There are many decision to make when one sits down and begins to write a series, one of the most crucial decisions is who should be the characters. It is important to write a character(s) you believe the reader will find worthy of investing their time in. Reading a series is a commitment, your character must be someone your reader can relate to or route for. That’s not to say that the protagonist must be good and virtuous. Both Hannibal Lecter and Dexter Morgan were main characters in popular fiction series and they were fastidious serial killers. And whether you read them or not, there is no denying that many a vampire has had novels written about them. And don’t get me started on the living dead.
Besides the main character(s) the writer must decide if there are secondary characters who will also appear in the series and how they will relate to the main character. It is up to the writer whether those characters will be family members, co-workers, friends or a full out nemesis for the character. Although there are popular series where no one but the main character reappears in the second novel, they are rare.
In my RACHEL SHORTE series, her assistant and a New Grace police detective are continuing characters who have a large presence in RACHEL’S life. She also has a family whose contribute, good and bad, to her life and their presence in the novels varies from story to story. Although the character itself my changes there is always a client for her to represent in one ordeal, or several.
In my REESE MILLRIDGE series the reader follows the life of four main characters. Each of these characters appear in all the stories and are represented fairly equally throughout the series. Since there are so many main characters there is no real need for in depth reoccurring secondary characters. However, there are a few characters who pop up in each book.
Unlike a stand alone novel the writer must decide how the character will evolve during the course of the series. Character development is very important to a story and even more so with a series. The character needs to change a little in each book while still keeping to the main core of their personality. Without growth the character will become stagnate and the reader will loose interest in them. For RACHEL SHORTE that meant deciding what changes will occur in her personal and professional life as the series unfolds and where I intend for her to end up when the series conclude. The MILLRIDGES series is more complicated. As there are four main characters, all mingled together, I had to outline how the eleven individual relationships will evolve over the course of all the books. Keeping track of all of that requires its own folder.
Many writers end a series by killing off their main character. It is a quick effective way of saying ‘the end’. But, is dead really dead? Remember Arthur Conan Doyle killed off Sherlock Holmes in THE FINAL PROBLEM, only to find him resurrected eight years later in THE HOUNDS OF THE BASKERVILLES.