1. DannyLewis
    Offline

    DannyLewis New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2013
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    0

    Stand Alone or Series?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by DannyLewis, Feb 13, 2013.

    The title is quite broad, but my question should be fairly straightforward. Basically, is at a feasible idea to work on a novel that is originally a stand alone novel, but has the potential to be turned into a series/trilogy etc? Perhaps you could give some examples of series that were written this way, if you know of any?
     
  2. Xatron
    Offline

    Xatron Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2013
    Messages:
    576
    Likes Received:
    6
    Most series started out with their author intending for less chapters than what he ended up writing. As you write your story more and more loose ends come up you can't fit in your original plan and you end up adding 1 volume to the count.
     
  3. DannyLewis
    Offline

    DannyLewis New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2013
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    0
    True. Do you know of any series that started out with the storyline of book 1 being all wrapped up by the end of that book, then based on the success of that original book, more were added to that series?
     
  4. EdFromNY
    Offline

    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2010
    Messages:
    4,685
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    Location:
    Queens, NY
    Allan Drury's "Advise and Consent" was a standalone novel that won him a Pulitzer. He then went on to write an increasingly preachy and polemic series that he couldn't figure out how to end.

    More recently, Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan series started out with "The Hunt for Red October" and sprouted several sequels (as well as one prequel and a couple of spinoffs), each of which stands alone as a story.

    This strikes me as a rather sweeping generalization, and I would be very surprised if it were true. I only know of two cases in which an author used materials cut from a published work for another published work, in both cases Michener, who turned a large chapter cut from "Alaska" into the novella "The Journey" and character originally intended for "Mexico" into the novella "Miracle in Seville". In neither case did the publications comprise a "series". Michener also often found ways to turn his research notes into published nonfiction, including his "Six Days in Havana" which sprouted from his research for "Caribbean".

    My impression from Clancy's work is that each successful work prodded him with the question, "Well, what else can Jack Ryan do?" OTOH, W.E.B. Griffin's "Brotherhood of War" and "Semper Fi" series were obviously planned as series and written as such, but only once he was established as a successful writer.
     
  5. chicagoliz
    Offline

    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 30, 2012
    Messages:
    3,295
    Likes Received:
    815
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    I agree with Ed. It doesn't seem to me that this is the typical scenario, although while writing, an author may end up with so many ideas that he ends up writing a series. I surmise that there are many books that are written with a potential to be a series, but are stand-alone novels. And each novel has to stand alone, in order to be successful. I don't know the background of most series, but I do know that the Steig Larsson trilogy was originally conceived to be a series of *ten* novels, but the author sadly and unexpectedly died shortly after starting the fourth novel. Each of the three novels, however, stands alone, even though there are some events that are tied to events in other books.
     
  6. Show
    Offline

    Show Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2008
    Messages:
    1,495
    Likes Received:
    30
    I would say most series should start with a standalone novel. Mine does. Each book in a series should be as stand alone as possible, IMO.
     
  7. Yoshiko
    Offline

    Yoshiko Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2009
    Messages:
    758
    Likes Received:
    27
    I think this is actually the best way to write a series, instead of planning to write a series from the very beginning. A novel that can standalone leads to a much more satisfying experience for the reader than one that ends on a cliff hanger. Countless times I've been frustrated to get to the end of a book only to find out I need to wait a year+ to find out whether or not the characters achieved their goal.
     
  8. niallohagan
    Offline

    niallohagan Member

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2013
    Messages:
    62
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Manchester
    I have an idea for a series of three books where each book, if it all comes together, will also be a stand allone
     
  9. captain kate
    Offline

    captain kate Active Member

    Joined:
    May 4, 2008
    Messages:
    876
    Likes Received:
    28
    Location:
    Cruising through space.
    The first novel should be a complete stand alone if you're trying to get commercially published. As a new author, it's hard enough to get a single book published, so trying to a series to an agent is going to be pretty damn hard. Worry about making the first one commercially viable and worry about the trilogy second.
     
  10. Trilby
    Offline

    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2010
    Messages:
    2,098
    Likes Received:
    69
    Location:
    NE England
    I agree with what the others have all ready said. Write the first book to the best of your ability and if that book is a success, that will be the time to consider if you should write a follow up.
     
  11. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    yet again, i can thank ed and liz for saying it all for me...

    capn' k... what the bleep is 'putaine'?... without an 'e' it's the french word for prostitute, so i can't even guess at what 'putaine hard' would be... enlighten me, s'il te plait?

    hugs, m
     
  12. minstrel
    Offline

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2010
    Messages:
    8,728
    Likes Received:
    4,826
    Location:
    Near Los Angeles
    In David Morrell's novel First Blood, Rambo dies at the end. Obviously, Morrell did not intend any sequels. But Sylvester Stallone did the movie version, and Rambo lived at the end, prompting sequels. Morrell wrote the novelizations of the next couple of movies, and included an author's note at the beginning saying those novels were sequels to the movie, not to his original novel. This might not be a true answer to your question, because the sequels were prompted by the success of the movie, not to the original novel, but it's the only example I can think of right now.
     
  13. niallohagan
    Offline

    niallohagan Member

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2013
    Messages:
    62
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Manchester
    speaking of morrell. The fraternity of the stone and the brotherhood of the rose are 2 very standalone novels but the characters come together in a third book, the league of night and fog. I wonder was that planned?
     
  14. Pyraeus
    Offline

    Pyraeus Member

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2012
    Messages:
    84
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Dundee, Scotland
    A Game of Thrones was originally meant to be a single standalone book, but overtime George started planning things out and it developed into the series called A Song of Ice and Fire; there are around 7 books so far.
     

Share This Page