PDA

View Full Version : Why not stand alones?


SFFWorld.com
Home - Discussion Forums - News - Reviews - Interviews

New reviews, interviews and news

New in the Discussion Forum


Pages : [1] 2

Shef
August 6th, 2002, 12:39 PM
Judging by the posts of near many of you, it seems that you all are writing series and not stand alones. Now I have absolutly nothing against trying to start a series but I have to ask. Is it really all that bright to start off with a series? From my perspective it is like this. With every page you write you grow and expand as an author. So if you were to write a six book series number six should be a vast improvement over the first; especially if you had only begun writing. So when it comes time to shop your books around, the first might be unpublishable tripe that no editor will buy, while the later books could not only the publishable, but a blockbuster. So now you have to spend all this time rewriting the first, second, and maybe even the third, or put your hard earned work in a draw to never again see the light of day.

When it comes to stand alones however, you have the opportunity to learn so much more. You still put a lot of world building into your work, and you can leave hooks for a possible expantion or even sequel. But if this is your first serious attempt, it might not be good enough to be published. So you move onto your next concept and gain more experience by crafting a new world, conflict, and characters. So not only will it be much less heart breaking to put aside a single novel rather than a multi-book series, you will also gain more experience from starting from scratch. Or you could try what I would consider one of the harder challenges. Make books that can stand alone and be part of a bigger story arc. It appear to be so difficult no one has tried it.

Now you can also take the best of both realms I suppose. You could create the first of a series and shop it around. But more likely than not, they will want to make sure a newcomer will not just take the first and quit, they will want to see at least three chapters of the second book. I do not have any experience to back this up, but I have read a lot about the subject of publishing. Yes I know that isn't the same as taking it first hand. I have not even writen a novel. I did do all of the outlining, worldbuilding, and even a couple of rough chapters for one only to find out that I am not the writer I want to be to express my idea; yet. So in the meantime I am gaining experience by writing a pseudo serial novel. It is a collection of short stories that can stand alone, or be woven together into a larger story. Very similar to my third idea. Only much smaller and easier to accomplish. These are my arguments, but my question still stand. Why would you want to write a series without even knowing if the beginning novels aer publishable? Thank you in advance, and I apologize for the rant. :)

choppy
August 6th, 2002, 01:12 PM
I've read a similar piece of advice that refers to series writing as "sequelitis." I think the reason a lot of writers adopt this style is simply because it is easy to attack ourselves to the worlds and characters we have created - when a story is finished sometimes we experience a lingering urge to revisit that place which is so dear to us.

Another reason comes from the writer's database of ideas. In the fanstasy and SF genres especially, writers put a great deal of effort into building worlds. To start on a differet project - a writer often has to create something entirely new - new characters, new customs, new politics - everything. In a sequel - all of this is established. A new story can be churned out with limited research and brainstorming.

I think the situation is further complicated by the fact that in fanstasy (and SF to a lesser extent) most successful authors tend to have published series'. From a publisher's point of view I can see why this amy be. Say you have one sucessful book published. The publisher can rely on your name alone to sell your next unrelated novel (besides the merrits of the book iteself), or he can go with what has worked and invest in something that is going to have a guaranteed return. From a business point of view - there may be less risk is publishing a sequel. All of this, of course, relies on the sucess of the first book.

Personally, I'm trying to write as much as I can - even crossing over genres, hoping that eventually I'll put something together that works.

milamber_reborn
August 7th, 2002, 01:18 AM
Shef

Most of my ideas for future books are stand alone. However, my lengthy first novel I wrote last year is part of a trilogy, where only the second in the series directly continues on. It was quite ambitious for a newbie writer, but I had no idea it was gonna end up so long and be part of a series.

I agree with the problem about improving too fast for your books. However, even the best writers are surely improving as they write. I think so long as you stick to your style throughout your series, if the get progressively better, it's a good thing for the reader.

Allso, I'd suggest not writing other stories, or if so only short stories, in between novels in series, to keep the style flowing.

juzzza
August 7th, 2002, 04:26 AM
Shef makes an excellent point.

Although I doubt many authors will send the first book in a series for a publisher's consideration without completely editing it.

I have recently returned to my first book in a (dreaded) trilogy and as it has been about 5 years seince I completed it, I had to improve my grammar, re-write whole scenes and fill plot holes that were not so obvious 5 years ago.

