That sounds like a very newsy title, doesn’t it? Can you not imagine some newsboy shouting it on the street to the busy gentlemen and ladies hurrying to and fro? Well, no matter how it sounds, it’s accurate.
Due to my Thursday Three Hundred posts on my blog, I have a book which has just been released. This book, Delighting Mrs. Bennet, is the second in my Marrying Elizabeth Pride and Prejudice Variation Series and the ninth story which has begun it’s journey to many reader bookshelves as weekly posts on my blog.
Over the past four or so years, I have written and posted the following stories — seven books of various lengths, one short story, and a novelette:
- Hope at Dawn, A Sweet Regency Short Story (can currently be found as a bonus story at the end of And Then Love)
- And Then Love (Willow Hall Romance, book 1)
- The Tenant’s Guest (Willow Hall Romance, book 2)
- So Very Unexpected (Willow Hall Romance, book 3)
- At All Costs (Willow Hall Romance, book 4)
- With the Colonel’s Help, a Pride and Prejudice Variation
- Confounding Caroline (Marrying Elizabeth, book 1)
- Frosted Windowpanes, A Touches of Austen Novelette (Part of Nature’s Fury and Delights: Thunder, Mist, and Frost)
- Delighting Mrs. Bennet (Marrying Elizabeth, book 2)
You will notice when looking at this list of books that there are two series listed — Willow Hall Romance and Marrying Elizabeth. These are not the only series of books which I have written or am writing, but to date, they are the only ones which have been posted on my blog. (That’s about to change — there’s a second story post day in the works which will also be part of a series of books.)
And that’s what I wanted to talk to you about very briefly today — three types of series. The information I am using to write this is coming from notes that I took at a Romance Writers of Atlantic Canada workshop, which was presented by award-winning historical author, Deborah Hale.
Series Type One — The Continuing Character Series
Let’s take a favourite from my childhood as our example here to help explain this sort of series. I loved Nancy Drew books. Each book starred Nancy Drew. She was the central character in them all, but each book was a different complete story. One book did not build upon another. You could read them in any order you wished. However, there were sometimes references to other mysteries the central character and her friends had previously solved.
Although there may be references to past books and the stories might be sequential (Nancy Drew stories were numbered), this sort of series tends to be very episodic in nature. There is no series arc, meaning the plots in each book are self-contained. There may be change or growth for the main character or that function might be filled by a secondary character.
Series Type Two — Connected Characters Series
Many romances and women’s fiction books would likely fall into this category. The main characters in each book of the series change, but characters from past and future books in the series often appear in the current story. There may or may not be a story arc that weaves through each of the books in this sort of series.
If you have read my Willow Hall Romance Series, then you have read a series like this. In each of the Willow Hall books, the main couple changes. Let’s tease that out a bit to see how this series fits in this category.
The series begins with And Then Love, which is Philip and Lucy’s story. Lucy and Philip, as well as several other characters in this story, will appear in each of the subsequent books, but they will never again be the main characters. However, Darcy, who is a secondary character in And Then Love, will become the main character in book two, The Tenant’s Guest. Each book in this series contains a complete story arc for the main couple.
- In book one, Lucy and Philip go from becoming engaged for convenience sake to being very much in love and happily married.
- In book two, Darcy and Elizabeth have a second chance and finish their story engaged.
- In book three, Marcus and Lydia go from meeting each other to loving each other and engaged.
- In book four, Bingley and Jane, as well as Colonel Fitzwilliam and Mary Ellen, follow a bit of a bumpy path to their happily ever afters.
However, while each couple’s story arc is complete in each book, there is a series arc for one not so nice character named Wickham that begins in book one and ends in book four. This arc, as well as the shared history of the various main characters, is what ties the series together.
Series Type Three — Multi-Volume Larger Story Series
This type of series has a larger story (series arc) that opens in the first book and is not resolved until the last book. Each book within the series will contain a complete plot for that book, but it is also a sub-plot of the larger story. Another way of saying it is that these books are stories within a story. Sometimes the individual books in this sort of series will end with a cliffhanger that leads into the next book. Sometimes these stories will focus on a single character but often, they will move between different characters as they work toward the conclusion of the series arc. Famous series that would fall under this category would be Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter.
My Marrying Elizabeth Series does not fit as neatly into one of these three categories as I would like so that I can say it is definitely this sort of series. Let me explain and then you can decide for yourself.
In this series, there is a central continuing character, Darcy. This makes it a bit like the first type of series we discussed. However, the stories in this series cannot be read in any order. They need to be read sequentially. This makes it more like the second type when it has a series arc or the third type which always has a series arc.
Where it breaks with the second type is that the main character in each story does not change. Darcy is the main character. Everything that happens in each book will focus on some sort of growth or change in Darcy and/or will have Darcy attempting to help different side characters reach some goal.
Where this series breaks with the third type of series is that while each story in the series is a complete story within a larger story, this series doesn’t seem to have a definite ending point. This is likely because it is still a work in progress.
When I embarked on this project, I had thought that Darcy and Elizabeth getting married in book three would be the end of the series because often that is where a romance story ends — the beginning of happily ever after. However, as I am writing Loving Lydia, it seems Darcy will not be done helping his family in book three and will likely continue to stretch himself and discover things and grow into at least the first year of his marriage.
So then, is my Marrying Elizabeth Series, which I began thinking would be a Series Type Three series, actually more of a Series Type Two series since the characters assisted in each book changes? Or is it more of a Series Type One series because the central character is embarking on a new adventure in each story? Hmmm… Do you see how classifying some series can be difficult and might change depending on who is analyzing them and with what criteria?
Obviously, these three series types are not finite. It seems that there can be combinations and variations of each, but having a working knowledge of how various series might be classified can be helpful both when writing and reading a series.
Based on what you know right now, into which category would you say Marrying Elizabeth fits best? Let me know in the comments.
Would you like to follow along while this series continues to be written? You can do that on my blog as I am currently posting book three entitled Loving Lydia, a story in which Darcy will help Richard and Lydia (yes, you read that correctly 😉 ) find a happily ever after while discovering more about how he fits into Elizabeth’s family. Chapters one and two are already posted, and chapter three will post this Thursday. You can find those post in the Thursday’s Three Hundred section of my blog at this link.
Both Confounding Caroline and Delighting Mrs. Bennet can be found at your favourite ebook retailer as well as in paperback form on Amazon.