Everard Post author

      I do love a good series and I agree, you do get more out of them if read in order. And yes, references to things that have happened in past books are essential to tie it all together and make a whole. The trick is not to overdo it and give away endings. My favourite series is the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett. Not only is his humor good, his characterization is amazing.

      1. EagleAye

        Definitely. Pratchett is one of my favorites, and he’s a genius if you ask me. His books do stand alone very well. The footnotes are some of my favorite parts of his books.

  2. writingsprint

    Last night an angel came and tapped me on the shoulder. I may have a series to write. I slept on it and it’s still here, so I’m going to turn over some ideas in my head.

      1. writingsprint

        Basically, Risha’s story could have three chapters. The one I’m working on would be the last one. I would have to create a different setting from Star Wars, which could be fun in itself.


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