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Fun > Do you prefer to write books in a series or standalones?

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message 1: by Phillip (new)

Phillip Murrell | 360 comments I originally thought writing a series was more fun because I could really go deep with my characters. There were so many pages to write about. Nobody was left behind. However, now I like to write standalone books in many different universes. Sure, I can't have as many characters get a chance at center stage, but readers get to finish everything written about the character. A story should get better as it goes; therefore, the last book in the series has the best stuff. However, if readers aren't hooked enough (or have time enough) to read eight more books, they won't see those brilliant words.

What are your thoughts? Does your opinion change when you switch from writer to reader?


message 2: by Tomas, Wandering dreamer (new)

Tomas Grizzly | 672 comments Mod
Since I got to try writing out of nowhere, I just went with the idea I had. Considering the length, it was clear to be a series (at that time I thought 3-4 books, I now know it'll be a trilogy) and now I am doing my best to put it together. I have some other ideas in the same fictional world if I want to keep writing when this is done.

What will happen when I'm done with the ideas I have for this world? No idea. It's not going to be a relevant question for at least a decade anyway.


message 3: by Dwayne, Head of Lettuce (new)

Dwayne Fry | 4284 comments Mod
Everything I write works as a stand-alone, yet it's all connected in some way. So, I guess I get the best of both worlds.

I do have a few series of stories going, but they're only called series because they are set in the same "world" and often times characters from one story may show up in another. For instance, there's a heavyset woman that plays a small important part in the first Noah City story I wrote. She makes a short appearance in the second one, too. She vanished for a while, then became the star of the sixth story.


message 4: by Ben (new)

Ben Cass (bencass) I'm currently working on a series, so I might be biased, but I can't imagine writing a standalone. I almost never even READ standalone stories. I want multiple stories with the characters, so I get to know them.


message 5: by Xanxa (new)

Xanxa | 38 comments Mine is a bit of both - a series of fantasy novels with carry-over of locations and characters, but each book can be read as a stand-alone.

When I first started out building my fantasy universe over 30 years ago, I never intended it to become a series. I also didn't start out writing fantasy. I began what was meant to be a single old-school detective story in the vein of Dixon Hill, Maltese Falcon, etc. Along the way, it gained fantastical elements. I then came up with ideas for prequels and sequels. That original novel ended up as the third in a series of seven.

I've been told by fellow writers, alpha and beta readers and readers of the finished products that my strength as a writer lies in world-building.

That first series of seven has now spawned another series of four off-shoot novels nearing completion. A further four novels are in the planning stages.

I'm so familiar with my constructed universe that I can't envisage writing outside it in the foreseeable future.

As a reader, I'm happy to read stand-alone books or series. As long as they're well-written, with credible characters and plots that hold my interest, I'll read them.


message 6: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 333 comments I have a foot in each camp. I write futuristic novels, and so far I have kept to the same history, however the history comprises a number of stand-alone books (although occasionally a minor character carries over. I have two series with a common character (different one in each) but in each case, the more important aspects are carried by different characters. I think I prefer stand-alone. The two series each started off as single books, but they got too long, so I had to split them. Not sure this helps the discussion at all.


message 7: by Ian (new)

Ian Bott (iansbott) | 263 comments I guess I'm leaning towards the standalone, but without a statistically significant sample to go on just yet.

Last year I published a sequel to my first novel, which seemed a natural continuation of a very fun universe and main character. And I deliberately wrote it so it could be easily read on its own. There are definitely more stories possible in that world, but a series? I wouldn't go that far.

In between times, I wrote a complete standalone novel, and am now working on another entirely unconnected story. Although my "Shayla" world was immense fun to write, it's also good to explore unconnected possibilities.


message 8: by Bill (new)

Bill Greenwood | 38 comments I don't think my novels count as much as a series as simply existing in the same universe. They're all connected, with characters that appear in all three. While it's a proven technique (such as how peripheral figures have popped up across multiple Stephen King novels), and can make it easier to fashion the world your characters and events live in, you also have to be a lot more diligent with background details. If those aren't reasonably consistent across books, it can derail the reader.


message 9: by Leah (new)

Leah Reise | 350 comments Wow, it kind of sounds like we are all somewhat similar in how we connect our stand-alones or series. Apparently I’m on the right track too.


message 10: by Micah (last edited Apr 19, 2019 07:49AM) (new)

Micah Sisk (micahrsisk) | 1042 comments I have two "universes" that I've written multiple stories in (published or not) but all the stories so far are standalone.

