I am a series girl, through and through. I love series and the chance to really understand characters. The downside of being a series writer is that it can be hard to plot out a whole series.
Trust me, I’m in this boat right now. Right now, my book series (The Cassie Morgan Series – yes, I’m lame when it comes to series names, and yes, I did change her last name) is probably going to be about ten books. The nice thing about indie publishing is that if I feel like the series won’t be that long, I can end it, if I want it to be longer, I can keep going.
Either way, plotting series can be hard, but thankfully, there’s something you can use as a resource for plotting that series: TV shows.
Think about it, TV shows are basically book series being played out on TV. TV shows may even inspire you, and you may find that you pick up bits and pieces of the show and see them show up in your series. A few weeks ago, I had a big realization while watching my favorite TV show, Castle.
As a quick synopsis of an eight-season show, Castle is about a writer (Rick Castle) and a cop (Kate Beckett). They solve murders together, and Castle has a thing for Beckett (post update – Castle was canceled after season eight, and you can read about my take on the downfall of Castle and the lessons to be learned here).
Looking a bit deeper, one of the overarching story themes of the show is the murder of Beckett’s mother, which was originally labeled as an assault gone wrong. Over the show’s history, Castle encourages Beckett to take another look at her mother’s murder, and we learn that Beckett has struggled to not let that consume her. She put her mother’s murder behind her because if she kept digging, she knew she would never be able to live her life.TV shows can be great study guides to pacing a book series. Click To Tweet
This story with her mother’s murder is a story that has taken eight seasons to evolve and develop, which is a great example of sprinkling details throughout a series. In my book series, Cassie is a foster child who doesn’t know what happened to her parents (she knows her mom died, but that’s it). Later in the series, there are events that’ll happen to send Cassie on this journey to discover more about her mom.
Overarching themes in a series like this help tie the books (or TV shows) together and bring a sense of unity. Another one: The Blacklist. The Blacklist is about working with an FBI agent working with a criminal to bring down other criminals. It’s a very loose idea, but it’s one that shows up in my book series, too.
This isn’t a post saying you should steal from TV shows, don’t do that. This is a post about how you can identify similar themes through your series and TV shows (there will never be an original idea, that’s just the way the world goes around), and how you can see the pacing in these shows to help plot your novel.
With large storylines, don’t devote a whole book to just that big storyline, unless it’s the end and you’re wrapping it up, but some of the best overarching ideas make little appearances throughout each book.
The next time you’re watching your favorite TV show, take some time and think about the series overall and if it has any similarities to your book. TV shows (especially longer ones) can be great study guides for pacing that book series.