Types of Series: Open Series

Continuing the study of the different types of series so I can decide which one my new series falls into…

This post is about Open Series.

Open Series are defined as a type of series that can go on forever. Characters, location and/or long plot arcs will tie some, but not all, books together. For instance, Main Plot 1 might run through books 1-3. Main Plot 2 might appear in book 2 and run through book 6.

Each book in an Open Series will tend to be a stand-alone, complete within itself. Most questions raised during the course of the book will be solved. But, not necessarily all of the questions, for instance the main plots that run through multiple books before they are answered.

While there may be a common theme, characters, society, or locations that run through the series, helping to tie it together, there usually isn’t a main plot problem running through all of the books at equal strength. The Open Series allows an author to explore individual stories under a common idea umbrella.

Examples: Stephanie Plum by Janet EvanovichTypes of Series: Open Series, Nancy DrewTypes of Series: Open Series, The Hardy BoysTypes of Series: Open Series, Cat Who Series by Lilian Jackson BraunTypes of Series: Open Series, Aunt Dimity Series by Nancy AthertonTypes of Series: Open Series, Dragonriders of Pern Series by Anne MacCaffreyTypes of Series: Open Series.

Pros:

The series is more accessible to readers, who can jump in at any time.

The series can continue as long as the author wishes, and can usually be discontinued at any point.

Less initial planning for the series is usually required, as the books do not build to one last big climax.

Readers who like the series know they can come back time and again for more books with the same characters, which feel like ‘coming home.’

With each book, which are essentially stand-alones, the reader has a better chance of leaving the story feeling satisfied.

If the series hits really bit, the author can have guest or ghost writers help write the series with the help of a series bible. (think Star Trek or Star Wars)

Cons:

A reader can more easily jump ship at any book. This puts the pressure on the author to have each book standing bright and glorious on its own.

The character development usually advance much more slowly, but for some this might be a pro.

The series takes the chance of becoming old and stale before the author or publisher finally ends it.

Because the initial over-all planning is not as critical for an Open Series, organizing the series bible is a priority, or the author takes the chance of forgetting the simple things that tie the books together. This can mean subplots lost and left dangling or forgotten, or character/location descriptions and placements lost.
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“The E-Book Experiment” chronicles the business and creative side of an experiment with the business opportunities new technology and creative outlets now afford content producers. Will it fail? Will it succeed? The only way to know is to approach it with a solid plan and try. No regrets!

I hope the details of this journey will be a help to other authors. As the process proceeds to selling the final products I will also share hard data that might be useful in the decision making process of other authors who recognize that only they can take charge of their careers. For a listing of all the posts in this series, please click here.

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4 thoughts on “Types of Series: Open Series”

  1. This is the kind of series I’m writing. I like the freedom of being able to play in one world indefinitely. Plus I don’t have to keep doing new world-building, which is a big plus in paranormal/fantasy books. πŸ™‚

    • I think a lot of writers like series because of that. The worldbuilding has been done, all they need to do is go back into their sandbox to start playing. πŸ˜€

  2. My kind of series. Character driven and stand-alone. Already love the characters and all questions answered by the end of the book. πŸ™‚

  3. Minor nits .. you may want to break the open series down one more step: Single author vs Multiple author (or house names) The Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, Pheonix Force, Able Team are all series that were written by different people under one pen name.

    I’m not 100% sure I would include the Dragonriders since Anne did arrange for Thread to end. But I do see why you listed it, since it was open-ended for the longest time.

    BTW, Stephanie Plum Rocks!!! πŸ™‚

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