Sunday, June 19, 2011

Standalone, Sequels, Trilogies, Sagas!

This is an interesting subject. Some authors need multiple books to get their whole stories out. Some need one. Some need a million. He he. Just kidding. (Even though there are some books that you're like "Seriously? What else could possibly happen to these characters that you need to write a 10th book about them?!")

I was wondering what you guys prefer. I know it ultimately depends on the story, but have you ever read a book that was so amazing you just wished it had at least a sequel? Or have you read a series that had too many books in it?
What about your WIP's? Do you plan on a series before you write? Or do you vow never to write a series?
My fairytale book was written as a standalone at first, but I still have so much story to tell that I would love to write a sequel. Someday.
Bound is another story. I know exactly what I want to happen with it. I'm writing it as a trilogy. Hopefully it will see the light of day in a few years.
I also have a contemporary that I know will only be a standalone. That's how I want to write it and that's how it will stay.
Have you ever noticed how a lot of comtemps are not part of a series? Why is that I wonder?
Thoughts? Discuss!


Trisha said...

Oh yes, sometimes I've been devastated to know that the story was actually at an end. Sometimes I even...continued the story in my head. Even wrote it down on occasion :)

Sara Furlong-Burr said...

Personally, I LOVE series. Currently, I'm working on a trilogy and am having a blast with the characters. In my opinion, if your book is going to be anything other than a stand alone, you really need to have stellar characters that connect with the audience making them thirsty for more.

Savannah Smith said...

My WIP started out as a standalone, and then I realized it would have had an open ending, and that's never very fun for the reader. So I added a sequel. Then I changed the enemy and made them more menacing and somehow my standalone Historical fiction became a Historical fantasy four-book saga. ;)

Jeigh said...

I wrote my first draft as a standalone with the possibility of a sequel. Then, I changed some things and I'm rewriting it as a trilogy. I think it will work better, though, because the standalone was 120,000 words, so I have a lot to say, I guess!

Kadie Kinney said...

My first book is meant to be part of a trilogy. I like trilogy's because it gives you enough time to grow with the characters and by the time you reach book three, you know what they're going to say and how they're going to act and you can feel okay about leaving them be.
My WIP is a contemporary and I can't imagine it as anything but a standalone. I wonder why that is too. Interesting...

Stephanie McGee said...

Everything I've read lately is part of a series/trilogy/etcetera. I think that the reasoning behind standalones is valid, especially for a debut author, where the publisher isn't sure the first will sell enough to justify buying an entire series. If I remember correctly, J.K. Rowling only got the publisher to buy books 1-3 at first. When sales did well they bought the rest. (Don't quote me on that.)

I've read some comments lately where the person commenting seems to think J.K. Rowling was pushing it with how many HP books she wrote, mostly going for that seventh. But Jo planned it that way from the very beginning. Seven years of school, seven books. I don't agree with the commenters in that regard.

For me, it's totally story dependent. My first book is standalone. My second was always planned as part of a trilogy. (Okay, maybe at one point it was four books.) I have another in my head that's a trilogy. My third book, the adult contemporary fantasy, is standalone but I can put out companion novels told in the same fantasy world, just not contemporary (that I have ideas for anyway). Fourth novel was standalone. The current WiP, when I was world-building I thought for a while there'd be seven books. That got cut down to a trilogy, but still.

It's totally story dependent. Selling the series/trilogy/etcetera is dependent on the market and the whim of publishers. Just write the story you need to tell and worry about the rest later.

Anonymous said...

I can stand reading series, but I don't think I could write them. Sometimes I find sequels cheesy, but I don't know if that's just me. (Usually it's the movie sequels that are cheesy.) I always like new books, new ideas, not the same old thing being dragged on.

linda said...

So I wrote this long comment but then it got lost as I was editing it :(

Basically it was about why I'm not a fan of trilogies and series in general, even though everyone seems to be writing them. I think I'll write a longer blog post about this, but here's a summary of my thoughts:

1. I can't think of many series where I loved every installment. I'd rather read one book I adore than a set of hits-and-misses.
2. I hate cliffhanger endings (especially in the first book). If I make it through that many pages I want a resolution!
3. Sequels tend to be disappointing; I'd rather the author write a new story than add to one I already love as-is
4. Hunting down every book in a series (and in the right order!) can be a pain sometimes
5. It's so much worse to feel let-down by the ending if you've been invested for several books

I do like series composed of standalone companion novels, though, since they tend not to have those problems. Plus you get to return to a specific world and maybe catch glimpses of favorite characters without the weak-sequel syndrome.

I understand the appeal of series in that they allow for greater development in terms of character/setting/plot, but for me the trade-off isn't worth it in most cases.

But seeing as how so many blockbuster YA novels are parts of series, I'm pretty sure my opinion places me in the minority, so don't mind me. :P

Steven Whibley said...

I enjoy a good series. But when I write, even though I often have a series plot in mind, I write the first book so that it's stand alone. I figure that gives the publisher the option: contract me for one book, or for the series.

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

One thing I've decided is that to be a really successful YA, it needs a sequel. At least. Not so much for adult books. But the book I'm currently writing was only going to be one book. I decided to change that and turn it into a sequel. If I come up w/ enough plots, maybe even a trilogy, as that seems to be the hottest thing right now.

Kristina Fugate said...

My WIP was supposed to be a standalone, but somewhere around the middle I realized I wouldn't be able to accomplish everything I wanted with one book. Plus, the ending would've been pretty open and, like Savannah said, that's no fun for the reader. So far, I've got a sequel and a prequel planned. I can't wait to expand on my characters and my world :D

Now, my first book--I always knew I wanted it to be part of a trilogy. I had way too many ideas for the characters to fit everything into one book. (I had a 148k word draft at one point. Lol. Definitely had to dial it back and find way to move certain things into the later books.)

