Repetition is the plague of series novelists. You find it in characterizations, plot and environment. Gore Vidal once said that most novelists have only two characters which they disguise in numerous characterizations. We tend to write about personalities we know and unless you have a very perceptive mind we see in characters similar traits. And then craft them into literary form. So in times when not writing, it helps to observe as many characteristics as possible, characteristics that will later appear interesting new characters. The key, in my opinion, is to believe that people are motivated differently. And to celebrate the difference not the identity of people.

Much can be said about repetition in plot. In adventure stories there are just so many “chase scenes” to write. And how many times should a character escape from danger? James Bond does it over and over, but he’s dull. And how many sex scenes can you write without depreciating physical sex? Good fiction involves a progression of situations which are varied but revealing of character and, hopefully, each different from the other.

The problem of character and plot repetition is compounded in series novels. I suppose an author can’t count on a reader reading all of the series, but that’s the goal. Each new novel, such as my new Rabbi Gabrielle Hatches a Scheme (number 6) needs a new venue, and Rabbi Gabrielle morphing herself into new and challenging forms.  She’s a different person from novel One, Rabbi Gabrielle’s Scandal, in which she was just beginning her career.