I really like authors such as Iain M. Banks and Peter F. Hamilton, Ken MacLeod, and Alastair Reynolds who have all written standalone works set in one universe.

The only multi-book type of stories I like (duologies, trilogies, or tetralogies) are ones that are one contiguous story that's simply too complex to be handled in a single book.

I view that kind of book differently than "series" books, which I think of more like a TV show where the number of episodes is potentially unending. To me, you must have a planned beginning, middle, and end of a story. There has to be some justification for more than one book other than to explore the lives of every single character in perpetuity (which ultimately becomes soap opera in my mind, and which is why I really don't like most episodic never ending TV shows).

But...other than the aforementioned stories in common universes, all my book ideas are standalone. And most of what I've read is standalone as well. I think there is a lot to be said for crafting a story concisely and with purpose. The story should dictate the length.


message 11: by Sophia (new)

Sophia Beaumont (sophiabeaumont) | 3 comments Phillip wrote: "I originally thought writing a series was more fun because I could really go deep with my characters. There were so many pages to write about. Nobody was left behind. However, now I like to write s..."

I thought I would be a series writer when I first started, and while I do have some series projects planned, I like the contained structure of a stand alone. I think right now my list of 1st drafts, projects in revision, and published works is split pretty evenly between series books and stand alones.


message 12: by Phillip (new)

Phillip Murrell | 360 comments Micah wrote: "The only multi-book type of stories I like (duologies, trilogies, or tetralogies) are ones that are one contiguous story that's simply too complex to be handled in a single book."

That's a good point. My "series" I mentioned before is more aligned to this. It's four books (originally planned as five) that tell the complete story. Short of millions of fans demanding more (who don't currently know they exist), I'm on to new universes.


message 13: by M.L. (new)

M.L. | 1102 comments I don't put the idea of standalone or series first. The story is first and just depends on how long it takes to tell it.

As far as reading, I read series or standalones. But even if I like a series it does not mean I will read every book in it.


message 14: by [deleted user] (last edited Apr 19, 2019 02:58PM) (new)

As a reader when it comes to fiction, I like to read stand alone stories but with minimal references to other works. That way if I'm interested in those works or characters, I would go look for them.

As a writer, I like to vary. If a story requires a trilogy, I'll do a trilogy. If the story requires a stand alone, I'll do a stand alone. I like to do a series that somewhat connects so it's not only one trilogy but related books including stand alone ones.


message 15: by Dave (new)

Dave Williams | 22 comments Series. My first book that I'm getting out into the reading world right now is planned to be a series. They just are more fun to do since you can add new characters, threats, and more for your same main character.


message 16: by Lila (new)

Lila Diller I like reading series, so I started to write my own series. Although the reader of course gets a deeper appreciation for the characters if they read all of them in order, and that's what I recommend, they technically can be read as standalones, as each has a separate theme and different character arcs (which I've been told by several writing coaches is the best way to do a series). I didn't intend them to be standalones, but it works. I think it depends on the genre and the expectations of the readers.


message 17: by Justin (new)

Justin (justinbienvenue) | 779 comments Great question. I prefer to write stand alones but seeing as series are becoming more and more popular I've started on my first series. I like stand alones because you write it and it speaks for itself whereas series are a continuation where you keep it going and it's not always easy thinking of a ton of plot to make an entire series out of.


message 18: by Jenna (new)

Jenna Moquin | 5 comments I prefer stand-alone novels, but I’m not opposed to reading a series if I like the writing, or the story.


message 19: by Tony (new)

Tony Blenman | 90 comments Years ago, I read historical fiction on wars between Britain, America, and the French, written as a series, and I couldn't wait to get my hands on the next book. Got to know the characters well. But in the past while, I have preferred stand-alone, because I want to get a sense of the style of different authors with the intent of elevating my writing to the next level.
I have written short stories, stand-alone, but my most recent dictates a continuation, so maybe, it's up to the characters and the story that determine stand-alone or series.


message 20: by [deleted user] (new)

I'm with Tomas and M.L. The idea comes, then depending on how long I rattle on about it, it's a series or a stand alone. And I think genre matters. How many books in a series can you write on how to tie your shoes...

The Harry Potter series was great as a series, you couldn't wait for the next one to hit the shelves, but The Hobbit was a great stand alone. Then - they built the LOTR series around that.

