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A Common Theme
Many times authors don’t just write one book with the same characters and world–series, sequels, trilogies, quadrilogies and more are pretty common in a variety of genres. They’re often found in sci-fi and fantasy, and in the genre I write, romance. It’s also common in the mystery world, with multi-volume series that focus on one sleuth or detective. It’s this last example that brings me to what I want to talk about today:
The shared world series.
A “shared world” is usually written one of two major ways: either the main character or several major characters appear in every book, but the books only interconnect insofar as they take place in the same universe; or, every book has different characters but takes place in the same world with the same premise. Personally, I’m writing about this subject right now because I’m currently writing a shared world series. Mine is in the second format: every book has different characters, but they all have similar experiences in the same universe, revolving around the same premise. The first book in this series will come out this spring–I can’t wait!–but I’ve also written several more books in this series already.
Shared worlds, no matter how they’re written, have a few key components:
- The books can be read in any order and still make sense–they’re not dependent on each other the way sequels and trilogies are. It’s not a single story told across multiple books.
- The same characters or same premise/subjects appear in each book.
- The set-up of the universe generally has to be explained in every book, to make them stand-alone.
As I write this series, I’m finding the last point to be the most challenging. Even though by this time I know everything about the world I’m writing in, and it’s been presented in every book so far, I have to explain the key components over again in each book no matter how annoying it is for me. That’s because every book could be the first book the reader picks up. The hard part is that I have to do it without repeating myself to the point a reader reading EVERY book would feel like I’m just being repetitive, and do it in a creative way that makes it non-invasive and part of the story. I’m trying to do this by adding new details to the setup every time and varying things a little. Yes, it’s a challenge–but it’s fun!
I know a lot of readers enjoy a shared world series. It’s great to write too, because you get to explore new characters and stories but with an established background already in place. Do you read books like this? Do you write them? Let me know in the comments!