Oh my goodness, author, Sandy Barker, has written me a fabulous guest blog post below.
Sandy writes gorgeous and funny romances set in far away places. Her heroines go on wonderful journeys of self discovery and experience heartwarming romances. She’s published by Harper Collins and her debut novel plus her latest book in the same series are below.
I have added links to the book covers below so just click on them to find out more. Please read her post first!
So, let me hand over to Sandy Barker.
Here are the 5 things I think every romance series needs
Lovable and relatable main characters
This may seem a little obvious―shouldn’t all main characters in a romance be lovable and relatable? Yes, absolutely, but even more so in a series, because the reader will be spending lots more time with them than in a stand-alone.
TIP: Think about your closest friends (yes, even the ones who sometimes drive you around the bend) and ask yourself why you love them. Those are the traits you can build a lovable and relatable character around.
If I think of mine, I love them because they make me laugh ’til I can’t breathe, they love every version of me (even grumpy, morose, or self-pitying Sandy), and they show up―no, not uninvited on my doorstep at inopportune times. I mean, they’re there―when I need them, no matter what. And, those are the women I write.
Interesting and well-developed supporting characters
The most wonderful thing about supporting characters in a romance series is that once they have played their supporting role, you can give them their own story, their own romance! And all the work you did to create and develop them in the earlier book(s) will pay off (big time) when they get the starring role. You will already have established the cadence of their speech, their looks, their mannerisms, and how they feel about life, the universe, and everything. They’re already part of the world you’ve created, so a lot of the heavy lifting of creating a person from scratch is already done.
TIP: Create detailed character profiles for your supporting characters as well as your main characters, including their vernacular, style choices, and the minutiae that makes them them.
A thread or a theme
I write travel romcoms, a sub-genre of romance novels that will one day properly take off and be a thing―known across the world to readers everywhere (I digress and yes, I may have an agenda). But what this means is that travel is a prominent thread that weaves its way through all the stories in my ‘Holiday Romance’ series. And, more specifically, it is the transformational effect of travel that acts as a catalyst for my characters’ arcs. Simply, if my main characters stayed put instead of opting to travel, they would not transform.
TIP: Consider what will link the books in your series together―besides the characters knowing each other. Many series are set in one location (e.g. Phillipa Ashley’s ‘Cornish Café’ series). Many series will have a theme, such as ‘the importance of family’ (e.g. Lucy Knott’s How to Bake a New Beginning and its sequel), and many series centre around an overarching story where all the characters have buy-in (e.g. Katie Ginger’s ‘Seafront’ series).
No matter the thread or the theme, ensure it speaks to you. You’ll be spending a lot of time with it.
A thoroughly developed character arc
Yes, here’s another one that is essential to every story, but if you’re writing a series, you have time to really marinade in the main character’s development. In romance, this may mean that the main character gets a ‘happy for now’ ending for one or two books before getting their ‘happily ever after’. And maybe their ‘happy for now’ isn’t about the romance at all. It could be a major decision they’ve made, or a self-discovery. The main thing to remember is that by the end of the series, they will have significantly transformed―even if for some of series they have been a supporting character.
TIP: Even if you’re a pantser, at least have an idea where your main and supporting characters will end up by the time the series concludes.
A good name
What’s in a name, right? Well, my publisher and I agonised over my series title for months (yes, really). And then we realised we were over thinking it. It’s a series about holiday romances, so that’s what we called it.
TIP: Choose something that no one else is using so your series stands out! The brilliant Julie Caplin snagged ‘The Romantic Escapes Series’ before I even discovered her. Otherwise, I would have wanted it for myself.
If you want to check out Sandy’s books here are the links:
Wasn’t that fabulous? Huge thank you to the wonderful Sandy Barker!