1. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    Anyone who does NOT write a trilogy/series?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Tesoro, Jun 8, 2012.

    Lately it seems that everyone especially on the plot development forum writes or at least plan to write a trilogi or a series.
    I don't understand this, why is everybody so obsessed with series of books? It seems to be a very common thing among aspiring writers
    and I wonder why. I can't hardly even remember when I last picked up a book from a series. Is this a general preference among readers of books too or is it specific for a certain age group? Do the average reader prefer series and following the same mc through several books?
    I feel like the only one on here who doesn't plan a series of books or even like to read them.
     
  2. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    I think a lot of writers are attracted to the idea of a series because of Harry Potter/Twilight/LOTR/etc. New and aspiring writers dream of writing the next big series that will net them bucketloads of cash, and fame comparable to Rowling/Meyer/Tolkein/etc.

    As for series' popularity with readers, I'm unsure. True, there's certainly a market given the number of them that are around, but that could be as much to do with the aggressive marketing as an actual desire for sagas. As a reader (and, actually, as a writer) I much prefer stand alone novels. I've gone right off the idea of a story spread across multiple volumes, which I would have to pay for, when the majority of times they're just padded out to fit the desired format. I think there's much more to admire about an author who can write a single, tight and focused novel without padding or dross, than someone who can ramble on without end. Fantasy writers, I find, are particularly guilty on that score (I'm looking at you George R.R. Martin and Robert Jordan -- the latter of whom even death couldn't stop!), though it's far from a monopoly.

    So yes, Tesoro. You're far from alone on this, though I do sense that we may be outnumbered. I don't think I'll be writing a series any time soon.
     
  3. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I do enjoy series in the sense that, once I've grown attached to a character, I enjoy to continually read about them. Say, the Wallander novels by Mankell. I was rather sad to hear that he's done with the Wallander novels.

    But I don't really care if something is a series or not. I enjoy them but I don't look for them. However, most recently I've wanted to start reading the Game of Thrones and I've been utterly put off by the sheer size of the series - the fact that books 3 and 5 are in 2 parts, I mean, c'mon! How can something be this long!? I'm not a huge fan of mammoth sized books - so despite being a fantasy writer, I am actually often too lazy to read fantasy books because it takes a long time to get into their world, which I can't be bothered doing, they're often about the same stuff (chosen one, epic war, conflict or divisions or massacres of some sort) and here's the key thing - they're always way too long. For me, 300-500 pages is quite enough. But fantasy books are often 800+ pages and the font is miniscue.

    I'm not really writing a series - it was always going to be a stand-alone book - but I think I might have created a series accidentally because the solution to my main conflict opens up a new can of worms. This genuinely wasn't planned. It's not fame or money or "I wanna be like Rowling!" - it was a complete accident and I'm still having a headache about how to close this stupid can of worms up!
     
  4. Cassiopeia Phoenix
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    Cassiopeia Phoenix Contributing Member

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    Nah... I'm not up for a series either. It's more than I can chew -- especially because I just have tons of ideas for new novels and I want to write them and if I were to write a series who the hell knows when I will be able to write down all my ideas.

    The idea of writing a famous series sounds like a good idea for most people but not for me, though.
     
  5. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    I can sort of understand this, but I do think that most series like that tend to go on too long. Although it can be sad to bring something to an end, it's usually worse to let it drag on for too long. It happens with TV series, film series, and yes book series too.

    I've had similar worries about A Song of Ice and Fire. I've really enjoyed the TV adaptation, but the sheer size of the books is intimidating. And it's less the size, than my serious suspicion that it could be significantly pared down and only improve the story. I just thing that series tend towards the verbose, with writers seeing little benefit in brevity.
     
  6. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I think many writers, especially young ones, like the idea of writing a series because it's easier than writing individual, stand-alone novels. You build one world and get to set many books in it. You create one set of characters and reuse them in many books.

    Writing a series also seems to me to be very self-indulgent. Some people talking about their series on this forum have been building their worlds and characters since they were young children, and they're very much in love with them. But do they really think adult readers, or even YA readers, will be much interested in worlds and characters created by children? It's hard to imagine that kind of material being challenging enough for a more mature mind. But such considerations aren't important to the writer; damn the torpedoes, he's going to write the series he's been dreaming of all his life. There's nothing really wrong with that, except the realities of the publishing world Cogito keeps pointing out.

    I'm currently working on a loosely-interconnected group of science-fiction short stories, but I don't really regard these as a series. All of my other stories, and the novel ideas I have, are all stand-alone works.
     
