So we’re continuing our talk about writing multi-novel stories. Although I’ve been reminded that they needn’t be novels. These tips go for comics, too, like Jay Paulin’s work over at Ink’d Well Comics. Or my friend Steve Lake’s continuing series of Full Moon short stories.
Anyway, a second approach to a story that continues over several novels (or whatever) is to construct each issue as a complete story, each story being a part of the tapestry of the overarching story. No cliffhangers. Just strong, one-issue, related stories adding up to a bigger story.
I love this approach, and recommend it whole heartedly. It makes it so each novel is accessible for new readers but rewards long-time readers. Win-win. It’s also easier to get into reading these types of stories.
I used this method for a Black Womb storyarc we called “Peterson Syndrome,” which took place between books 4-7. Collectively, they tell the tale Julie Peterson and Xander Drew’s relationship, as well as the introduction and storyarc of Julie’s cousin Mandy Peterson. Each book has a complete story devoted to a phase of the relationship, and to the evolution Of the characters into their new roles after the hellish circumstances of the original Black Womb trilogy.
As I said, there were no cliffhangers. There were hints and teasers, but thats different. The closet I came to a cliffhanger was the end of Ignorance is Bliss, but even that wasn’t a hard cliffhanger. Just an ominous ending.
Another approach I adopted during this arc was to have multiple sub plots going in each book, integral to the overall plot of the arc but not that novel. In each novel I started at one storyline, I had the conclusion of another storyline involving other characters, and had the second act of yet another storyline. I would not have been able to do this without a great and eclectic group of characters. And not all plots received equal “page time.” Tommy’s plot has been burning over nine books.
And there’s nothing saying you can’t mix and match / combine methods.
To Be Continued…!
Never Look Back