I'm going to start off by saying that writing this post, is ironic. Why? When I first started writing it, I was dead set on my WIP ...

    I'm going to start off by saying that writing this post, is ironic. Why? When I first started writing it, I was dead set on my WIP being a standalone. No sequels, no prequels, no novellas...nothing. By the time I got back home from camp to finish this post, I had plotted out half a sequel to Golden Revenge. But more on that another time.

   So why write a standlone, or why write a series? Today I'm going to be breaking down the pros and cons of standalones, taken from my experience with writing both types of novels.

No sequel pressure

    This is probably the biggest pro for me! If you write a standalone, you don't have to worry about foreshadowing that one twist in book six within book one somehow. There's no expectation that the characters will be as dynamic in the sequel as they were before. There are no worries about whether you can match up to the big success of the first book. With standalones, the story stands (you had to see that coming) on its own, and doesn't lean on or support any other, nor is it expected to.

Time efficient

    Series take a lot of time, and a lot of effort. To be able to plan out, or at least have a general sense of plot throughout however many books, is a massive time commitment, not to mention a challenge. 

    Though how much time needs to be spent writing and editing depends on each book, no matter if it's in a series or not, standalones in my experience are quicker to write. I think this is mainly because I can spend more time actually writing the standalone, and not worrying about how it will fit in or match up to other books in a series.

No sequel plot? No worries

   Sometimes when I read sequels, I feel as if the author is making me trudge through mud on a very slow journey. I know the characters and the world, but where is the plot? It's as if the author wanted to write a series, for the sake of writing one, but forgot climaxes and obstacles in the middle of that. 

   If you write a standalone, and stick to only writing one, your plot shouldn't sag at all, and should be resolved by the end. There is no pressure to write a sequel, because everything has been tied up, and has left the reader satisfied.

Goodbye, characters

    The saddest part of writing a standalone, is having to part with your characters once finished. When you spend so much time dedicated to, and with your characters, they become your friends (or frenemies, it's your head). Leaving them can be hard, and when starting a new project, it might seem as if the new characters are cold and distant in comparison.

The End is the End

    If you satisfyingly tie up the ending, and don't leave any loose threads dangling, you close off sequel opportunities. Readers might be disappointed, and depending on the publishing company, if you have one, it might relieve them or put them off. Unless, of course, you're one of those mean authors who end standalones on cliff hangers...

Lack of world exploration

   Often times the whole story-world cannot be fully explored in one book. If you love to world-build and create different cultures, not being able to fully explore new places or countries could disappoint you. With sequels, exposing the reader to fresh new places and people could give it a sense of depth and realism, that might be hard to achieve in one story alone.

Let's hear your thoughts! What are your pros and cons for writing standalones? Do you prefer writing/reading series, or standalones?
Good luck with your writing, and have a wonderful day! <3

    It can be hard to find a fantasy story without kings, queens, princes, and princesses. I would argue that they could be considered a vit...

    It can be hard to find a fantasy story without kings, queens, princes, and princesses. I would argue that they could be considered a vital part in forming the feeling of a classic epic fantasy. If you look around in a bookstore, 'crown', 'queen', 'prince' and 'king' are everywhere in titles for the genre. They're even in some dystopian or contemporary!

    So how do you make your monarchy stand out? How do you make it feel like yours? Today I hope that with a list of questions to ask yourself, I'll be able to help spark an idea of how to make your story's monarchy shine.

1) What type of monarchy is it? Is it absolute, symbolic, or constitutional? Said in another way, how much power does the monarch have, and how much do the people have?

2) Who is considered the head of the monarchy? Is it defined by gender (eg. is a queen always below a king, unless she is unmarried), or something else?

3) How is the heir chosen? Is it always the eldest child, or is it decided by the people, or by some form of contest? If it's chosen by the public, what kind of heir do they prefer? If it's a contest, what is it like? How is it conducted, and when? What are the consequences for the children who do not get chosen?

4) Where do the monarchy live? Is it a castle, a fortress, a palace, or somewhere else? Do they have any holiday homes? Do they change places of residence according to the seasons? Does their home double as a place of government work, or is that a separate building?

5) How long has this monarchy been around for? Why was it created in the first place -- what need did the people have, or who decided they wanted to rule, and set themselves up as king/queen? Did they draw inspiration from other nations with monarchies, and wanted to have their own, or did they create the first one and were copied by others?

6) Do they have a symbol or crest? Are there animals on it, plants, or a place? What does this signify to others, and what does it mean to the monarchy? Do they have a motto which they try to live by?

7) Who directly serves the monarch and their family? Do they have close advisers, ladies-in-waiting, or valets? Who works for the royal family, but never comes close to them? What is their perception of royalty?

8) What type of clothes do the monarch and their family wear? Are they expected to set the latest fashions, and wear affluent clothing, or be simple and efficient with their clothing? Is there any significant jewelry that shows they are royal, such as a signature ring?

9) What accessory shows they are the monarch? Is it a crown, a necklace, a cloak, or something else? What materials is it made out of? 

10) How complex is their family line? Is every monarch supposed to come from royal or noble blood, or is it acceptable to have commoner blood in them as well? Has anyone in the monarch's family married a commoner, or had a child with them? Were there repercussions from this, or none at all?