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  7. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    Very well put, minstrel. Self-indulgence seems to be the defining feature of many would-be series authors. I also think that, in many cases, it's simply that people aren't very good at ending stories, so seek to sidestep it entirely.
     
  8. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    It had never occurred to me to write a series, and as a reader, if a book is part of a series, that makes me hesitate in picking it up initially. I like the books I read to be self-contained, and I have such a long to-read list that to commit to a series of books takes away that many more slots from other books I want to read. Also, I have more of a fear that series with the same characters tend to contain more books that I think of as 'just add water' novels -- stories that I think are cliche, unoriginal, formulaic and with underdeveloped characters and common plots. (And those are the published novels -- some of which are quite successful. Often times, I'm wrong, and despite the fact that a book or books are part of a series, they turn out to be wonderful. But any book in a series has to overcome that initial barrier with me.)

    That said, I've ended up doing what I never expected. I'm working on a third novel, and all three of my novels involved the same characters. I don't know whether I really consider them a series -- although they have the same characters, they are written from different character's POV, and each book is entirely stand alone. I got the ideas for the other two after writing the first which was always planned as and fully intended to be a stand alone novel,which I believe it still is. But each novel kind of came as a surprise -- while I was writing each one I never thought I'd be writing a next book with the same characters.

    My bigger question in these forums, more than whether everyone is writing a series, is: Is there anyone NOT writing YA or Fantasy/Sci Fi or YA Fantasy? I feel like everywhere, even with the writers IRL, everyone's writing one of those. Curious if anyone is writing contemporary adult literary fiction.
     
  9. Church9832
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    Church9832 New Member

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    I think a series or 'trilogy' is written because the writer has more to tell of the story. IMO, a writer would constantly think about the story they just finished in one book, All the what ifs or what they left out that needs continuation. The Money factor is there but writers tend to have the want to continue their stories till they have nothing more to tell.
     
  10. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I am not sure that's true with all, or even the majority of authors, and even aspiring authors. If conclusions are being drawn mainly from participation in this forum, I'm not sure how accurate of a total picture is given.

    Some of my favorite authors write series, or trilogies. Steven Brust, Michael Moorcock, Stephen R. Donaldson, Harry Turtledove, John Ringo, Roger Zelazny. Even Tom Clancy has returning characters. That isn't to say that those authors can't or won't write standalone novels, because they have.

    With me, my first novel was written as a standalone, but there was room for more story to be told. My publisher desired a second 'in the series,' and many readers did. I wrote the second to stand alone, yet compliment the first novel (so that a reader could pick up the 2nd and read it in isolation, or someone who read the first would equally enjoy the 2nd).

    Another aspect, especially with fantasy and SF, is that a lot of time, effort and creativity has gone into creation of a world where the first story took place. Why not re-use what has already been successfully constructed?

    While I have a SF novel out on submission elsewhere (and yes, it could be expanded into a series if desired), I am writing the third novel in my fantasy series. Maybe it's self indulgent. Maybe I don't want to end the story and seek to sidestep the prospect. But maybe I just have what I believe is yet another good story to tell with in the same world with some of the same characters involved in the plot. Maybe (and hopefully) there are readers that desire the same thing--if I write it well enough.

    I do think that an aspiring writer planning an entire series before the first novel is completed may be jumping the gun more than a bit. They should focus on getting that first novel published, as a standalone, and then worry about a series. I didn't even begin the second in my series until the first had sold. The only draw back was that it delayed the release of the second while I figured out how to write the second as a standalone, yet complementing the first, and then write it--and then go through the rest of the publishing process. If' I'd have had it ready and handy, it'd have been a year or less between releases instead of two.

    One final thought is 'branding'. An author's name, once established, can make a difference in attracting readers. But a name and the name of a series can be more effective than either in isolation.
     
  11. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I think there's also a fame factor involved. The authors that develop a name typically those who publish more than one book. There is a natural tendency to reuse characters and settings in a second book, if for no other reason than it cuts down on the effort.

    To be fair, though, a second book with the same characters allows the writer to more deeply explore those characters.

    Furthermore, readers who liked the first book will enjoy seeing familiar elements in the next novel.

    However, the new writer who tries to create a series from the outset does not write as well. There is an inherent conflict between creating a single complete novel and creating the first act of three or four. Purposely leaving an incomplete story arc while closing the principal arc is too great a challenge for a writer who also has to break into the business.

    Publishers don't want a series lead-in from a new writer. It's a bigger risk, whether the book itself is successful or not. If the book tanks, there is still pressure because the story is clearly incomplete, but it;s not good business to compound a commercial loss. If the book is successful, the author could receive offers from other publishers for follow ups, and they cannot count on loyalty over a lure of more money and a wider distribution from a bigger publisher.

