Writing a series is hard work. I knew that going in but decided to write one anyway probably because I’m a fool. One of the hardest things about writing a series is making sure the books are interconnected. That mostly has to do with plots and subplots and carrying those from one book to the next. But I’ve always believed that to make a true, lasting series, you have to plant seeds.
What I mean by planting seeds is that you have to put things in one book that will eventually be explained in another. They don’t have to necessarily be plot points. Odds are they will be but they could just be minor things that may seem unimportant. For my own meager example, in my first book, Catalyst, people kept wondering why is Hellsfire is named Hellsfire. I give a reason in Catalyst, but explain more in What Once Was One, and will do so again. There are also other things like Hellsfire’s father’s dagger, a guardian, a wizard’s robes, or it can even be a place mentioned such as the Netherrealms.
I like to think of those things like the proverbial gun on the mantle. People say that has to go off by the end of the book otherwise it’ll be a red herring, but I think when it comes to a series it doesn’t have to.
The way I picture series is one gigantic book much in the same way Lord of the Rings was one huge book. Because of that, I may not return to something I mention until a book or two or three down the line. It also drives my editor a little crazy.
The reason it drives her crazy is a valid one. I tend to not mention it until the time it becomes important again. That makes for bad writing. People aren’t going to remember what I do two or three books ago. Ergo, it’s best to drop in hints to remind people. While in my mind, it’s all relatively fresh and one continuous story, other people aren’t going to be involved with my work as I am, no matter how much they enjoy it.
I don’t think those little things or seeds, will necessarily be the thing people remember. But I do think that while they’re reading it, they’ll get a little sense of satisfaction when they say to themselves, “Aha! I KNEW that would come into play later!” I know I do.
And with a little luck, planning, and skill, one day that seed you plant, may grow into a tree.