How To Write A Series

…from a Reader’s point of view. Ripley Patton’s Ghost Hold, volume 2 of the PSS Chronicles, publishes today. If you are interested in Young Adult Paranormal, this is a series to follow. I’m not a great fan of YA paranormal as a category, because I don’t read everything in ANY category. I read a great deal of genre fiction, but I read it because this is where the strong plots and great characters are, and this includes mysteries, science fiction both hard and soft, fantasy (high, low, and in the middle), and indeed, young adult.

A good series, speaking as a reader, has to have two characteristics: familiarity and novelty. When you read volume one, which in the PSS Chronicles is Ghost Hand, you meet the great character of Olivia Black. Olivia is a teenager and she is pitch-perfect as a teenager. She has issues, but she also has brains. As a reader you are rooting for Olivia from page one. She also has some strange paranormal abilities, which are fun to read about, and she has enemies, there are plots, and plots within plots, she meets a sexy strange guy, but she also fights with her mother. By the end of Ghost Hand you know Olivia very well–and you wish her well. You want to know what happens next.

In Ghost Hold, Olivia is back. The author hasn’t changed the point-of-view, so it’s as if you meet up with an old friend. Familiarity. All the important characters from volume 1 make an appearance: Marcus, Nose, Passion. They’re all on the road, planning to infiltrate that famous Den of Iniquity, a ritzy high school in Indiana. So Olivia, with her strange ability which she is still exploring, masquerades as a normal teenager and learns to play basketball. (Have I mentioned this series is very funny? It is.)

But Olivia is really trying to contact another teenager at the school and save her. Nothing quite goes to plan, there are yet more plots within plots, some of the same villains, and a few new ones. Olivia learns more about her friends, more about her special abilities, and the ending ratchets the series into new territory: much darker, more frightening, and…unresolved. So now the Reader is on the hook for volume 3.

This is how you write a series. I’ve never written a series, although I’m flirting with the idea of a follow-on book to The Bone Road in the distant future. J. K. Rowling said she had the plot for all seven of the Harry Potter books worked out in advance before she published the first one, and I assume Ripley Patton has the entire story arc for The PSS Chronicles locked in her personal vault. It’s obvious to me she knows where she is going, and the rest of us will simply have to wait and find out what happens. Go, Ripley, Go!