    Also, many new writers quit after the first book, because they underestimated the work that goes into a novel, or because they just don't have it in them to write more than one big story.

    When a publisher has enough confidence in an author to sign a multi-book contract, it;s a whole new kettle of fish. For the reasons above (reader affinity to familiar characters, etc) the publisher may specifically look for more books connected to a successful novel, or may actively encourage a series.

    Personally, I have two novels in the works right now. They are unconnected, other than both being in the science fiction genre. One of them, I would not see any value in a sequel. The other, I have had an idea or two for another related story, but I refuse to do any planning in that direction until the first is completed and sold.
     
  12. twelveninetysix
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    twelveninetysix Member

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    I think that an explicit series, as has already been stated, is a bad idea. However, especially in Sci-fi and fantasy, there are often tons of lore elements or characters that, whilst not direct sequels, could be turned into other great books set within the same universe, and there's nothing wrong with that kind of series, since the books don't really directly rely on each other.
     
  13. louis1
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    louis1 Contributing Member

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    i'm guilty, of this. first time writer wants, to write a series. but I haven't really though about the second third books.
    at first i just wanted to write one story, but it then became apparent that, what i was writing could lead to a series if i wanted to, and i want to to do it some day, when the first book is done.
     
  14. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The important thing is to not attempt a series from the outset. Concentrate on writing that first book as a stand alone story that will blow the reader's socks off. Once you're established with that first sold novel, you can look at whether there is another story that might follow from you sold novel. Very often, there is. But meanwhile, dont drop other, unrelated projects you have been developing. In fact, it's a damned good sign if you have unrelated ideas that are worthy of novels. It means you haven't run the well dry with your first novel.
     
  15. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i have to agree with minstrel and cog...

    and i'm also one who does not write a series or a trilogy, nor would i...
     
  16. Night Herald
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    Night Herald New Member

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    As it happens, I do have a series in mind (a fantasy epic, no less). The story I want to tell just wouldn't fit into a single book.
    At the same time I'm working (far more actively, I might add) on two standalone novels, with no relation to each other or the series. However, I can't be completely sure that one of my novels won't spin into a series, or that the series won't condense into a single book. I tend to just have a very rough idea in mind when writing, and see where it takes me.

    As a reader (and to some extent when writing) there's one thing about series that really attract me: (good) persistant characters. I'm currently reading A song of Ice and Fire, which is a great example of that attraction. I've become pretty attached to some of the characters there, and I love being able to just pick up the next book in the series and already be aquainted with them. I guess many folks want to write a series for this reason, and I guess I'm one of them.

    In writing, I much prefer standalone stories to series, but both appeal to me. However, I think it's an unhealthy trend (if such a trend does exist on any large scale) to want to write a series regardless of which format best suits the story.
     
  17. Show
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    IDK, everyone always seems to talk about a series as if they are all heavily interconnected sci-fi/fantasy/YA series like Harry Potter or the like. I think a series need not be like that. I write some crime/fiction and I've already written a series and each novel is pretty much completely stand-alone, especially the earlier ones. Yeah, some characters carry over, but so what? Readers can miss all of the older books and still know who everyone is. (I also got a few standalone novels not related to this.) I find nothing wrong with continuing a character's journey after the conflict of one book is completed, especially if the character's job makes it likely/at least believable that they're going to again face some kind of crazy psycho. (ie a homicide detective)

    Yeah, yeah, I get the "wait 'til you're established' thing. Well, I'll wait to try to sell my later novels in the series until I am established. But I still wrote a series, am proud of it, and could also be comfortable ending the series after every book of it that I wrote. I always finished each story after each one; I just later decided that there was another story to tell with some of the same characters. (Plenty of new ones every book as well.) So this idea that all series writers just cannot end a story seems to be at least a bit overgeneralized. Not sure it's even a little true. And as for writing a series being a bit self-indulgent, isn't writing and seeking publication in general a bit self-indulgent? IDK, I find self-indulgence is a pretty common trait in writers no matter what. (Especially when speculating about other writers. lol)

    And ultimately, if a novel is stand alone but happens to have it's characters featured in other standalone stories, then the "series" is really little different than any other stand alone novel.
     
  18. Egor
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    Egor Member

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    I don't read books from series and I don't write them. The only Stephen King books I haven't read are his series books. I read a series of books when I was a kid (the Jim Dunlap series by Bernard Palmer), but that was it.

    To me, a novel should be a complete story.
     
