Monday, May 16, 2016

Series vs. standalone

Do you prefer to write a series or a stand-alone and why?

by Meredith Cole

I wrote my first book, POSED FOR MURDER, with the intention of starting a series. I thought long term. I made my heroine, Lydia McKenzie, single and in her twenties so she and I would have room to grow. I loosely plotted several books, and wrote two more in the series. She changed a little over the course of the three books and started to mature. I learned more about her and so did the reader.

I enjoy reading series, and it's fun not to have to say goodbye to a character. I imagine it's sort of like writing a TV series as opposed to a movie. The story can (and does) go on and on. The characters can grow and change, and the story lines can deepen.

The past couple of years, I've worked on a standalone. It's been a different sort of experience. The characters only need to exist and live during the book itself. I don't have to worry what I'll do with them in the next book if they have a child or get married or whatever. I could take risks that I never would have dared to do in a series. But when I got to the end, that was truly the end. Which got me to thinking about what would happen if it were the start to a series... Which makes me understand why so many writers start series when they finish a book. They miss the characters too much when the book is finished.

So which do I prefer?

I think I enjoy mixing it up. The next two books I'm planning are the start to a new series and then another standalone. And then I'll probably write another short story. And hopefully whatever I prefer, standalone or series, will be exactly what I'm writing at that moment.


Paul D. Marks said...

From a writer's pov I think it's good to mix things up between series books and standalones. And, as a reader, I like both. But...also as a reader it's comfortable to go back to a character you know and like. Still, as both reader and writer, it's good to change things up sometimes.

Meredith Cole said...

I felt a little wishy-washy saying both, Paul! But it is fun to mix things up.

Catriona McPherson said...

I wish I had the nerve to write an unchanging series character - like Hercules or Miss M. does anyone do that now?

Don McDermott said...

I invariably turn everything I write into a series, whether I planned it like that from the beginning or not. I think it's because I write only mystery books, which are easier to turn into series than other genres of books. Also, my books are very character-driven, so I get very attached to my characters and they additionally develop even more than in plot-driven books, and as such they keep me interested both as a reader and an author.

Susan C Shea said...

I thought I was writing a stand-alone two years ago, but my agent said it would be an easier sell as a series,, I'm struggling with one bit of the shift: a suspect in book one must reappear in book two. Hmmm, maybe I just hope people read in order?