Thursday, January 25, 2007

Series Books

The other day when we were discussing following authors into different genres, Jennifer K. made an interesting comment about the appeal of series', and how they're compelling because you get to know more about the characters book by book. I have the same feeling about series books - it's why I love the JD Robb novels so much.

But at the same time, I've heard a lot of people worrying about the lack of completely stand-alone books. I must admit, there does seem a shortage of them - in the paranormal arena particularly. As an author, I think part of that is because most paranormals require intricate world-building, which means you can't explore everything in one go. Therefore the series. Personally speaking, I am loving writing a series because I get to develop both my world and my characters, as the series continues.

However, I also love stand-alone books because of the feelings of closure, of a definite HEA. (Though I do occasionally feel compelled to imagine more of a future for them than is shown in the book.)

So, how about you? Do you want more stand-alone books, or do you love interconnected books? What's the appeal (of either/both)?


catslady said...

My first choice is stand alone. I hate having to wait and I hate it even more when I buy from the middle of a series or end of one. Sometimes I wait and buy the entire series but that is risky too unless I know the author. I guess I don't care for the feeling that some authors tend to string it along to sell more books and that's put me off of series. Of course there are exceptions.

Anonymous said...

You know like catslady - sometimes a stand alone novel is great - and there are dangers of coming into a series towards the end, but I find that most series novels can stand alone - ie the story is strong enough to make sense - without say some of the backstory. If I like it, then I set about finding the other books - say at the library or Ebay or Amazon - depending how far back it goes. I have done that with Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dark Hunter series.(Sometime the thrill of the hunt for the back list is fun!)

I really like a series - it is kind of like TV - only better. And I know alot of people get on Romance and Paranormal novels for depending on the series format - but Jonathan Kellerman Alex Delaware novels are no different. We follow Alex and Milo's lives as they solve crimes. I came to that in the middle - but worked my way back. Sure some things made more sense once I started at teh first one and then read forward, but the main story stood strong - I was just missing some enriching details.

I grew up reading Sweet Valley High and Nancy Drew, and they are series novels.

Anonymous said...

I love series and stand alone books. I have to say, though, that I don't like series that go on and on. It just get old after a while. Trilogies are great because you get almost the best of both worlds. Not too many books, but the satisfaction of a complex story.

Anonymous said...

You know, I kind of think it depends on each story as to whether I'm OK with a standalone or not.

I get the impression that a lot of authors write a book with the intention of starting a series. I think that can make a difference as to whether I'm satisfied as a reader. For instance, if you, Nalini, had made Slave to Sensation a standalone and had no intention of going any further, I probably would've been a little ticked.

You did TOO good a job of dragging me into their world and their conflicts. That story practically begs for more. If I thought it was a standalone, I know I would have gotten to the end of it and been, like, "That's it? But what about Silence? And what about the other hunters? And what about the wolves and the other psy?"

And, it's not that I wanted a second book about Sascha and Lucas -- they've been through their wringer and come out stronger and together on the other side. Let someone else you'd introduced find his or her true love. Plus, the whole back story dealing with Silence and the divisions between the diffenent groups of people needs time to come to a satisfactory conclusion. If you'd tried to solve everything in StS, it would have been a really huge book with the risk of losing some of the intensity surrounding the love story. With a series, you can solve a bit more with every book and not risk the back story and complications overwhelming the love story.

Sorry this is so long.

On another note, while I don't think a series should go on forever, I don't believe they should all be limited to the standard trilogy. That's fine for many of them, but not for worlds like the Brotherhood, the Breeds, Kenyon's Hunters, etc. There's stories to tell, conflicts to resolve and people who need to find happiness and love.

I think it all just depends on the book and what the author intends when he/she writes it.

Anonymous said...

I usually prefer stand alones because I hate to wait for the next book. There are exceptions to this. I love your series, J.R. Ward, S.L. Viehl, and Feehan's Ghostwalkers. The worlds are great and I want to stay there, so there are def. exceptions.

Nalini Singh said...

(I'm supposed to be working so pls excuse the lack of personal replies!)

This is so interesting for me as a writer. The comment about series needing a definite end struck a chord with me. That was one of my goals with the Psy books. I have always known what the ending.

Another thing that I personally need in a series is development of the overarching plot. If things in the world stand still from book to book, I'll be less likely to get hooked.

Anonymous said...

A lot depends on the author and how much development happens from one book to the next.

Not every book should have a sequel.
Nora Roberts Cheapesake Bay series, I wish I'd not read the last book. I think she wrote it due to demand rather than from intent and it spoiled the image I had of the characters.

The problem with a series is you want to read all the books because you've followed the characters but after a while some authors become repetitive and spoil the original appeal of the series which can be a shame.

I like JDRobb, though I'm not rabid about keeping up and generally fall two/three books behind. Kathy Reich (crime) I like but find the relationship angle is contrived at this point I wanting them to get the HEA.

With Slave to Sensation though; there are so many characters with obvious backstory and aspects to the world yet to discover there's leeway for a long series with lots & lots of books (Is that subtle enough a hint?!)

Kelley Armstrong is good with her series a different character takes the lead each book and someone you originaly dislike can actually become an appealing character. Also there's considerable difference between 'voices'.

For some a standalone is best and although you get a HEA you know the characters don't stop and grow moss but that there is more to their stories off camera.

Pamk said...

I love them both. But the one thing I hate is when I accidently pick up a book that is in the middle of a series and after starting to read it figure it out and you have to have read the first ones to get the whole story. That drives me nuts

Larissa Ione said...

I prefer series! (And honestly, this isn't because I'm writing series books!) I just like being able to get deep into a world and read more about characters I already "know."

I tend to have a hard time getting into books, so while I WILL read stand-alones, and do enjoy them, I know when buying a series book that I'll be instantly immersed since I already know the world and the characters.

As long as the main plot is wrapped up with each book, I'm happy!

Anonymous said...

I think it depends on the author.

I agree completely about why paranormals tend to be series, though I've never thought of that before. There is always so much back story involved that it seems impossible to put everything needed in one book. I do love series, but I like stand alone books, too. I can't think of a stand alone book that I've read lately.

With a series, I think the first book is by far the most important because that is when you pull the readers in. I have recommended StS to everyone I know, even those that don't like the futuristic books. I really liked how subtle the futuristic part of it was. We knew that it was in the future, but it wasn't obvious like JDR (who I adore).