I am an aspiring author, and I have recently just begun developing my first novel. It is a series, but I have engineered the first novel to be a standalone in case the series falls through.
When I look at other successful series, I continue to see inter-connected plots across all the books. Scenes that we thought didn't have much meaning turn out to spawn chapters later on. The day is saved by a seemingly insignificant moment back in book one. And it's not just little things: the climax of book two may start the quest of book three, which launches the drive of book four and forms the antagonist of book five.
How can I create plots that are woven together so expertly, and inter-connect with each other in so many ways? Is there some special formula I've missed? Or is it purely writer genius?
In the Fablehaven series, the climax of book two turns out to spawn the entire side story of book three (the shadow plague). In addition, it transforms the secondary protagonist, giving him abilities that are crucial to the plot of all later books. In a separate case, in book one the main protagonist receives a transformation, giving her abilities that at the time seem random. Every single one of her abilities is used multiple times in future novels, and the very fact of her transformation is a key plot element all the way to the end.
In the Harry Potter series, the protagonist does a seemingly random-though-spectacular action (catching his first snitch). The action never comes up again until the final book, where it turns out to have significant bearing on the climax of the entire series (sort of).
I'm sure there are many other examples. These are just a few off the top of my head.