Good reading is good reading regardless. At least in my opinion...


message 21: by Peter (new)

Peter Martuneac | 97 comments My book was originally going to be stand alone, and it was crafted with that in mind. But after I finished the first draft, I realized I had fallen in love with the protagonists and I simply couldn't leave it at just one book. So it's turning into a trilogy!


message 22: by Peter (new)

Peter Martuneac | 97 comments From the reader's perspective, I don't have a preference so long as there's a good ending. I feel like in many forms of media, mostly movies or video games, the potential profits of making sequel after sequel has destroyed the art of "The End". I know we don't want to leave our favorite characters and worlds, but a perfect goodbye is just as important as any other part of the story, and once you get that goodbye you just gotta go.


message 23: by Micah (new)

Micah Sisk (micahrsisk) | 1042 comments Beth wrote: "Then - they built the LOTR series around that..."

Actually LOTR was written as one book. It was only broken into a trilogy because at the time selling a fantasy book that's nearly 2,000 pages long (478,103 words, or about 1,913 pages) was considered infeasible. In fact, Tolkien wanted The Silmarillion to be published along with LOTR. The publishers refused. There was a disagreement over edits to the book for being too long, and ultimately it was decided to be released in 3 books to cut the risk of financial loss due to the cost of type-setting and low expected sales.

So, not a series, but rather one book published as a trilogy.


message 24: by Phillip (new)

Phillip Murrell | 360 comments Peter wrote: " I feel like in many forms of media, mostly movies or video games, the potential profits of making sequel after sequel has destroyed the art of "The End"."

I completely agree. I feel it's obvious when the story "needed" another chapter versus the producers "needed" more money. Good on them for getting it, but I like reading stories, not never-ending soap operas. Unfortunately, there isn't an "entertainment business" anymore. When it comes to mass appeal, there is simply "profit from entertainment." New stuff has slim margins, so better to reboot, sequel, or prequel a known hit.

On a completely separate note, this month's Cynics Anonymous meeting will be 11 May at noon. We'll have punch and pie.


message 25: by Dwayne, Head of Lettuce (new)

Dwayne Fry | 4284 comments Mod
Phillip wrote: "On a completely separate note, this month's Cynics Anonymous meeting will be 11 May at noon. We'll have punch and pie. "

I'll believe it when I see it.


message 26: by Peter (new)

Peter Martuneac | 97 comments Phillip wrote: "On a completely separate note, this month's Cynics Anonymous meeting will be 11 May at noon. We'll have punch and pie,"

Count me in!



message 27: by Noor (new)

Noor Al-Shanti | 147 comments Dwayne wrote: "Phillip wrote: "On a completely separate note, this month's Cynics Anonymous meeting will be 11 May at noon. We'll have punch and pie. "

I'll believe it when I see it."


LOL

Anyway, I totally agree with those saying that story should dictate length and whether it's a series and that stories shouldn't be forced to have endless continuations just to cash in on the trend. As excited as people might be for that kind of thing they will get tired and only the truly good stories will be remembered whether they were single books or trilogies or longer series.

Harry Potter had a logical reason for being seven books. It was planned so it went through the seven years of his schooling and it was also planned so that Harry would grow in experience and eventually be ready to face Voldemort. So despite whatever flaws there might be in execution or certain books being better than others it still felt like the right number of books/made sense. (Now with this new Fantastic beasts spin off it feels like they're just trying to milk it for all they can get.)

Also, as someone who did most of their reading from the library (up until I expanded into ebooks a few years ago) I really HATE finding a promising looking book on the shelf only to find out it's book 3 or 5 or 2 in some huge series. And of course more often than not the library would only have that one and NOT have book 1!

As a writer I have a fantasy world I'm building where most of my fantasy short stories, novellas, and books take place. So the stories are all connected by being in the same world, sometimes a character from one story will make it as a minor character in another one, but other than that they were intended to all be stand-alone books. So they're not really a series, just books set in the same world.

Incidentally, I think goodreads and the different retailers like Amazon should really have a separate way to mark books as being in the same world or universe other than the "series" title.

I don't just write fantasy, though. I also write science fiction and I even have a more historical novel that I wrote last year. I also just got an idea for a post-apocalyptic story and I can already see that idea developing into several different novels showing how different parts of the world are affected by the post-apocalyptic event. Even with those I would make sure to keep each novel stand alone and I wouldn't really consider them a series because they don't follow each other chronological and are more parallel, just separated by geographic location.


message 28: by Micah (new)

Micah Sisk (micahrsisk) | 1042 comments Noor wrote: "Incidentally, I think goodreads and the different retailers like Amazon should really have a separate way to mark books as being in the same world or universe other than the "series" title."

