At least I'm pretty sure I write standalones. I don't know why this makes me feel a wee bit insecure, but I suppose it has something to do with MG and YA being fairly series-heavy. Kids like series—I've seen it time and time again with my younger siblings and the kids I teach in church. Once they find something they love, they want more more more of that one thing until they can't possibly get anymore. And even then they still want more.
So yeah, I get a little freaked out sometimes that I am debuting with a standalone novel. And guess what? My second novel is also a standalone. And if I sell another...yup, it'll most likely be a single contained story.
Not many people have read my work, but still the most frequent question I hear is: "Is there going to be more?" When I say no people are sad...and, to be totally honest, I am oddly pleased at that sadness. I'm HAPPY that people want more of my characters, but I'm of the opinion that I'd rather leave you wanting more than write a sequel you'd be disappointed in.
I'm not all the way there, but I'm starting to embrace the fact that this is how I write. When I set out to tell a story, my goal is for the reader to close the book, smile, and do that happy sigh thing. I don't like leaving a ton of loose ends. I certainly don't like cliffhangers—okay I despise them. Of course there is always more story to tell, but I like to leave that in the hands of readers. You can decide how it continues.
In my heart, I love writing standalones, but the pressure to write series sometimes makes me wonder if that's the right thing to do. Ultimately, I think it is for me. At least for now. It's easy to get caught up in "what would be best for my career," but in reality being happy is the best thing you can do for yourself as a writer and for your readers. Embracing your style is all you can really do, because when you try to be someone else it shows...and not in a good way. Writing is a lot of work, and I've finally gotten to the point where the most important thing for me is loving the story. If I don't love it, investing all that time to make it a book won't be worth it, no matter how commercial or successful it might be.
So yeah. I write standalones. I'm cool with that, and I hope you will be, too.
It's better to write an awesome standalone than to get pressured into a series where readers can tell a novel was originally a standalone and probably never should have been more. I've seen far too many "series" where it's obvious that the writer's heart was in a great book one, but then they were having to reach and stretch the plot to fill another (or worse - 2 more) book. The extra material feels tacked on, so the whole story suffers. If they'd stopped with the standalone, it would have been something truly special.ReplyDelete
You know your story, and you know how best to write it. You should never feel bad for refusing to turn your story into something it was never meant to be.
My daughter is 13 and a crazy book fanatic. And she's so sick of reading series' (I have no idea what the plural of that is) that she won't even read a trilogy where she knows it's going to end. She's read several series, but she's completely burned out on them. She's obsessed with Ellen Hopkins right now and only has the newest book to read. She's practically given up on paranormal because they're never stand-alone. As long as she loves the author, she'll read anything that author puts out, it doesn't have to be more of the same. In fact, she prefers that it not be.ReplyDelete
I think it's awesome you write standalones. :)ReplyDelete
I'm a standalone writer, too, and I've had these exact same worries, especially since getting an agent. It didn't matter as much before then, but now I'm slightly paranoid about how my books will fit in this YA market. But like you said, it's what I write and what I love, and that's the most important thing in the end.
Can't wait to read your standalones. :)
I love standalones, too. So yes, embrace your talent! Because it definitely takes talent to complete a story to a satisfactory point in just one book. :)ReplyDelete
I love to read standalones, although I'm a series writer. Can't wait to read your work!ReplyDelete
I think there's too many series--in any genre. Not just YA. The idea of standalones is a refreshing change. Please, please, write standalones!ReplyDelete
Embrace it. I'm so over trilogies. I'm sick or reading them and I can't imagine writing one. Not to say I would never Never say never, right?)... but I want to write a book I love, and then move on. there's no appeal to spending 2-3 books on one story/character. for me.ReplyDelete
I prefer reading standalones. This is why I think Courtney Summers rocks.ReplyDelete
This is so funny to me, because while I understand series are popular, I so greatly prefer standalone books. Not to knock series; I just prefer to have everything wrapped up in the end, and have the single book be the complete work. It's satisfying to me. And if I like a book I always seek out other books by the same author, so there's definitely reader loyalty there, even without the presence of a series.ReplyDelete
There's also the fact that I think you can always tell when an author didn't plan for a sequel; the story is always... less. It's a shame, because the original story is usually so shining and wonderful and meant to be left just as it was. In short, I think it's perfect that you're a standalone writer and that you're not being pressured to be anyone but who you are!
I love stand alones. I was so into series for so long, I think I got burned out on them a bit. For now, I pretty much only start new series if they are by an author I know an trust. For example, I just read The Raven Boys because I would read anything Maggie Stiefvater wrote. Even a toaster manual.ReplyDelete
So what I'm trying to say is that I think some people are more willing to give a debut a try if it's stand alone. I, personally, can't wait for Transparent!
I agree with Jadi; there are too many series out there, especially in YA. I enjoy reading series but writing them is a completely different thing. I wont say I'll never do it, but standalones seem to agree with me more, so for now that's what I'll stick to. Keep doing what you're doing, Natalie. We'll defy this trend together!ReplyDelete
I prefer standalones, frankly, and I know I'm not the only one.ReplyDelete
And hey, if you really wanted, you could do standalone companion novels, like Kristin Cashore or Steph Perkins.
But I certainly don't think that's necessary. Quality is the key, not quantity. ;)
Sounds like a great attitude to me. Not everything has to be a series, after all. Write what makes you happy, and maybe someday you'll discover another story for your characters, but maybe not. That's totally OK.ReplyDelete
Twice now I've set out to write standalones, and before I got to the end, I saw the potential for at least one (or two... or three...) sequels! I just don't have the heart to put aside my characters right away, I suppose. But I admire those who can construct complete, satisfying journeys with a set of characters in one go!ReplyDelete
Go with your heart!ReplyDelete
I have been reading a ton on MG books recently (as I am trying to write one myself) and while I do read the first book from a series, I do so knowing I won't read the rest. I just don't have the time - I need to get a feel for the genre as a whole, not just one author. That doesn't mean I am not curious though!
My son loves series and in into a rather long one right now. The only thing I don't like there is that he won't take a break to try a book I have heard is good and think he might like.
Natalie, I'm thrilled to see this post. I love a good standalone novel, so you just made my day with this post.ReplyDelete
Two of my favorite authors wrote mainly standalone works. Their only "series" usually featured stories with new characters set in the same world, perhaps with some guest appearances by previous stars. If Robin McKinley and the late, but amazing, Diana Wynne Jones could do it, so can you!ReplyDelete
I read standalones, and I'm cool with that!ReplyDelete
I am a fan of the standalone novel. I am writing a standalone right now also. I thougth about making it a series but I felt like it would be too strained and artificial to stretch it beyond one book. Good for you! I think it is awesome!ReplyDelete
I adore standalones, to be honest, I miss them. I'm not saying I don't enjoy series, because I do. But there is something really, really nice about a standalone book.ReplyDelete
Never do something you have doubts about no matter what the possible rewards. Just do what you feel is right in your gut and try to stay happy. Life is too short. :-)ReplyDelete
I am TOTALLY cool with that. Standalones are awesome! :)ReplyDelete
I think it's totally cool that you write what you want to write. That's how it should be. I've never written a sequel before, but I have thought about it. I've always thought it would be a lot of pressure for authors of series to keep coming up with more books, because readers already have high expectations based on what they've read so far.ReplyDelete
Since we've already discussed it, you know I prefer standalones. I'm really excited because a lot of the standalones (in YA) tend to be contemporary, and yours aren't. (Well, the first 2.) I wish more standalones were published. Seriously.ReplyDelete
I'm usually not a fan of series, the first book is always my favorite anyway, so what's the point? It's where you meet the characters, where they fall in love, it's hard to out do the first book. I have been surprised recently by companion novels, it amazes me how much story people have to tell in the same setting. And you still get the benefit of getting to know new characters and their relationships, it's a really interesting way of writing a series, I'm not sure I could do it though.ReplyDelete
Yep, I write standalones too ... until I decided to write the sequel for The Breakaway. I'm not a big fan of series to begin with, so it was a tough decision for me to write a sequel. In the end, though, I know I made the right decision, and I'm thrilled with the book, and consequently, I love the first book even more now. You just have to do what is right for you and your stories. If it's standalones, it's standalones!ReplyDelete
It's cool that you do. I respect that. I respect it even more because the cool thing right now is to write series. So props, ma'am.ReplyDelete
It comes down to personal taste.ReplyDelete
I write with various characters coming back again in future works, but at the back of my head is the idea of doing the odd side projects as standalones.
I'm very pleased you're writing a standalone. I'm more likely to buy the book. I like series, but the trend is a serious time suck. I don't have time to keep following a lot of them---even when I really like the story. Sometimes it's nice to read a book and be finished with the story...like in the old days!ReplyDelete