I’ve been carefully going over Libbie Hawker‘s #1 bestselling book Take Off Your Pants: Outline Your Books for Faster, Better Writing. This contains excellent advice, and I’m recommending it to all my writer friends.

I won’t rehash the contents here. All I have to add here is some brief observations about writing a series (which I define as multiple episodes) rather than a single work.

If you’ve watched any amount of TV, you probably realize that character arcs can be rare. Captain Kirk is usually the same person at the end of an episode as at the beginning. In fact, in some series, writers go out of their way to make sure the episodes can be re-run in any order.

But there are exceptions. Like when Picard got turned into a Borg, that had lasting repercussions on later episodes.

Libbie’s system is based on starting with a character goal and an opposing flaw. The way I’m handling this in my episodic fiction is to define two different levels of goals/flaws. The bigger ones stretch out over the entire series. And each episode gets a sub-goal paired with a sub-flaw that the protag confronts and defeats (or not) in the course of the episode.

So far this seems to be working pretty well, and I’d bet it could scale up even more, with three levels for series, season, and episode. And so it goes.