11) Is the monarch considered partially divine, chosen by a god or another person? How highly are they elevated in society and class ranking?

12) What kind of education are royalty provided with? Are they taught by a private tutor, in a private school, or at a public one? Do they learn subjects more focusing on government and ruling, or are they taught the same as every other non-royal child? Does the type of education differ depending on whether the royal child is the heir or not?

13) What are considered acceptable sports for royalty to participate in? Archery, hunting, sword-fighting, or team games? Is it considered improper to mingle with non-royal people in this way?

14) What is the public's impression of the monarchy and their family? How has this differed over time, or between generations? What is the monarchy's impression of the public?

15) Who is considered the worst monarch, and the best? What expectations of society, and the monarch's actions, fuel these opinions?

16) What kind of relationships do they have with other monarchies? Are there ever marriages between them, or are they always enemies?

17) Does the monarch have the power to declare a war? Do they have their own army, or do they rely on the armies of nobles that are loyal to them?

18) Has there ever been any attempt to overthrow the monarchy, and put in place a new ruler, or change the form of government? Did the monarchy survive? Or did it topple, then come back later? How and why did it return?

19) How involved does the public like to be in the royals' lives? Are they constantly swarmed by press or the source of gossip?

20) What does the daily life of the monarch look like? How much paperwork is involved? Do they sit on trials, conduct public hearings, meet with foreign leaders and diplomats, or do they live a life of idle luxury? Or something in-between?

Have you ever written a monarchy in a story before? What makes them unique? Are you secretly a queen/king?
(P.S. Sorry this post was published late! I've totally lost track of what day it is... Also quick announcement, I'll be missing next week as I'll be away on a camp, but I'll be back the one after that!) Have a great day! 

    I have a new love: Character Chats (otherwise known as CCs). I'd seen the phrase thrown around a few times online, but wasn't su...

    I have a new love: Character Chats (otherwise known as CCs). I'd seen the phrase thrown around a few times online, but wasn't sure what it was. After chatting for a few weeks with a friend on Facebook, she asked if I wanted to start a Character Chat. I was hesitant at first, because I'd never been part of one, but I thought it was as good a time as ever to try.

    I jumped in. And I've never regretted it since!

    So what exactly is a Character Chat, you ask? Essentially, two writers have their characters interact, go on adventures, and get in trouble together. I'll give a quick example of how it's structured with two of my own characters, from different stories:

Bakari: *seventeen, tan skin, and cropped black hair. sits under a date tree in a worn kilt, cane lying beside him. rubs his thumb over the head of the cane, staring into the distance* 

Sefika: *sixteen, dark gold hair and blue eyes. fair in face, and timid in stature. looks around, confused. spots Bakari, and after a minute of hesitation, goes over to him, footsteps soft* Excuse me? Could you please tell me where I am?

Bakari: *looks up, startled* Oh, uh, y--you're in the palace. *takes in her foreign appearance, furrows his brow* Are you a visitor?

Sefika: ...No. *pauses* I'm sorry, but I meant...what country am I in?
    Not a very good example, but that's the format! Character chats can last as long or as short as you like, you can do it on a messaging platform or by e-mail, and you can switch between characters whenever you like. They're such fun! Apart from having a great time, here are five more reasons you might want to give it a try:

1) Flesh Out Your Characters

   When I started my first Character Chat, I decided to go with the idea of a character/story that was beginning to grow in my mind. Though at times I struggled to figure out what a character would say when I first introduced him or her, as I grew more comfortable with their personalities and actions, I found I was developing them through their discussions and actions!

   Think of it as similar to people-watching. (What no, I don't people-watch, what are you talking about.) You're observing a new or old character react to unusual situations, or interact with people that could potentially become friends, or cause them to butt heads. Through CCing, my character ideas for a new story have been fully fleshed out, and have become old friends!

2) Deepen Your World-building, and Expand Your Cultures

   As the two characters (or more!), one yours and one your writer friend's, will have come from different story worlds, possibly even different time periods, there's bound to be some confusion! Exposing your characters to new cultures, will reveal parts of them you might not see at first in your story. In addition, your character having to explain why they wear a certain thing, or practice a certain custom, is a good opportunity to dig into the 'why' of your world.

3) Friendship (and Fangirling)

   Of course, you can also have sub-chats while CCing (usually done in parentheses). Whether discussing what trouble to put them in what to do next with the characters, or shipping two of them, there's nothing like creating a story together with another writer, to become close friends. And who doesn't like a good fangirl over each other's cinnamon roll characters?

4) Refine Your Dialogue

   It's very rare in CCs that you worry about prose, except briefly introducing what the characters and surroundings look like. The focus is on action, and dialogue. So if you're looking to hone in on how a specific character speaks, or the kinds of dialogue tags or actions you could include, this is the perfect opportunity for that! 

5) You Write...Even When You're Not Writing

    On days when I feel like I can't write in my WIPs, or when I'm lacking inspiration, CCing makes me feel like I'm still writing. Which, to be fair, I am. It's fun, relaxing, and stress-free, all while building up your world and exploring your characters. I can't recommend it enough!

Have you ever been part of a Character Chat? If you have, what do you like about CCing? If you haven't, do you think you'll try one someday?
Have a wonderful day, and good luck with your writing!