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Writing Technique > Spin-offs?

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message 1: by Owen (new)

Owen O'Neill (owen_r_oneill) | 625 comments It might be stretching a point to call this writing technique and it's a reader-oriented question, but here goes: What do people think about spin-offs? Fun or a distraction or ??

In this case, I mean spin-offs written by the current writers of an on-going series. Spin-offs could be new books focusing on characters from the series that are not main characters (and taking place during or before the series), or new books focusing on events mentioned in the series, but that take place outside of the series (these could be contemporaneous with the series or taking place before the series).

If you are in favor of spin-offs, do you prefer to have them released after the series is complete, or while the series is still being written?


message 2: by Robert (new)

Robert Zwilling | 229 comments I am in favor of spin offs. If you developed good material, you should use it. From an advertising point of view you might get more exposure releasing them as the series goes on. It could be used as three dimensional multi demographic advertising.


message 3: by A.H. (new)

A.H. Richards (aldous) I think spin-offs are as good as you make them. If the original material characters appeared in is good, then certainly, mine the qualities of those characters. Any substantial character has a kind of life beyond its original 'casting,' so to speak. A good writer can make an entire world out of various characters. And it does help the exposure, as Robert has said. If composers can use motifs and themes over and over, why not writers doing the equivalent?


message 4: by Christa (new)

Christa Yelich-Koth | 25 comments I am all for spin-offs. I think it's a great way to allow readers to stay in your galaxy without the author feeling obligated to stay with the same character(s).

My books, with the exception of ILLUSION and IDENTITY, (which are a two-book set) are "spin-offs". I do believe however that a spin-off should stand on its own--you don't need the reader to have read the original/origin story to enjoy your other books.

However, I don't write "series", except for the duo-book set. In that case, I don't think it's a problem to write spin-offs during the series, as long as it is its own story and doesn't create problems in the timeline of the original series. I hope that makes sense!


message 5: by Owen (new)

Owen O'Neill (owen_r_oneill) | 625 comments Thanks for the input!


message 6: by Martin (new)

Martin Wilsey | 55 comments A good story is a good story.

If the characters or universe are already out there as a frame of reference and you have permission to use them, do it.

Just write a good story.


message 7: by Jeffrey (new)

Jeffrey Collyer | 34 comments As a reader, if there's a book or series I've loved, then I would jump at a spin-off; whether that is about another character, or even time period (I'm already jotting down some ideas on a prequel for my new series - I think the lore is crying out for it).

I'm not sure I'm keen on a spin-off mid series, though. If I'm loving the main story I'd rather the author focussed on completing that first, than get sidetracked and delay knowing how it all pans out.


message 8: by Owen (new)

Owen O'Neill (owen_r_oneill) | 625 comments Jeffrey wrote: I'm not sure I'm keen on a spin-off mid series, though. If I'm loving the main story I'd rather the author focussed on completing that first, than get sidetracked and delay knowing how it all pans out..."

This is point that's been brought up quite a bit. We are wondering about it, because it raises this question: what do readers assume the production schedule to be? Right now, it a bit of a struggle to produce 2 books per year (we haven't managed it yet, but we think we will this year). That isn't because we write especially slowly, but because there are a lot of plot issues to be resolved in each book, and that just takes time.

If we were working on a spin-off, we might get 4 books out in a year, because we'd have something independent to work on while we were stewing about the other series. But our worry is that readers would then think we could produce 4 books per year on the main series, which simply isn't possible for us.

If readers did not think that, it could be a nice way to boost our output, rather than waiting until this arc of the current series is wrapped up, some years down the line. But it seems like it could be a risk.


message 9: by R.F.G. (new)

R.F.G. Cameron | 296 comments Owen,

When the readers, as a collective, pitch in to take care of all your bills, household chores and so on so you can concentrate on knocking out two to four books a year, then you should worry about that expectation.

As for spinoffs, some have been known to be better than the original story. Go for it.


message 10: by Christa (new)

Christa Yelich-Koth | 25 comments Owen,

I don't see why that couldn't be explained to your readers. Just mentioning that the series is collaborative and so takes longer, but "we still want to bring you great stories in the meantime!" and those could be the spin-offs. Readers may be impatient, but they can be understanding if they know what's going on.


message 11: by Owen (new)

Owen O'Neill (owen_r_oneill) | 625 comments R.F.G. wrote: "Owen,

When the readers, as a collective, pitch in to take care of all your bills, household chores and so on so you can concentrate on knocking out two to four books a year, then you should worry ..."


1) Yes, that is true. 2) If one is to attempt this, one should at least two books completed before the first is released (that was our big mistake). 3) About 1, check with me in December ;-)


message 12: by Owen (new)

Owen O'Neill (owen_r_oneill) | 625 comments Christa wrote: "Owen,

I don't see why that couldn't be explained to your readers. Just mentioning that the series is collaborative and so takes longer, but "we still want to bring you great stories in the meantime..."


That a good point, and certainly worth a shot. We've been talking about releasing some short stories later this year to test the waters (after our next book is out). Has anyone tried that?


message 13: by Jeffrey (new)

Jeffrey Collyer | 34 comments I've put one related short story up on my web-site, and will occasionally do another (I've written one but not posted it as it contains spoilers).


message 14: by W.B. (new)

W.B. Alexander (authwillalex) | 1 comments I tend to try to make all of my fiction spinoffs. In one form or another they manage to have characters from one story or one location or somehow mentioned something that happened in the previous story. For instance my book Twenty has 11 stories that bounce back-and-forth making comments about something that did happen or will happen in another story. I wrote my murder mystery, Ghosts Don't Die, I found a way to link it to Twenty. My next book actually takes place in a mental hospital that's mentioned in the very last story in Twenty. So where spinoffs are concerned I absolutely love them and I like to create characters that live within the exact same world even though it may stretch three or four different locations.


message 15: by Charles (new)

Charles Hash I remember late 80s early 90s fantasy where everything had a spinoff and they were like Pokemon. Gotta read them all!

Most of them were trash, so you have to be careful not to fall into that trap. They need to be as good as the source material. Seems like a lot of authors just like to phone those in, or sublet them out to other authors that just don't care as much.

I plan on doing a few spinoffs in the future.


message 16: by Imowen (new)

Imowen Lodestone (lodestonethedawnofhope) | 123 comments Owen wrote: "It might be stretching a point to call this writing technique and it's a reader-oriented question, but here goes: What do people think about spin-offs? Fun or a distraction or ??

In this case, I m..."


It really depends how the spin off is done. If the spin off takes follows after the main series, moving forward mind you. And you feel some characters you have have the potential to carry his or her own right on solo project then go for it.

However in my opinion it has to be done 'right'.
Here's my example on the right way. Secondary character was in the main series. But some how gets written off to do something
Spin off:
He or she can be the main focus in the manuscript that sets up the main character into another adventure, story or whatever you have in mind.


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