Tuesday, October 18, 2011

On series and stand alones


How do you plan a series? Do you know when you start writing that you're going to continue the story? Or are you like me and write your first book and realize you have more story to tell?

My first book was a stand alone. Although, I want to re-write it and I have an idea for a companion novel to go with it. Not a sequel though. Those characters have had their fun. Someday I'd like to torture their children. ;) That sounds morbid, but I swear it's not! lol

Let's skip my second book and head to my third. I wanted it to be a stand alone. When I got to the end, the story kept going. Kept calling me. So, someday I'll write a sequel to it. Because those characters have more to go through. More story to tell.

My fourth book I really wanted to be a series, but I put it away for a while. You all probably remember BOUND. The one I had a really hard time writing. It's on the back burner and I may or may not go back to it.

My fifth, I started as a stand alone. I had no intention to turn it into a series. But, like my third, I realized there was more story to tell when I finished. I'd love to visit that world again after I finish editing it. And after it hopefully sells. Maybe. You just never know. I've actually never started a sequel. I've outlined a few...(as far as my outlining goes...) but I want to make sure the first book sells before I start writing a sequel. Maybe that's stupid of me, but oh well.

My sixth book I'm working on right now, well, I'm only at 5000 words, so I have no idea if it will be a series or not. Right now, I'll say no. But, that usually changes judging by my other books I've written. HA! :)

So, how do you decide if you want to write a stand alone or a series? I'm curious!

28 comments:

Reece said...

I used to want to write series all the time, but I've come to the conclusion that it's better to write an awesome stand-alone than a so-so series. The more I write, the more I realize that my stories are really more stand-alone scale. Maybe someday I'll have enough experience to write a really good series, but for now I'm sticking to stand-alone.

Abby said...

I try to know if it will be a series or a stand alone when I start but like you... sometimes thing happen where they book calls and the story wants to keep going.

I do hope that you won't leave BOUND on the back burner for good. It is a great book, but I know sometimes they need some "away" time. I am working through INBETWEEN and loving it!

Michelle Merrill said...

I like to think that my book will be a stand alone when I start it. Sometimes it turns into a series and sometimes the book ends well. But the one fantasy world I created that is a stand alone is calling me. Not the character's, but the world. I hope to write another book in that world...after I touch up the first and really finish discovering the world.

And, by the way, since I got sucked into reading Inbetween last night, I am now sending all my blogging friends your way to be entertained :) My awesome post will have to come next week...after I've finished your book!

Sarah Pearson said...

So far, everything I've written has been stand-alone. I'm open to change though :-)

Raquel Byrnes said...

I usually come up with a sort of concept to tie them all together, but write stand alone books with characters making 'guest appearances' like in my first series where all the titles had a color in them.

Its hard to know if your story will extend to other books though. Thats a toughie.
Edge of Your Seat Romance

Jenny S. Morris said...

My first is a stand alone. And my 2nd I started writing as a stand alone, but then I realized how many characters I wanted there to be. It's a tiny bit like X-men or Avengers where if I introduced all the characters it would be overwhelming. I'm still tossing around ideas for the 2nd book in the series. I'm like you. I'd really like the 1st to sell before I start on the 2nd.

Patti said...

My first book is a series, but the next two are stand a lone after I realized how hard it is to write a series.

Carol Riggs said...

Haha, torturing their children. ;o) It does seem like every "big" book these days that is published is the first of a series. Or has a sequel. I wrote mine as a standalone, but I worked up a sequel idea just in case. I do prefer to read/write standalones! Have fun with yours!

E. Arroyo said...

I know how I want to end it before I write it, but I'm not a fan of happy endings and so the book goes on a different journey towards the end.

Angela Cothran said...

When I started writing my story, I planned it to be a stand alone. But as I wrote I realized that to do the story justice I needed to make it a series. I was actually pretty mad about it, because I wanted just one book in a nice little neat package. But do we ever get what we want--no :)Now I can't imagine it any other way. Great post :)

Cortney said...

It's the same for me. I never really "plan" on having my books be parts of a series, but then I finish one and realize I'm not done telling their story, that they're still talking in my head and I have more to write about them! Writing sequels is hard, though. I've tried outlining a few, but I'm sure things will change once I really get into the story!
And six books, go you!

Miss Cole said...

My story turned into a trilogy during the writing of the first book. It will work as a stand-alone, but there were always so many openings for more to be told.

Now I just have to keep very, very good notes ;)

Kayeleen Hamblin said...

