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Series or Stand Alone? Reader or Writer?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Do you enjoy reading a series or do you grow easily bored? Do you like contemporary novels or historical? What's your favorite genre? If you are a writer what do you prefer to write and what do you prefer to read? In this crazy world we live in where are you going to spend your money when you have time to relax? Will it be a book or some other type of activity you enjoy? Can you tell I've been thinking, a lot? I want to know what you think, too.

I went snooping on other blogs to try and answer some questions for myself as a writer who will very soon be completing the third book in my Ravensmoore Chronicles which will probably release in May of 2013. Chameleon releases in May this year. Do I want to write another series? Should I try to expand this one? Should I try writing stand alone novels for awhile? These are things I will have to decide at sometime with help from my agent. So while your are thinking about these questions here are some ideas I discovered from others out there in cyber space.

The Bookshelf Muse asked this same question related to YA. She has some interesting comments.
Here's a look at this question from Book Worms at Goodreads.

And James Scott Bell discusses Going Deeper With A Series Character. Maybe it's the deeper angle that is so enjoyable with a series. As writers we get the chance to explore and as readers we get the opportunity to find out more about what makes certain characters tick.

Some interesting views here at Fantasy & SciFi Lovin' News & Reviews
Good thoughts at eBookworm too, Is the Stand_Alone Novel a Lost Art?

I've been scanning my bookshelf and I just got hooked on another series. This one by C.S. Harris who has lured me into her Sebastian St. Cyr Mysteries. I love to read and write novels set during the Regency era and Harris has an awesome character in Sebastian. I would have been deeply disappointed if she hadn't written more books after What Angels Fear. These novels are fascinating because Harris has used her degrees in history and her non-fiction work regarding the French Revolution to bring her characters to life in a way that makes me want to visit them again and again. Harris has more experience than me and more books, but she's come closest to doing with Sebastian what I've done with Ravensmoore. The fact that she's written past book three makes me wonder if  I should do this with my characters? I'm writing historical romance with strong mystery/suspense elements.

Then of course all those critical issues like sales, reader interest, etc., come into play.

So whether you're a reader, a writer, or both, what do you think? Are you a series reader or do you prefer stand alone? And if you could only pick one, what would it be? Thanks for helping me explore this idea. I really want to hear from you.


  1. When reading, I don't mind either stand alone or series. My favourites are Stephen King's The Dark Tower series and Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles. The only thing with reading a brand new series is the wait for the next installment to be published. If it's a good read then the wait could be worthwhile, but then you find yourself striving to remember everything from the last books. Not that it's much of an issue. Once you start reading, things fall back into place.

    As a writer, I feel more content writing fantasy, but I have so many different stories to tell, and these stories involve different characters. So do I write a long running fantasy series? No. Instead I write stand alone stories that are based in the same fantasy world. This way I get to explore the furthest and darkest crevices of the world I've created without running characters to the ground. It also saves the hard work of creating a brand new world with every story.

    This style is still called a series, right???

  2. Perfect post for me! Very timely! I am writing book one in a seven book series, so this information helps me.

    Going deeper is what I'd like to do with my main character.

    Can't wait to visit the links for more tips!


  3. I've intentionally read (and looked forward to) a series only twice in my entire life - one was Harry Potter. Ten years of waiting to find out if Harry lived or died reaffirmed my stance as a stand alone reader. I prefer seeing how everything wraps up. I like seeing how an idea or concept plays out, or how a character grows and triumphs. Because, of course, the good guys always win.

  4. Hi DRC,
    You said, "Instead I write stand alone stories that are based in the same fantasy world." I don't see that as a series myself. I understand using the same fantasy world because of all the work that goes into it. But if I continue to write in the Regency era but use different characters then that would be a different book. If I chose to expand what is happening in those characters' lives then that would be a series.

    Does that make sense? I'm not the expert on fantasy so I'm not sure if writers in that genre would consider what you're describing as a series. Now that that's clear as mud I can also see where readers get impatient for the next book in a series. If it's not ready when they want it will they forget about it?

    My books are all coming out a year apart. I hope that doesn't put readers off. I appreciate your thoughtful comments on this subject.

  5. Hi Ruth,
    I'd love to know how you chose 7 books as the number for your series. Glad this is a post that might be helpful. Good timing helps!

  6. Hi Donna,
    What was the other series? You can't leave me hanging here not knowing. :) There seems to be a lot of series out there that are 3 books. I wonder if there is some kind of theory around that or if it just works better for sales. I just thought of Sherlock Holmes. I love Sherlock so I don't know why I didn't think of Conan Doyle. Now there is a character who I enjoy so much that he actually seems like he should be real. But Sherlock Holmes never changed enough in his character arc for me, and I like to see that deep ongoing change.

  7. I love series if I'm attached to the characters, it's great to go on a longer journey with them. But I do hate cliffhanger enders...a few unanswered questions are ok but the last Diana Gabaldon book made me want to hurl it out the window. Of course, i'll still happily read her next one :)

  8. Lila,
    You make me smile. I love Gabaldon's books. I have to admit though that I haven't had the time to indulge since Drums of Autumn, I think that was it. She's such a talented author. Sounds like she really wants her readers to read the next one, but that would push me over the edge too. Thanks for your input.

  9. JIllian,
    I like them both. I checked my book shelves and discovered there are more single titles than series. That being said, I've had series where I couldn't wait for the next book as well as single title authors whose books I've waited impatiently for. Karen Marie Moning has a Fever seeries dealing with Celtic magic that I love, but at the same time I have purchased every Barbara Michaels single title book I have found. There's room for both on my shelves. Since I know you are trying to figure out which way to go next, I'd say consider whether or not you are still in love with your current family of characters.

  10. Hey there, Ms. Castle,
    I am still very much in love with my characters, but that doesn't mean I should keep writing about them or does it? :)I guess I need to consider writing up a couple proposals after I turn in book 3, talking to Rachelle about career planning and see what happens next. Also, it might be wise at some point to ask readers what they would like. Of course that might not be the only thing to consider. Thanks for sharing, Catherine.