Standalone vs Series
As I have stated in an earlier post, the internet has changed the face of research for all; for the better in most regards. However there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Lately, I’ve been suffering from information overload without a clear answer to my questions to ease my mind.
Many of you already know I’m in the midst of writing a series that’s following my character, Danielle. I’m excited by her growth and different experiences she has in her future as I continue to write the third installment of my Changes series. But of course, as in all things in life that matter to you, doubt is sure to follow in the shadows ready to jump out at you when you least expect it. Don’t get me wrong, I love my novels’ concepts and direction 150%. I even have solid ideas for another series after I finish Danielle’s journey…
And right about there is where my doubt lies. Should I write a whole other series? Or should I concentrate on making a killer standalone instead?
I already know what most of you are thinking. It’s most likely the same as my family and friends would tell me as well. They would just tell me to write what’s in my head and heart. That's sound advice, but I wanted a solid yes or no, do or don’t answer to my query. Not the grey zone freely wishy-washy spiel I usually give to everyone. So the internet had to have the hard factual truth for me to consume and make my own, right?
Yeah, that turned out to be a big negative. If anything, I came out to be more confused after my research fest than I was before it. I did come away with some knowledge though. Since I’m currently writing a series, I’ll start there.
From what I read, I realized that perhaps the biggest plus to a series, for the reader and myself, is that it’s comforting. Okay, I’ll be the first to admit what’s happening to Danielle is anything but “comforting”. But if I did my job correctly, her mere being and finding out what will happen to her next would be like catching up with an old friend with loads of drama to share. A good character is hard to let go of, at least for me.
Of course, every pro comes with a con. My biggest fear is the dreaded backstory issue. What if a person discovers me at the second installment instead of the first? Can the reader pick up a book in the middle of the series and get enough backstory for it to make sense? With my series I guess they could, but sooo much cool stuff would be lost. No, no, no you must start from the beginning! (Sorry, my control-freak fairy can be an issue at times.) All jokes aside, I do worry about that issue of middle ground reading. So much so that I decided to include the first novel in my second novel giveaway. That’s going to become pretty pricey for me by book four, isn’t?
Another possible problem is that writing a series means that every installment must be as good as or better than the last one. Can we say pressure? There’s no repeating of a theme, unless you want to lose your readers, and stay far away from cookie cutter plots (the kiss of death). Your readers must come away feeling their appetite for the next adventure is sated, and that they can’t wait for their next meal.
Lastly, what if your readers think the series goes along its merry way too long? What if the protagonist keeps falling into the same old traps of drama time and time again? Basically becoming stale before the story is finished being told… An author’s nightmare.
Now onto the standalone. I've personally never written one, yet. However from what I have read the advantage of writing one, especially if you are known as a series author, is it can bring on a breath of fresh air for me and the reader. The building blocks of my story should always be solid, but a standalone has more wiggle room than a series. What I mean by that is the only facts you need to keep straight are in that one book, instead of the plethora of words, thoughts, and ideas a series will have. I can see how that could be freeing in a way. That would also make you more likely to experiment with your standalone story more than you would for series.
The only drawback that I noticed is when it’s over it’s over. However everything has to come to an end. Standalones just get there faster.
Like I said in the beginning of this post, even though the information I garnered was good to know. I’m still no closer to a solid way to go on this. So it looks as if I’ll just have to write from my head and heart and tell the story the way I feel it. Yeah, yeah keep your “I told you so” to yourselves (smiling at the computer). Happy Thursday everyone!