So far, my books are companion stories, written in the same world with a recurring character that shows up in each of the books. The story isn't about her specifically, but she plays a role in each one.

I have ideas for books that would make great series, if I could flesh them out enough, but I haven't written them yet, so we'll see.

Kathryn said...

I'm planning on NaNo-ing the second book in a series, and one thing that helped me prepare my outline for book two was making notes as I was writing book one about what could happen next. Just like how we need to think about the back story of a novel, we should always think ahead and have a rough idea of what conflicts could happen once we've written THE END for book one. If we then write book one accordingly, there will be a lot of elements we can take from the first book to use later in the second.

Well, that's how it's helped me with my outline, anyway. Talk to me in mid-November and you'll probably get a very different answer. :)

E.R. King said...

I know to write a series when my characters aren't finished their journey. Simple, but true.

Mel Fowler said...

I think it depends on your personal preferance. With my story, I was just going to do a stand alone, but then I found that other characters want their story told.

So I am going to write a companion book.

But my other MG book will be a series of short stories.

I dont know how I figured this. Triolgy's are nice but I like stand alone books better.

Jessica Hill said...

I usually just know if something is going to be a standalone or a series before I start working on it. Only with the last last novel I wrote did I run into that "there's more story to tell" feeling and got an idea for a sequel. I do have a couple ideas for trilogies, although for one of those, the other two books would be more companions than sequels. And, I'm so with you! I don't want to start writing sequels unless the first book sells.

Maggie said...

I'm the opposite of you, I had planned on a series, but now I'm not so sure. Unfortunately sales numbers and things like that play a lot more into if something gets to be a series than I ever knew.

The next three I've all wanted to stand alone and so far I don't have any ideas for series.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

My books ended up being a series because halfway into the first one, I could see four other characters with stories to tell. I created outlines for four more before I even finished the first. I did write them so a reader could start at any point and not felt left out or confused.
If I ever write fiction again though, it will be just one book.

Stephanie McGee said...

Being a pantser-plotter, I generally know going into it if it's a standalone or a trilogy. I've just finished the first draft of book 1 of a new trilogy. But I do have one standalone with the ideas for what I'd write as follow-up books that deal with the same mythology/created world and some crossover characters but individual stories.

It really just depends on what the plot does, where it goes as I write out my rough outline. That tells me what I need as far as how many books.

Shallee said...

I don't know if I'll ever be able to write a series. I've attempted a companion book to my first novel (ended up scrapping it), planned a trilogy for my second novel (which would be awesome, and about as far as I could probably go), and have an idea for a companion novel for my current WIP. Mostly, I'm a standlone kinda girl, though. I tend to prefer standalones as a reader, so I think that influences my writing decisions.

I also have six bajillion other ideas I want to write. :)

Jeigh said...

I wrote my first draft as a stand-alone, but then realized there were a lot more things I wanted to include, so it's turned into a trilogy. I think writing a strong stand-alone is more important than writing a weak trilogy, though.

Melanie Jacobson said...

So I have four books written as stand alones but in two of them, people have begged me for follow ups on characters. So I've found a way to tell new stories with slightly familiar characters where the spin offs work as stand alones too. And now maybe will stop bugging me about what happened to those characters!

Jessie Oliveros said...

I feel like most of my books are one-book ideas. Also, I have a hard time reading sequels, no matter how much I liked the first. However, I can see my current MG book being more than one book but not necessarily a "sequel" to the first.

Stacy Henrie said...

Most of my stuff is stand alone. My third book I was pretty sure was just a stand alone, but then I got an idea for a companion novel - centering on of the character's sisters. I like giving a minor character his/her own story this way.

Peggy Eddleman said...

That was so much fun to read about how your books stack up in the stand-alone / series category.

For me, I always want them to be sequels, because I like books with sequels, I guess. My last book I didn't have the series planned out ahead of time-- those I outlined AFTER I finished, following some existing threads and adding extras to leave open. The one I'm writing right now has a loose outline for three.

Chantele Sedgwick said...

Sorry guys! I haven't had any time to respond to each individual comment the past few nights. But I promise I'm reading them! And visiting your blogs! :)

Jennifer said...

Wow, that's a good question. For me, it's a unique experience. I tend to outline my stories before writing them but it's a sort of general outline. Nothing too specific. But in that process I tend to think about my characters so much, that by the time I start writing, a stand alone will not be enough for everything I have to say about them, haha.

But, I do like my stand alone novels. But they are a challenge for me. I think I'm just more series oriented. I like the idea of new beginnings and new character developments that were not originally fore-saught at the beginning of the story.