S.P. Bowers said...

I wrote my book as a standalone and I was NOT making it a series but my characters had other ideas. It's now a trilogy.

Kelley Vitollo said...

I like both. I LOVE a good series as long as it doesn't go on TOO long. I do think there could be more stand alone paranormals though. They all seem to be series. I with there were more out there that could be wrapped up in one book.

Misha said...

I tend to think in terms of series and trilogies, for some reason. Probably because I hate when a book I read ends beautifully, but leaves me wondering what happens to everyone.

Doorways is Book 1 in what I hope will be a four book continuous series.

My second WiP is book one in a long series of lone-standing books.

WiPs 3 and 4 are currently lone standers, but with potential to expand. WiP 4 probably won't though. Its story (the bits I know)feels self-contained.

I love reading series, but not if they're too long (when continuous) or the gaps between publishings are too wide (again with continuous series).

Michelle Merrill said...

I love both. Sometimes the series thing gets old but then I get so excited to read more about those character's I grew to love! I'd like to see more two book series. A lot of times the second book in a trilogy just feels like a stretch to get from the first book to the third. Great post!

Maggie said...

As a reader I hate that almost every book has to be part of a series or trilogy these days. I definitely prefer stand-alone books.

As a writer, I like stand-alones or "companion" novels--ones that have the same characters but don't have to be read in order to understand.

My first novel could have companion books (and I'm working on one slowly but surely). And my second novel is a definite stand-alone.

LynNerd said...

The YA novel I'm working on is a stand alone. I'm co-authoring a MG series and love it and hope it never ends! The second book was just released. I guess it all depends on the story.

I haven't been receiving your posts in my Google Reader, but will copy & paste your URL into it right now! Take care.

Brenda Sills said...

Hey Chantele - I'm running out to my son's BBall game, but before I go, I wanted to tell you that I awarded you THE IRRESISTIBLY SWEET BLOG AWARD! Yay Chantele! You are so Wonderful! You can check out what to do on my blog. :)

L.J. said...

There are so many books that I've read that are series books. Usually each one of them is great. There are some that I've started, however, at book 1 and never wanted to move on. My current WIP is turning into a trilogy only because it has 3 major plots that I want to tell in my head. I guess I do not prefer one or the other, as long as the book keeps me interested.

Chantele Sedgwick said...

@Trisha Ha! That's a great idea to continue the story! :)
@Sara Furlong-Burr I am a big fan of series, just not huge cliffhangers at the end. Hate those because I usually have to wait a year for the next book! ;)
@Savannah Smith Ha! Love it! Your standalone turned into 4 books. Awesome. :)
@Jeigh Nothing's wrong if you have a lot to say! :) Trust me... ;)
@Kadie Kinney I really like trilogies as well. If I love a character enough, I hate it when the book ends and always want more! :)
@Stephanie McGee I agree about it being story dependent. I also love your advice about writing the story that is calling to you and not worrying about everyone else. :)
@Madeline Bartos I agree about dragging. Sometimes it feels like sequels are all the same. But then I read a killer sequel and love them all over again. Depends on my mood I guess. ;)
@linda Oh, man. I HATE cliffhanger endings as well. I do like companion novels as well. I love seeing cameos of characters I loved in other books. I do like most series, but there are some that I don't understand why they had to have two more books about the same thing that happened in the first book. It all depends on the book I guess. I love some and am not a fan of others. ;)
@Steven Whibley I do the same thing. Write a standalone first, and worry about a series later if you have more story to tell. Thanks for commenting! :)
@Tamara Hart Heiner I agree about really successful YA authors. They usually have trilogies. I have read a few standalone novels that have done well for some though. Contemporary's mostly. :)

Chantele Sedgwick said...

@Kristina Fugate That is exactly what happened with my fairy tale book. I wrote the first one and so many things didn't happen that I wanted to happen, so I'm plotting a sequel right now. I love it. 148k draft? Holy crap! :D I'd do a trilogy too! lol
@S.P. Bowers Been there. It's kind of fun writing more than one book though. I tend to love my characters way too much to just write one. :)
@Kelley Vitollo I agree. I do love a good series. There are some that drive me crazy though! lol
@Misha Most of my WIP's are parts of trilogies. Or at least two books. I just can't seem to fit everything I want into one book. You know? :)
@Michelle Merrill I agree about 2 book series. That is what I'm hoping to do with my fairy tale book. :) I'm not sure if I could keep it going for a trilogy! lol I tend to surprise myself though... :)
@Maggie I do get frustrated when everything turns out to be part of a series. I just hate waiting. I hate reading a book and loving it, and finding out the next one won't be out until a year later. Drives me insane!! But I do like them. Obviously. I still keep reading them. ;)
@LynNerd Go you!! Love middle grade. There aren't enough good middle grade books out there. And thanks for following! :D
@Brenda SillsOh, Brenda. You're the coolest! ;)
@L.J. I agree. The book has to keep me interested. Whether it's the first, second or third. If I get bored? I won't keep reading. :P Thanks for stopping by! :)

Melanie Stanford said...

I love series but they can get to be a bit much sometimes (Robert Jordan could have finished his a long time ago but now its up to Brandon Sanderson...)
I can see my book being a 6-book series. More if I let it.

Michelle Davidson Argyle said...

I've never written a series, and I'm not a big fan of them, so I don't myself doing that in the future. However, Cinders did spur on two other novellas that are companions. Does that count? :)