Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Series or Stand Alone's

Obviously the first in any series has to be stand alone right? I get that, but so many times the second in the series is more like a bridge to the third. And I hate waiting at the end of that bridge for the next in the series. 




Here's the problem I'm having right now. I just got the third book in two separate series I had read last year. I've read so many books since then that I can't remember what happened in the first two. 


And so far, the story that I'm currently reading isn't interesting enough for me to want to finish. Gasp! How can that be? Well, it's just gone way far away from the original story. It's like things are happening that I didn't know were possible. 


Here's my question. Do you think series are all they're cracked up to be? They're more popular now then they have ever been (at least I think they are). I used to love getting into a series, but lately I feel like the second is usually stretching the story to the action in the third book. And then over time I get lost. Does this happen to you?


What do you like to write? Personally, I've written two books that start two different series and one stand alone. In fact, my favorite kind of series is one that moves the story forward but in a different persons perspective. Like the Books of Bayern by Shannon Hale. 


Which do you like to read and which do you write? Also, how do you feel about series and stand alone's?

18 comments:

  1. I enjoy a series when it is meant to be a series. I know that sounds dumb, but the truth is that far too many series grow out of the success of the first book. I don't like reading this kind of series. However, if the author writes a series because the story is too much to put into one book, I usually end up enjoying them. I guess you could break it down this way: I like a series if each book has its own goal and story that happens to advance the over-all plot of the series. A really good example of this is Harry Potter.

    Now, in my own writing, I often start out envisioning a series but, as I begin to outline and write, I realize that I really only have enough material for one book. It's kind of sad, because I don't want the story to end, but I'm not going to force a story that isn't there (if you know what I mean).

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  2. I like series, but like you, I tend to not enjoy the second books as well. They seem to drag. Or make me mad. I really like books with just one sequel. Then I only have to wait for ONE book after I read the first one, instead of two. As for my writing, I tend to stick to two books in my series. ;) Or stand alones.

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  3. I think that stand alones are nice because you can just finish the darn book and not wonder what in the world comes next. But, if a series is well done then it is all worth it. Especially if the stories are a contiunation but in a different way, like Goose Girl, or Harry Potter.

    SO far the Paranormalcy series has been a hit with me, because the second book was great.

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  4. I used to really enjoy reading series, but lately I feel like the stories are cut off really abruptly in the second book, or the second book is really nothing at all. It's getting so hard to find good stand alones, especially in fantasy and adventure, and even the books that I think will be singletons end up having sequels once I get to the end. It's pretty frustrating. I write trilogies usually, but I always try to have an even amount of action and plot development in each installment.

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  5. I've found that a lot of series second book, leave a lot to be desired. But there are others that I like the second better, because the author really found their groove with the characters by book 2. I think the biggest question is, did the story really need 3 books, or did they just make it that way because the publisher wanted it. When J.K. Rowling sat down, she knew that it would be 7 books. 7 years in school, and she had enough story to fill 7 books.

    I've finished the 1st, in what I want to be a trilogy, and I'm toying with the idea of writing the 2nd more as a companion novel, with a different cast of characters, but in the same world. Then having book 3, tie all the characters together.

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  6. I like series, but I think your right. Not all starting books are stand alones, but most are. I think what I like is being so involved in the characters that I just can't get enough of them, like in the Maxium Ride series, I may not remember everything that happened in all the books, but I do remember what I like and don't like about the characters!

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  7. If the series is necessary and well done, then yes, I love series! But when they're dragged on just for the sake of being a series, when the story could have gotten to the point and been told in one or two books, that's when series(ez-I feel like there should be something more here to make it plural lol) drive me crazy! I never mean for my stories to be longer than one book, but by the time I finish something I realize there's more to it than what I just finished! So this one I'm querying now is actually a stand-alone, but I keep getting conversations and ideas for another one. I know that agents like the first book in a series to be able to stand by itself-they want to make sure they can sell one before prepping for a whole series, I guess.

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  8. I never write series, but there are some I like. Once or twice, I've found a series where I liked the first book, but when I read the rest, I decided I didn't like any of them, including the first one that I thought I liked. I think that is the danger of series.

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  9. I sometimes like to read a series. If I loved the first book, I'll sometimes check out any others, but I have to admit that I don't always end up reading the next in a series. I've had the same disappointments with a second book. I think trilogies are especially popular right now.

    As for my own writing, I always plan the first book as a complete standalone. I had a trilogy idea for one of my books, but I didn't write them.

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  10. I agree with Reece, too many books are forced into a series when the author never meant them to be. I enjoy a series that was meant to be one from the start. That said, I hate waiting for the next book in the series! I had to read The Name of the Wind again in order to read book 2, A Wise Man's Fear. Not that I didn't enjoy it a second time :)

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  11. I love series, the reason being that if you loved the first book, then you have several more books that you know you'll love. The only thing is that sometimes the series progressively gets worse. Or sometimes the first book is terrible.

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  12. As a rule, I prefer stand-alones. Like you mentioned, the second books in trilogies (or series) almost always feel like a sagging middle. They rarely make me want to purchase the third book when it eventually comes out. A few exceptions I can think of: Catching Fire (The Hunger Games Trilogy), Desires of the Dead (The Body Finder series), and It's Not Summer Without You (The Summer I Turned Pretty Trilogy).

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  13. I LOVE me some series. :) I actually prefer ones that follow the same chaacters--granted, if the author simply rewrites the same book over and over... it will grow old, fast. I want characters to grow, stakes to get raised, etc.

    I started my young adult with the intention of writing ONE book. Yeah..it didn't end up happening. As someone mentioned above, I found out I had too much story for one book. I'm not sure how many books this story will be in the end, but I do know I intend to push things as far as I can possibly go with each book. Raise those stakes and try to keep it new and fresh for my readers. Here's hoping. lol

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  14. Oh, I loved hearing everyone's opinions! Sorry I didn't comment earlier, it's the hubs birthday and he's been home sick. But thanks everyone for stopping by!

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  15. I like series that are done correctly but I hate the ones that are obviously afterthoughts.

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  16. I love series, and I love the anticipation of that next one. And yeah, while some sequels don't live up, a lot for me have superceded their predecessors - usually happens when I'm in love with the characters as much as I am the story.

    Great post!

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  17. Excellent question!

    There are a few series that I LOVE, but I don't actively seek them out. What drives me nuts is when the first book is left wide open to make plot space for book 2, when it COULD have been a really strong standalone. And I'm not talking about cliffhangers. I can be okay with those (for example, Catching Fire). I'm talking about lazy, all-out not-finishing-the-story. What's wrong with a powerhouse standalone, I ask you? I love standalones. I miss them, especially (as J pointed out) in fantasy or adventure.

    When I write, I don't plan on multiple stories for one set of characters. Or, at least, I haven't before. The only way I can see my current WiP becoming a series is if the ONE story I'm telling turns out to be too big for ONE book. It *feels* like a standalone, though. But maybe that's just because I want to be different. :)

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