Amen to that. In order to put standalone books together in a universe on Amazon you have to treat them as a series. I have issues with that. Not the least of them is ... Let's say you publish two books in the same universe and then later come out with a prequel. Because of the series title numbers it'll LOOK to the unobservant reader like the prequel is chronologically the third book when it's actually the first.

Dumb.


message 29: by [deleted user] (new)

Micah wrote: "Beth wrote: "Then - they built the LOTR series around that..."

Actually LOTR was written as one book. It was only broken into a trilogy because at the time selling a fantasy book that's nearly 2,0..."


I stand corrected (and impressed with your knowledge of the backstory). I only thought I knew what I thought I knew :)


message 30: by B.A. (new)

B.A. A. Mealer | 824 comments I like stand alones which can be a series. I do have one which will be a series or one VERY large book. No matter how I look at it, it can't be made into stand alone books. You need to know what happened before to understand the events while reading the story.

The Jillian Factor will end up a trilogy, possibly more if I come up with another case fore her to investigate. They are stand alone books but related due to the main character. My trilogy is also stand alone books with different leads for each book but related to traveling together for a couple of months.

As a reader. I dislike getting books which can't be read in any order. Normally I get burnt out on a series before it's done (Can we say Outlander....bored when their daughter got to them in the past, still haven't finished the series.) The Belador series is also slowly getting old for me. I find that 3-5 books in a series is usually the best. After 5, it's normal stale.


message 31: by [deleted user] (new)

I agree with B.A. After about 3-5 books you sometimes feel like you've seen the characters do everything and go everywhere etc etc. I do love the feeling of anticipation, waiting for the next book in a series, but totally agree that after time it can feel monotonous. Having said that, even if J.K. Rowling writes a hundred more books pertaining to HP and Magical Beasts, I'll likely read them all. Twice...


message 32: by Peter (last edited Aug 22, 2020 01:03PM) (new)

Peter Wooton | 3 comments I'm not sure if my books qualify as a series as such. The later two feature the same characters but the first is completely different and has nothing whatsoever to do with the other two. Commercially successful authors always seem to feature a single, strong central character in their work. An individual the reader can identify and follow, love or hate. Consequently writing a series is probably better than spending time writing one-offs. The only snag being writing a series requires a lot of imagination and effort. That said, I'm working on a fourth novel and this time I've opted for the series approach by using the same central character as the two others.

Dilemma
Cold Gold: Murder and deceit at sixty-six degrees north
Night Games


message 33: by Dorothy (new)

Dorothy Bennett (alysblugwn) | 47 comments I've written four stand-alone books, and I love being able to work with new characters and new ideas. It seems to me that it is easier to build a following with series novels, but I don't think I'm cut out to do that. I just finished a book, and now my brain is filled with a new idea for a novel with totally different characters in a different setting.


message 34: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 333 comments My longest series, five books, was written as one rather long book first, written as a stand-alone, but then I noticed there was a lot of backstory that had to be cut out because it didn't fit, so I ended up writing that, and it in turn ended up as three books, which to make the fourth fit ended up being converted to a quest, which in turn required a fifth to end it. However, all of them are about quite different things, and the fourth and fifth only have the major character of the first three as convenient additions to get certain things done - the main characters have shifted. Probably not the right way to go about it, but I am happy I did it.


message 35: by N. F. (new)

N. F. Garrow Jr | 3 comments I have three books in a series, one more on the way. I still enjoy the story, however, I have an idea for a stand-alone book. So once the 4th in the series is complete I will write the new story then jump back to the series.
I feel this will refresh the series in my mind.


message 36: by Phillip (new)

Phillip Murrell | 360 comments N. F. wrote: "I have three books in a series, one more on the way. I still enjoy the story, however, I have an idea for a stand-alone book. So once the 4th in the series is complete I will write the new story th..."

I did the same thing. Four books in a series, now several standalones. The first two are already written.


message 37: by Tammy (new)

Tammy Nelson (amazoncomauthortlnelson) | 3 comments I am in the middle of the third book of my trilogy. The next two books will be stand alone.


M. Ray Holloway Jr.   (mrayhollowayjr) | 180 comments I think it depends on the story. I started a short story that turned into a trilogy. To tell the story properly, I had to do a lot of world building. The more I got into it, the more I realized that it was not short story material.