You guys out there with epic series, are you getting short stories published first? Or are you concentrating purely on your series?

milamber_reborn
August 8th, 2002, 12:49 AM
After writing my first novel, I'm trying to get short stories published for cash, before I write book 2.

Aidan Aasarin
August 8th, 2002, 09:03 PM
I have given this very subject much consideration in my writing. many of us, as writers, have poured alot of our imagination into the stories we write and many times have more content than could be realistically bound in one volume. Admittedly, out of fear of turning off an editor to risking a contract on a series that may not sell, I have written an ending to my first novel that brings closure to the current events written while opening the scope of the world around my main character. I can market this book as a stand alone, but I will tell an editor that picks it up my plans for continuation. As to writing short stories between my works, the answer is no. I have too much to say in my current project. The only thing a have done is an outline for another story about a year ago. It hit me as a good story, but as a friend of mine pointed out, it hits too close to what I am working on now. I guess I have to bleed my imagination dry on this series before I can move on to the next piece.

fluffy bunny
November 26th, 2002, 06:23 PM
to be honest, I prefer stand alones - just beacase a story is short, doesn't mean it's bad. The trilogies are good for epics and such, but many just seem like one book padded out over three installments. Ok you need space to flesh out a world, but still...


There's room for one off stories as well as huge epics (which are especially prone to lagging in places and putting all but the dedicated reader off)

(I'm not really one for sequels to be honest- there are good and bad points to a sequel, but generally they tend not to be as fresh as the original- ok you can use the fact the reader has an understanding of the characters and the world by now and use that to help you write, but many people should have said what they were trying to say by the end of the 1st book without waffling).

Valada
November 26th, 2002, 07:58 PM
This point is put forward as an "in addition to" rather than in argument to the previous points... I think it sits alongside the other reasons...

Sometimes a writer can be motivated by cold, hard cash. If you can get a publisher to agree to pick up a trilogy you've written, and people buy all those books, that's 3x the royalties.

This would not (I hope) be an author's primary motivation, or even a major factor, but somewhere in there the cash register bell may softly ring.

Bardos
November 27th, 2002, 02:58 AM
Shef said:
Judging by the posts of near many of you, it seems that you all are writing series and not stand alones. Now I have absolutly nothing against trying to start a series but I have to ask. Is it really all that bright to start off with a series? From my perspective it is like this. With every page you write you grow and expand as an author. So if you were to write a six book series number six should be a vast improvement over the first; especially if you had only begun writing. So when it comes time to shop your books around, the first might be unpublishable tripe that no editor will buy, while the later books could not only the publishable, but a blockbuster. So now you have to spend all this time rewriting the first, second, and maybe even the third, or put your hard earned work in a draw to never again see the light of day.

I think you are saying something very important and very true here. And this counts to all writers: as we write, we become better; with every page we write we better ourselfves. But should this stop some1 from writing a series? I don't think so, if s/he really likes to do it. Recently I've writen a stand-alone 100.000 words novel, in first person, and it just didn't give me the feel I have when I wrote the series before it. At least to me, a series gives you a feel of something more breathing and alive when you write it. Of course, though if you read the 1st book and then the last one, you'll see some diffrence in style; but I don't think that's bad, if the style of the 1st book is still readable and enjoyable.

Now, I'm in the proces of writing a story after the series. It's based on the events of the series, and some1 who has read the series will understand it better, but I try to make it as a stand-alone as I can.

In the end writing shorter stories in the same world can be as fun as writing a series. I always liked the way Clark Ashton Smith writes different stories in the world of Zothique. Nowadays, athors rarely do this, though; I wonder why... It would be fun to explore a world from different novels.

Richardb
November 27th, 2002, 10:18 AM
I recently finished and published the first book in what I intended to become a trilogy. Funny, it just seems that the trilogy is what EVERYONE does, so you find yourself thinking along those lines. However, after putting so much effort into a single story line, after completion I found myself more interested in other stories than in completing the trilogy. So the sequal ends up looking like a single book instead of a trilogy, and after working into it about 8 chapters, I realized that I could have wrapped up the entire story in about 50,000 words if I chose to. The original book is about 110,000 words, so it would have been 160,000 or so to get done all in one.
Next time, I will start a stand alone.