Friday, June 17, 2011

Series and Standalone Novels

Hi all! Please extend a warm welcome to one of my newer bloggy friends: Amy Lunderman. She's really sweet and her blog is always a fun place to stop for writing tips/experiences, blog fests and author interviews. So please head over there and say hi! ^_^



Hi there, many thanks to Misha for having me today! My name is Amy Lunderman and I’m a newly self-published author of They Walk and They Stumble. Which are the first two books in my They Walk Trilogy, a paranormal romance thriller with zombies. Mostly though, I’m a stay at home mom with a passion to write anything paranormal whether they are adult or young adult.

This brings me to the topic I want to talk about. This is the preference in reading and writing either a series or a standalone novel. Both options can be a tricky feat, in reading and writing the same. And everyone has their own opinion on it. For me, personally I’m a pretty big series fan. Mostly because, once I come up with a story idea it’s very hard to compact it all into one novel.
Thus, bores my question in how can do you choose between one and the other? What are the similarities and differences when choosing, and how do we know we’re making the right decision as writers? The answer is that as writers, we never know if we’re making the right or wrong decision. Or realistically there is no right answer. Every story is different, and all take the writer and reader into its own journey on its path to conclusion. To break both options down, I gathered my thoughts on what makes a series and standalone work.

Standalone Novel: With a standalone, there is one mind set to finishing, and that is to make the entire thing come to a conclusion. It usually starts with the introduction to the plot, and it reaches a crescendo, and then the plot pieces fit together and unit for the finish. This is what I usually have trouble with as a writer, it takes me forever to try to conclude the plot in just one book. As a reader though, I love getting right to the point in a story where everything has its own place and makes sense.

Novel Series: With a series, this is most times two separate mind sets. The first is a single plot that is spaced out through the entire series. The second is where the main plot is wrapped up in the first book, and then using the same theme a new plot is created for the continuation of the series. This is where a series is my choice, because you can continue the story and make it what you will. As a reader, I like to join in on the journey of the characters and see where the story takes them.

That is my take on the series vs. standalone preference, but what is yours? Do you love having a story that you know will have a conclusion with one book? Or do you love having the story carry you to places unimaginable with a series? The reading and writing world is very vast, and every part of it is a journey worth taking.



18 comments:

Judy Croome said...

I love stories that are linked (eh Black Dagger Brotherhood or Karen Marie Monig's McKeltar Druid series) but each story must be standalone - I want my complete ending, and I want it now, not in a year's time. As much as I like KMM's voice, I haven't bought a single Fever series because I don't like serials.
Judy, South Africa

Jessica R. Patch said...

I like both. When I'm writing, I generally know ahead of time if it's one story or if I'm going to continue it on. The characters usually tell me. I'm a big fan of Patricia Cornwell, Patterson ie. Murder Club, and both the Kellermans. All have great series books. :)

Amy said...

Thank you for commenting Judy and Jessica!

I must admit I've never read the books mentioned. However they have all been added to my TBR list and I can't wait to get started. SO many good choices to read now! :)

Sean Thomas Fisher said...

I've heard that a series will sell better on the Kindle and Nook. But I also heard the world was going to end recently and, subsequently, maxed out all of my credit cards. Now I have to live with the grim reality of my own naivety every time a bill arrives in the mail. But thanks for the great post, Amy!

Michael Offutt said...

I love the picture you have included with this blog post. It never occurred to me that a circle placed on the pages of a book forms a heart shape.

Good luck on your zombie book. I have added it to my to be read pile of books that I'm slowly whittling down so I will get around to it. I like zombies and am looking forward to the return of the "Walking Dead" this fall on AMC.

Michael Offutt said...

I just noticed Sean Thomas Fisher's comment...dude...I hope you were pulling our leg on the whole "world ending" thing? You seriously didn't buy into some religious con-artist bullshit, did you? /facepalm <==atheist (science is all the religion that I need)

Sharon Hamilton said...

Great post, Amy.
I love to read series, and only do so when one of the books snags me. I tend to write that way, because I sometimes fall in love with a secondary character (who can take over if I'm not careful). Once you set up the world, especially in paranormal, so much richer to plow that fertile soil. But I've seen authors do it too in urban or small town settings, the world building.

My contemp SEAL stories I'm working on now are all about the community, too. Just natural to write in series. But they all have to be written so that if someone picked up one book, it would stand on its own legs.

Amy said...

Sean: I heard that too about a series being pretty popular on Kindle and Nook. Hope it's true, I have too many series in my back pocket waiting to be written.

Chin up about the world not ending yet, I heard another one is coming in about four months! ;)

Michael: Thank you, I love that picture too! As soon as I saw it, I had to use it with something.

I am eagerly awaiting the return of the Walking Dead too. October is too far away!

Amy said...

Thank you Sharon!

I have a few secondary characters that are trying to take over in one of my current WIP too! I ended up rewriting him in a lot more than I intended, but it's for the better I think.

World building is my absolute favorite thing about doing a series, and I can spend days working on it!

Odie Langley said...

I also love books that are linked and have familiar characters. Very good blog today.

Rosalind Adam said...

I prefer a standalone novel. I've never yet read a 2nd or 3rd in a trilogy that I've enjoyed as much as the 1st one.

Amy said...

Thank you Odie!

Still a good choice Rosalind, there are so many great standalone novels out there. :)

Myne Whitman said...

Series are always very popular, and I think they also give the writer/author some kind of thread to keep weaving on.

LynNerd said...

Congratulations on your books, Amy. If it's a good story, I'll read it, whether a series or all tied up in one book. As far as writing a series, I find it tricky reintroducing the characters again in a unique way and setting everything up again, but when we fall in love with certain characters, at least as far as I'm concerned, I don't want the story to end. I loved The Hunger Games. So hard to say goodbye to some characters! Nice to meet you, Amy.

Langley said...

I like the stories to refer to each other or share characters but still be able to stand on their own. It's hard to do, but for me, it's a worthy goal. Great post.

Joyce Lansky said...

I love reading books from a series yet become frustrated and angered if each book is not able to stand by itself. I feel cheated when I come to the end of a book only to find that it's not over and the next book will not be out for many months. Although I loved Susanne Collins' Hunger Games, I purposely held off reading Catching Fire until Mocking Jay was released because my son warned me about the lack of ending in the middle book. To me, not ending a book is a cheap way to sell novels, and I won't start a series if the author has a reputation for not providing satisfying endings. Non-ending stories is one reason why I hate Stephen King and will not read him anymore.

Joyce
http://joycelansky.blogspot.com

Amy said...

Myne Whitman: Keeping the story going is one of the reasons I love reading and writing a series! :)

LynNerd: Thank you! I feel you about being attached to characters and not wanting their story to end, it's one of the harder points to finishing a series.

Langley: Thank you! :)

Joyce Lansky: I'm the same way! I read a book in a day and it ends with a cliffhanger, then I find out the next doesn't come out for a month to a year; it's enough to cause a headache. Though, I'm sure to countdown the days till the next one! :)

Wendy. Blog Author said...

As reader I prefer my books as Judy the first commenter. I tend to steer off series which follow the story from the previous book because what if I can't get a hold of the next book. And by the time I get it my reading mood may have changed totally, but if its a great series like Jean Auel's cChildren of the Earth series I will read it.