  19. Program
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    Bob, the average writer, hears the name J.K. Rowling. What does he think of? He thinks of series, fantasy, glory, fame, $$$. Bob, the average writer, hears the name William Faulkner. What does he think of? He thinks of ???, ??? and ??? Maybe I'm wrong, but I bet more people know of J.K. Rowling than William Faulkner, because Fantasy is more fun to read, more fun to talk about, than a Realistic Fiction story that deals with "conflicts within the human heart," to quote part of Faulkner's Nobel Prize speech - because more people find it more fun to be told "Voldemort is evil" than to have to flip back through the last ten pages because they can't figure out what's going on.

    As a result, more people probably know about a series, Harry Potter, than an amazing stand-alone book, As I Lay Dying. So then, the question is, "Why do you write?" Do you write for fame, glory and $$$, or do you write to portray a fictional emotion in a true way? I don't have evidence, but I'd think it's more the first than the second, and that would explain why everyone wants to write a series - because they think a fantasy series is the only way to fame, glory and $$$.

    I heard Harry Potter was written with 4th Grade language (can't confirm), and know that J.K. Rowling is rich and famous. Personally, I've seen As I Lay Dying as even a challenge to decipher for people with English degrees, and Faulkner won a Nobel Prize, but didn't even want his daughter to know, and donated most of the money.

    So to summarize, my point is this: Most people seem to write because they were inspired by someone rich and famous (like J.K. Rowling). Because they want to follow in the footsteps of rich and famous people, and those people wrote fantasy series, new writers tend to take the same path. But I don't think that is the best path.

    OP, you are not alone. I also don't read series books anymore.
     
  20. JessWrite
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    JessWrite Word Nerd & Proud! Contributor

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    When I was younger I disliked series, and even though my mom tried to persuade me to change my mind, I barely ever picked them up. Today, I do enjoy reading series more, but besides The Chronicles of Narnia, I've never finished another series. I usually read up to Book 3 and then get tired of it.

    That being said, when I write, I don't have in mind of a book series. All I want is a good solid story. And, my brain doesn't like to think of creating something that huge just yet. :)

    I think when beginners plan to write a series, that's a lot of pressure they could avoid. I already have the problem with trying to get everything to fit together nicely, but trying to leave a few strings untied would be even harder.
     
  21. tiggertaebo
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    tiggertaebo Member

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    I'm suprised really that people have such veherment opinions - rather than making a sweeping generalisation such as "I don't read series" or "I don't write series" (excepting of course practical considerations with first time submissions such as Cogito pointed out) I think it's much more sensible to look at things on a case-by-case basis. I've read some brilliant stand-alone works where a series or a sequel would have had a negative impact and vice-versa some stories work better spread out and some characters have more than one story worth telling.

    Authors don't always get it right - and IME it does tend to be more likely that someone will get a series wrong than a stand-alone, I've read series where they were either padded out to comical levels to make a set number of books or where new novels have gotten weaker and weaker as the author refused to let go of the characters when they reached their sell-by-date but that doesn't mean the whole concept is rotten.
     
  22. Skodt
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    I love series stories. Harry Potter brought me back into reading. Then I read books such as Rangers Apprentice, the mortal instruments, the last olympian, eragon, maximum ride, LOTR, Game of thrones, sword of truth, ect. I love the idea of learning about a character then not having to discard him at the end of a book. It's excitment to wait for that next edition, what will a favorite character of mine do next? Plus it gives the story time to build and simmer.

    On the other hand I don't only read series books. I love Hemmingway, Dickens, and books on science. So I think the poster above is really simpilizing things.

    Also his example of being confused or having fun? Well of course when I am reading I don't want to be confused. If I have to go back and read the same 10 pages to get the story, then thats the writers fault for not explaining things.

    One last thing Harry Potter is not a 4th grade equivilant story. I don't know where that information came from, but it's just silly.
     
  23. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Please stick to the topic of WRITING series vs singletons.
     
  24. NeedMoreRage
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    I don't have the patience to read long series or even very long books. I also find that after a while, the same characters showing up in each book starts to get on my nerves. They become predictable and boring and they reach a point where they are either not developing or developing so slowly that it doesn't seem like they are growing. The closest thing I like to a series is multiple books set in the same universe, but all of the books revolve around different plots, characters, and themes. This allows writers to explore lore and expand on the history of the world their novels take place in.
    But that's just my preference. I see the benefits of writing a series, it just isn't something I'm interested in.
     
  25. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    That must be it. I'm sure you're right. It's so funny because many people who ask me about my writing always ask "is it gonna be a series?" :rolleyes: and when I say no they go :confused: "why not?" as if every novel idea could and should be turned into a series or a trilogy...:rolleyes:
     

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