Posted on October 8, 2014

Three Types of Series - Which Type Are You Writing?

“If you write one story, it may be bad; if you write a hundred, you have the odds in your favor.” ~ Edgar Rice Burroughs            

Will your series have one main character throughout the books or a different main character for each book? How do you decide? Which type of series works best for romance? What if you’re not writing a straight romance but still have strong romantic elements?

Let’s look at the three types of series and then in our next lessons, we’ll discuss specific plotting techniques and how to add a romance plot or subplot to each.


Type One - Serials

The same main character is featured in each book, but each book can stand alone. Most mystery/suspense and action/adventure series fall into this category. While you learn more about the character as the series progresses, the stories themselves are mostly episodic.


A few examples:

Stephanie Plum (Janet Evanovich)

Tempe Brennan (Kathy Reichs)

Kay Scarpetta (Patricia Cornwall)

Spencer (Robert B. Parker)

Eve Dallas (Nora Roberts)

Sookie Stackhouse (Charlaine Harris)

Jaz Parks (Jennifer Rardin)

Harry Bosch (Michael Connolly)

Spencer, Jesse Stone & Sunny Randall (Robert B. Parker)


Type Two - Sequels

Sequels have a finite number of books where the plot is introduced in the first book and concludes with the last. Many fantasy and science fiction series fall into this category. While most of the individual books can be read as standalones, readers get more out of the story if they begin with the first book and follow the series in order.


A few examples:

Harry Potter (J.K. Rowling)

Lord of the Rings (Tolkein)

Mortal Instruments (Cassandra Claire)

Twilight (Stephanie Meyer)

Witches Anonymous (Misty Evans J)


Type Three - Spinoffs

Spinoffs take a minor character, setting or plotline from the original standalone and develop it. In many cases, the series characters are a specific team engaged in a heroic profession. Spinoffs, or ensemble series, work well for romance writers who need a fresh couple for each book’s romance. Each book is a standalone in the same world.


A few examples:

Troubleshooters (Suzanne Brockman)

Black Ops (Cindy Gerard)

Bullet Catchers (Roxanne St. Claire)

Black Dagger Brotherhood (J.R. Ward)

Lords of the Underworld (Gena Showalter)

Dream Hunter Novels (Sherrilyn Kenyon)

Rosatto and Associates (Lisa Scottoline)

Super Agent Series (Misty Evans J)

Scoundrals Series (Carrie Lofty)


Series Tip: One of my favorite resources to find series and sequels is the Los Angeles Public Library’s Index for Series and Sequels: . Type in an author and get a list of books in their series, including the main characters and special notes about location or other important facts. Also, try the interactive search through this library: