Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Series or Standalones?

Do you read Natalie Whipple's blog? If not, you should. It's fabulously entertaining and offers some great writing insight (plus Natalie's just so cute).

Today, she blogged about series and sequels versus standalones, and it really got me thinking.

I am in no way, shape, or form cut out to write sequels to anything I write.

I've tried. When I was younger, I wrote a couple sequels to other novels I'd written. That was back when I was still just writing for fun. Now that I write more seriously, I find it impossible to dwell in the same fictional world for too long.

It's not that I don't love the characters. I do. But a lot of the time I want to do something new instead of write about the same old people. And, in a weird way, it feels like I'm trying to involve myself too much in my characters' lives if I try to write sequels. Almost like I'm a mom trying to cling to her adult children. They don't need me anymore. They're independent. They can handle themselves just fine without me, thankyouverymuch.

Personally, I think YA needs more great standalone novels. Is it just me, or does it feel like every new book you pick up is the first in a trilogy? And how many times have you read a sequel to something and thought, "Wow, that was unnecessary"? I know I've done that. I would much rather read one solid, amazing book that packs a real punch than read three separate, but weaker books.

(Although I do like the idea of companion novels -- sequels-but-not-really, like Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door. But maybe I just think that because Stephanie Perkins can do no wrong!)

What do YOU think? As a reader, do you prefer series or standalones? How about as a writer?


  1. There's something compelling about sequels as a reader, because it means the experience doesn't have to end (a good thing if you enjoy the book, characters, etc.) However, it can get a little exhausting as well, particularly if the series stretches longer than 3 books.

    As a writer, I kind of think every story I write should have the potential for a sequel simply because I prefer for some things to be left to the reader's imagination. If there's that wiggle room then, at least in theory, the story could go on forever. That make sense?

    Kind of like Harry Potter (for me); I can spend hours dreaming up scenarios that were never explained or left open from the stories, and I think that series said about all it could have in the actual telling. It's complete, but still has a chance to grow. :-)

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  3. I enjoy reading both as a reader and a writer. Although, I have to admit that most of the books I've read recently have been a part of a series.

    Sorry for the deleted comment. :)

  4. I like sequels, but only if the story really needs them. I'm like you; I can't stand sequels for sequels' sake, but I do like the freedom of being able to tell big stories sometimes. :)

  5. agree, agree...and agree! :)

  6. I LOVE Natalie's blog! Totally agree that there needs to be more standalones in YA. I hate cliffhanger endings and tend to find sequels disappointing, so there aren't may trilogies or series I really love. I don't think I've ever read a standalone and wished for a sequel. I enjoy imagining my own continuations, I guess. I do like the idea of companion novels, though! That way it can be enjoyed by both new and loyal readers.

  7. I prefer standalones as both a reader and a writer. I get tired of reading an entire book without getting any real conclusion and then having to wait several years to find out how the story ends.

    As for my own writing, by the time I get to the end of a book, I'm pretty worn out and need a break from the characters. I have so many ideas and I'd rather start something fresh. I have one WIP that I think could work really well as a 2-book series and I have some ideas for a sequel, but it's not something I'll be working on anytime soon.

  8. We totally agree that YA could use some more good standalones. (Sarah and Ingrid are writing some!)

    But we do like sequels sometimes too.

    It should depend on what the story/world calls for -- NOT how much money someone thinks they can squeeze out of readers

  9. As you know, I couldn't agree more with this post :D