To Write a Stand-Alone or a Series

It’s that time of the week – Tuesday Discussion.

For those new to my blog, each week I pose a topic (relevant to my WIP) and try to unravel the mysteries and perspectives of it. Last weeks post was How Do You Find Your Characters Voice? and this week’s post is:

To Write a Stand-Alone novel or a Series

I think the answer to this question is dependent on the characters more than the readers. Do the characters still have more story for you to tell? Or maybe the answer depends on your goals as an author.

Here is a quick summary of both terms:

A Stand-alone novel

The characters and story world are unique to this book. Nothing in this story is going to help you understand backstory or anything else in another book. Sometimes an author thinks this is what they’re writing, but when it is time to write their next book they realize they were writing the first of a series.

Series of a novel

This is a series that could be viewed as a single long story, starting at one point and following the same set of characters over a period of time. Understanding the import of what is happening in book #5 might require knowing about an event from book #3. While some backstory can be integrated into subsequent volumes to help clue a reader in who has started reading mid-series, there is going to be a lot that reader misses.

“Do readers like series with the same characters or should I be looking to start fresh with each new project?”

This is a lot of words with no definitive answer. There are readers who will be happy with any of the possible choices. There are marketing benefits as well as detriments to each for an author. My advice would be, write what you’re inspired to write, but maybe some of the discussion above will inspire something new.

For me, it depends on the characters and story. For my debut novel, A Time of Stones in the fantasy genre, all my characters are on a journey and there isn’t enough space in a stand-alone for them and the plot.

Do you prefer to write Stand-alone or a Series?

Post your comments and answers below. If you think someone has an interesting point of view and answer, please invite them or share this post with them.

#DWTSmith #fantasyseries

series or standalone

8 thoughts on “To Write a Stand-Alone or a Series

  1. I’d have to say I tend to enjoy stand alone’s more. It seems as if with a stand alone you can answer the important questions and leave the reader satisfied. If it’s a series it can get choppy. Like I notice how with TV series’s, which continue toward another season, end each season with a cliff hanger. Lots of questions remain unanswered. Too much tension can ruin the storyline. Important question to answer when writing.

    • I agree, however I love the cliff hangers and the unanswered questions but I think it’s subjective. In saying that I do love a good stand alone novel that answers questions, it shows the writer has talent to sum it up like a short story. 😃
      Thank you for sharing 👍

  2. While in no means wanting to be picky but I think there is more then one definition of a series of books, certainly there many books which are part of an ongoing narrative which adds up as a whole, but equally can you not have a series of books featuring various recurring characters but still be viewed as a stand alone book?

    • I definitely agree. I had the different meanings of series typed up but I deleted it as I wanted someone to bring it up, so thank you for that.
      You can have reoccurring characters in stand alone novels like Sherlock and Conan the Barbarian.
      I’m not a fan in those because I feel there is less of a character arc and development. But people love them and they still sell. I hope that helps 😃

  3. I don’t mind a series, as long as it’s a natural progression of sequels to a successful first book. I do not care for those who start out planning a series without any evidence that the first is any good or popular. And I especially hate how the modern market all but forces authors to write that way.

  4. I’m an unpublished author. The novel I’m working on could be a standalone, but I’ve already outlined a trilogy. I found the differing viewpoints here to be interesting and somewhat helpful. Thank you for the discussion.