Stories come in all sizes, but the biggest debate is over using a single novel to finish a story or a whole series of novels. Reading and writing are very different things, so while one person may like reading a series, they may prefer writing a standalone. Or vice versa. It also depends on genre. What do we think?
I prefer writing series. That said, there is nothing wrong with standalone stories.
I love exploring the intricacies of a world and its history, cultures, and characters. A series really allows the time to develop these things fully, so I enjoy writing in that context.
Series, in the spirit of long. I’m close to inept at short stories. I think this is both cause and effect. I don’t enjoy short stories; I don’t feel like they give me enough to get emotionally engaged. I feel the same about writing them.
I prefer writing standalone, but some books beg to be continued. And there’s nothing I can do to control that.
Series. I can get attached to characters I create and want to do more with them.
I also very much like the idea of stories that can stand on their own but are connected to one another. If the same concept works equally well as either standalone or connected to another story, I’ll go with the more connected option.
I’m going to sit on the fence and go with both. Most of what I write is standalone. I enjoy that for the fact that I can get lost in it and then it’s done and I can move on to something new. However I do have one series that I also enjoy working on because I get to play in the same universe with the same characters that I’ve come to know very well.
Being that my first novel was a standalone and I’m currently in the process of writing a series, I think I can pretty confidently say that I prefer standalone stories. There’s definitely a chance that I might change my mind in the future, but somehow I really, seriously doubt it. My big problem with the series setup is trying to write the first few chapters of each consecutive book. You spend an entire book building up the story, the world, the characters, and then when you move on to the next book it’s a bit like starting from scratch with no idea what your readers already know. You have to write those first chapters knowing that your readers should already have the gist of what’s going on and don’t want you to spoon-feed a bunch of introduction nonsense to them, but you also have to intricately weave in the most important information just in case time has caused your readers to forget anything integral. It’s a terribly frustrating part of the process, at least in my opinion. I’d much rather have a defined beginning and end, and just have to worry about squeezing all the important stuff in between.
I know I prefer to read series. When I finish a good book, I’m a bit sad that I won’t get to read about those characters any more. However, in a series, I know there’s another book and their story will continue. Some books get me so attached to the characters I don’t want their story to end. Harry, Katniss, every character George R. R. Martin has brought to life and killed. So I would guess I would also prefer to write a series as well. It would give me more time to develop characters, give them added adventure, and a more complex conflict. However, I often find myself writing more towards children – picture book style stories. There are a few series in picture books (i.e. Knuffle Bunny) but I’ve never explored writing and series for children.
Seeing as I’m currently hip-deep in a six-book series, with a list of thirty other possible books in the extended world…I have to say I prefer series! Though I do intend to have some of those thirty-odd related books be standalones within the world, just still be a part of the overall chronology. I seem to have way too many ideas to restrict myself to one book at a time, unless that one book is just following one character (which is also difficult for me).
I can’t decide. Both have their merits. Standalone stories call for less planning than a series, and in that sense are simpler (not that a good story can be simple to create!) but worldbuilding for a series is so much fun. Jasper’s universe has at least a trilogy in it, and I have a fantasy series planned for the future, but the book I’m working on now is a standalone.
I like each for what they offer – series, for the potential to really craft and expound upon a whole new universe and dig into character and plot arcs; standalones, for their simplistic nature boiling down to the “nitty gritty” of a story, so to speak – and, even though I have based my career around my longest and only series, I would have to say I prefer standalones.
They pack a little more punch to me because it essentially forces the focus of the story to shine right from the start. I think, often, series are taken for granted by writers and readers.
Can I say hybrid? I love series. I love reading series. I’m writing series, too. My first series is actually just two books, but part of a larger universe, or in this case, world. I’ll follow that up with a trilogy. There will be future series on that world, but there may also be standalone stories that fit within that world. That’s why I say hybrid. But really, my simple answer would be series. I love to get into the world, get to know the characters, and often characters from different time periods. I like history, so I want to develop the world’s full history.
I have three other series in development, as well. Not one of the books is a standalone. I’ll probably do one in the future, though.
How about you?
As a writer and a reader, which do you prefer, standalone stories or series? Let us know in the comments below.