Series vs. Stand Alone Novels


Power of Words

A little history about the Perceval series: When I first began Perceval’s Secret, I thought it was a short story.  It grew to 100 pages and I thought it was maybe a novella. I didn’t want to write a novel, but Evan Quinn had other ideas. He just kept going, so his story ended up being a novel. At the time, I considered it to be a stand alone novel. But Evan just did not want to stop which was annoying until I figured out what direction he was going and why.  Isn’t the imagination amazing?!  I realized that there was definitely a sequel to Perceval’s Secret, and as I began work on it, I realized that no, it was the second book in a series. At first I hadn’t a clue how long the series would be.  As I began to flesh out my plot and story ideas, the series gelled together at 5 novels.

CCY_PercevalsSecretCvr_FNL-960x1280.131107At the same time I’ve been working on the Perceval series, I’ve been playing with a possible mystery series but have not gotten very far with it.  The main character is a young woman who’s working for a private investigator, and the first book deals with the murder of a Buddhist monk. This was always a series, not stand alone books, although I suspect I’ll write each book as if it were a stand alone, which is what I’m doing with the Perceval series.  Then I’m working on a memoir that grew into a series of memoirs, each book addressing a different subject and my relationship to it: medical/healthcare experiences, money, love/sex, religion.

I’m beginning to wonder if I’m capable of writing a strictly stand alone novel not a part of a series.

Short stories are my stand alones, I guess. Each one is so different from the last that there are no connections between them other than the form.  Short stories challenge me beyond everything else. They take me a long time to write.  I can dash off the first draft of a novel in a month or two when I have nothing else on my plate (I’ve been fortunate that I’ve had that experience, i.e. nothing else on my plate, at times in my life and I miss it).

Wish this was mine!

Wish this was mine!

The novel is my home form.  I love reading novels, the journeys through human behavior, psychology, and experience on which they take me, the characters I get to know intimately, and the different worlds a novelist creates, even those still on earth.  (I wish someone would pay me to read novels!)  I love science fiction, fantasy less so, espionage thrillers, and mysteries, but I also love a really provocative literary novel, i.e. one with a real story in which stuff happens and characters who are real people.  I’ve gone through phases.  In high school and college, I was crazy about Russian literature as well as journals (diaries).  I progressed to broadening my reading to European literature, spy novels and other thrillers, memoirs and biographies.  For a couple years, I read only mysteries. Right now, I’m alternating science fiction novels with everything else.  I’m not wild about horror stories but I’ve written them.  I’m also not wild about westerns, romance (except romantic suspense or thriller), war stories (although I do have a fascination with the effects of war, especially World War II and the Vietnam War, and spies during war), vampire stories (although I’ve read Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot), and porn or erotica.

Does it matter that I write novels in a series rather than non-series stand alone novels?  Oh, probably not.  But I do feel like it takes longer to get to the end of the story with a series of novels…..

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2 responses to “Series vs. Stand Alone Novels

  1. I don’t know if it matters: series or standalone. I thought I was writing a standalone but turns out it is a series !!

    • Isn’t it funny how stories really do take on lives of their own?! I knew mine was a series when the main character, Evan, would not stop talking in my head. Thanks for the comment, Damyanti!

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