Writing Tips for Ending a Series and Moving On
Seven years ago I started writing a book. It was a book that nagged me so much I couldn’t stop trying to write it. I say trying because I had to learn over time how to tell the story I wanted to tell. Hence why it took me so long to finish it. I don’t know how many versions of this book I wrote over the years, and honestly I don’t really want to know. Countless thousands of words were discarded throughout the process. I really wanted to set the book aside and try something easier, but I couldn’t. I hung with it, and I’m glad I did.
I published it as The Hunted One in January, and it was the first book in a planned trilogy called the End of Days.
It was a great accomplishment to finish it and publish it, but I knew the story wasn’t done. I didn’t feel a sense of pride or accomplishment when I saw it live on Amazon. I didn’t get teary-eyed when I held the first proof of my book. None of that happened. And it made me wonder if something was wrong with me.
Well last Monday I published the final book in the series. And all that emotion I didn’t feel with the first book, hit me with this last book. It was overwhelming. I cried as I wrote it. I cried when I thought about it. I genuinely got super excited when the proof came in the mail. This was it, I thought. Three books later, this was the sense of pride I was finally letting myself feel. Because now the story was complete. This was the story I’d tried so hard to tell all those years ago.
It made me feel good to know I’d accomplished my vision for the books. But as I started wading into a new series and a standalone side project, I realized I’d give anything to be back writing those books. They’d become easy and safe. I knew the characters. I knew the goal. I understood my vision. But that’s what happens when you spend seven years with one series. It makes moving on really hard.
Some books become like home. Whether writing or reading them. I can re-read certain books and felt this warm, fuzzy sensation overcome me. They are comforting. That’s what writing the End of Days series had become for me. It’s sad to let that go and move on to these new confusing characters.
Here are some of my writing tips for moving on to a new series:
- Do you feel satisfied with your previous series? Did you accomplish your vision? These can be pretty tough questions to think about. If you’re not satisfied is it something that can be fixed with another book?
- Start thinking about the new series early on. Get comfortable with the new characters. Play around with some scenes before you actually start writing the new books. It can be a good metal break, but it’ll also let you start discovering the new set of voices.
- Outline like crazy. Maybe you could fly by the seat of your pants with your old series. But you don’t know this new group of characters well enough to let them guide you. Just take some time and figure out a path. You can always change it once you start writing, but get the big things figured out first.
- Realize it doesn’t have to be perfect the first time. You might need more editing time on the first book to get all the voices or character motivations consistent, but you don’t need to ace them all on the first draft.
- This is a cheating tip, but I did it with my series. Leave one smaller character up in the air. Don’t finish his story completely. It gives you the chance to go back and revisit the characters you love so much.