In other stories, I could tell that the complete tale was over after only one book or sometimes in just a short story. I am good with my stand alone book, and equally happy with the trilogy that I am wrapping up now.


message 39: by Angela (new)

Angela Joseph | 132 comments I wrote three books in a series then a standalone. I don't know if I'll write another series. The storyline and the characters have to be really compelling for me to do that.


message 40: by Marc (new)

Marc Therrien | 8 comments My experience as an author is limited, but right now I feel better writing series than standalones. I love to create new universes, and series allow me to explore the worlds I create and the characters who evolve in them deeper.


message 41: by Edward (new)

Edward Bowman | 30 comments I agree with your idea, in principle, but in reality, sometimes series become difficult to maintain momentum. One has to delve in to keep the readers interested. If you take 3 years between books, or something, you could use traction with readers, as your trilogy is released over 9 years.

That being said, I do like the idea of creating a universe, and writing books that explore said universe. As a matter of fact, I have two series in the pipeline. One is a children's series that might get released next year, but the other is a full fledged fantasy/sci-fi series that is still probably a decade out, if I had to guess. lol.


message 42: by Abby (new)

Abby Smith | 6 comments I love writing series because I get to take my time with the story and explore things that wouldn’t be possible in a standalone.


message 43: by T.K. (new)

T.K. Arispe (tkarispe) For me it really depends on what the story wants to be! I have yet to write a series, because I haven't yet written anything long enough to merit splitting into separate books. Plus, I have so many ideas for completely unrelated novels, I really want to get around to those first before considering continuing to write about a previously established world or cast.

As a reader, I'm not picky. If I like something I like something, no matter how long or short it is!


message 44: by Gabriela (new)

Gabriela Casineanu | 1 comments I write standalone non-fiction books and group them into series based on similar topics.


message 45: by Tony (new)

Tony Blenman | 90 comments In reviewing the input provided by writers and readers alike, some prefer stand-alone, others, series. So, I don't think it comes down to either, or. Maybe it's up to the writer's comfort zone, and, if the main character is strong enough to carry a series, if that is the preference of the writer.


message 46: by Peter (new)

Peter Topside I wrote my first book, Preternatural, never intending on more than just the single book. However, after sitting on it for awhile, I still felt that there was more to tell, so I wrote a sequel. Then after that, I still had the feeling and a solid storyline that I felt would be a fitting conclusion to the first 2 books, and along came book 3. So I think it just depends on the author's preference and even possibly the type of book.


message 47: by James (new)

James Corkill | 12 comments I just published the 7th book of the series and I found the hardest part is giving each book just enough information about the previous story that the reader can enjoy it as a stand alone without a big info dump. Many readers use the reviews to learn about a previous story, so no need to add a lot of detail to the next one. I find many who read a newer story in the series become interested enough to go to the first book and read the entire history of the main character and his friends.


message 48: by J.T. (new)

J.T. Fisher (jtfisherauthor) | 1 comments I prefer to write stand alone fiction. Each of my books deals with a separate topic of difficulty that we as the human race encounter in living our lives... I try to deal with it in a fictional and therefore more palatable way. It would be a sad, sorry life if someone had to face all of them in one life, so I give each problem to a new character!


message 49: by Caitlyn (last edited Oct 27, 2020 12:36PM) (new)

Caitlyn O'Leary (caitlynoleary) | 3 comments I LOVE reading books, as long as the blurb catches my interest, or it's by one of my favorite authors, I'm in! I have a very diverse background, and got into writing at 50. (Six years ago) My last job was VP of sales and marketing, so I analyzed what was selling in the romance field. Series.

I have 5 different series, 2 have not done so well, 3 are pumping along. ALL of my books are stand-alone happily ever-afters (no cliff-hangers), just in the same world. 85% of the book is focused on the new couple and their adventure, 15% of the book brings in other characters from previous/upcoming books.

This has been a successful model. When I grow up and want to write my "Pat Conroy novel", that's going to be a standalone under my real name. LOL


message 50: by Gail (last edited Oct 27, 2020 01:57PM) (new)

Gail Meath (goodreadscomgail_meath) | 193 comments Hi Caitlyn, good for you getting into writing! (I'm a bit older than you:) The blurb...do you struggle with that? I do/have/and probably always will. Uh, summarize the main points of a 300 page novel....not easy while trying to grab the reader's attention right away. I wondered if you had some tips? (oops, had to look up Pat Conroy - I'm historical author with Daphne du Maurier as a mentor...lol).


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