First of all, the secret to creativity is not so much brainstorming, but limiting yourself. In other words, if you asked me to join you for supper and said, “Where do you want to go?” and I replied, “I don’t care. Where do you want to go?” And then you said, “It doesn’t matter to me.” Well, suddenly we’re in a bind. While it seems that we’re free to to anything, we’re actually stuck.
On the other hand, if you said, “Well, we have forty dollars in the budget,” or “We need to be back by eight so I can catch my show,” or “I’m thinking Italian,” then you have a place to start from. A limit that, in a very real sense, sets you free.
A series provides you with those limits.
I’ve found it the most difficult to write the first book in a series since I’m trying to get to know the characters, how they will naturally act in different circumstances, and so on. Once I’ve gotten to know the characters, it’s much easier to render scenes because I know how they’ll react to their struggles and circumstances.
Every story consists of promises and payoff. In a series, you have more promises that will help shape the direction of the book—carryover promises from the previous books in the series. These also help to limit you.
However, in a series you need to be careful that you don’t end up repeating scenes, situations, dialogue and so on. And, when you have eight books in a series, that becomes more and more difficult.
Still, I prefer working on a series because I can delve more deeply into each character and explore more complex issues that carry through from one book to the next.