Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Sequels, Series, & Stand Alones—What's a Girl to Do?
Anyway. . . the main thing I wanted to discuss this morning was the issue of sequels, series, and stand-alone novels. What do you as a reader prefer?
Personally, I'm a fan of stand-alone books. I think the creation and completion of a plot between the covers of one novel is an art form, and I love the thrill of working my way to a satisfying ending that blows me away. However, I completely get the joy of a series. Being able to continue a journey with beloved characters is also extremely gratifying, and I understand why both readers and publishers eat up sagas that stretch throughout several books.
On the one hand, waiting an entire year for a story isn't a bad skill to learn in our modern world of on-demand entertainment. My eleven-year-old daughter isn't always the most patient person in the world, but even she can handle the suspense of a year's wait for a book. However, if I'm personally not bowled over by the first installment of a series, I often won't seek out the second book—and I'm left with no ending. I suppose that's the gamble involved in a series: you keep devoted readers, but you risk others falling by the wayside (others who might grumble about a lack of an ending).
As far as writing books go, I've been told that you don't want to necessarily sit down and write a series. Write the first book with a potentially open ending, see if editors like it, and, at most, have an outline of ideas for further installments.
My book that's currently out with publishers is a stand-alone novel. It contains a definite ending. Here's the problem, though: my main character won't get out of my head. I think she wants me to tell more of her story. She and I are a little at odds with another right now. I've told her my opinions about the stand-alone novel as an art form, but she's a stubborn character and doesn't necessarily want to listen to my lofty views of literature.
We'll see what happens. Perhaps her story will continue. Maybe I'll play around with an outline and see if the ideas are worth pursuing. For now, I'm reading both stand-alone novels and multi-book series and hoping the endings either leave me breathless for more or end with an unforgettable bang.