Pros and Cons of Standalones

    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

Comments

  1. I've recently been considering turning Watched into a standalone because I have NO IDEAS for what are supposed to be TWO MORE BOOKS. Eep. I love it and I wish I could make it three books, but I don't think that's gonna happen anytime soon. :( This was an excellent and helpful post, though! Most of the time I write series (my current fantasy WIP is the first in a series of four and I've got an alternate history brewing that will be a trilogy.) I do have some ideas for standalones (a potentially 500-pager fantasy that will be one and done; a couple of contemporaries; a Robin Hood retelling) but those are kind of on the back burner for me right now.

    Awesome post, and thank you! Your content is always so helpful :)

    Faith//thefloridsword.blogspot.com

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    1. Aw thanks so much Faith! I'm glad you find it helpful. <3 I know the feeling, loving characters but having no ideas for other books -- I would probably nudge you in the direction of making it a standalone, but it's up to you! Both series and standalones can be great, and each story is best suited to one of them; the tricky part sometimes is figuring out which! Thanks for commenting!

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  2. I love novels, but I always hate that it's the last time we get to see the characters and the world.

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    1. That is rough! But I also hate waiting for sequels to come out, so there are pros and cons for both, haha. xD Thanks for commenting!

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  3. This post...beautiful as always, Melissa!!

    heehee, my novels tend to start out as standalones and then I get fascinated with one or two characters and the need to create the backstory is too much...*sigh*

    Catherine
    catherinesrebellingmuse.blogspot.com

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    1. Naw, thanks so much Catherine! <3

      Haha I feel you there. That's when falling in love with our characters becomes a problem; they demand so much of our attention! Thank you for commenting! :)

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  4. These are such a good points!
    I prefer standalones because I'm not the best at committing to a book. :/ XD

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    1. Thanks Gray! <3 Oh goodness, that is also me -- it can be hard not to skip away with shiny new ideas!

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  5. I like both series and stand-alones. They both have challenges and fun things when writing.

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    1. That's very true; each come with their own virtues and challenges! :D Thanks for commenting Rachel!

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  6. A sequel to Golden Revenge??!!! AAAAAHHHH!!!

    I can't decide which I like more - stand-alones or series. I agree with all of these points, and some of them I had never considered before, so this was very interesting and thought-provoking! :D

    Lila
    The Red-Hooded Writer

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    1. AAHHHH I KNOW I'M BOTH EXCITED AND SCARED.

      I also find it difficult to choose between them -- I have a love for standalones, but at the same time I like spending more time with my favourite characters, and ahhhh. So hard. xD Aw, thank you Lila! <3

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  7. Great post, Melissa! I think it's easier, in a way, to write standalone, but then again, it can be harder... Now I'm confusing myself. xD

    Micaiah @ Notebooks and Novels

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    1. Thanks Micaiah! Haha no worries, I get what you mean. xD Both have their own difficulties!

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  8. My motto is ... always try to do a standalone and if it decides to keep going, then you keep going too. Bc sometimes with series it is as if the author stretched a relatively simple story unnecessarily long just to make it branch three or four books :P

    -lisa @ inkwell

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    1. That's a good motto! :D I also get annoyed when authors drag out a simple story, but I guess they loved their characters so much they felt like they needed to!

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  9. LOL you sound like me. When I wrote Fiendish it was to be a standalone. Book over and done. Then at the end Malcolm was not satisfied (he's the lead in book 2). He wanted to see Calida's HEA through to the end, not left open ended. Not Broken was born. Again, I thought I was done and over after that. I'm currently working on a novella for Malcolm and Calida and have thoughts in the works for a sort spin off of sorts featuring Calida's sister and Malcolm's friend. None of these are a 'series' in the traditional sense, but they are all characters from the same world. A book that was supposed to be a one and done.

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    1. Haha we do sound alike! It's so hard to part with characters once you fall in love with them. I'm doing a similar thing with my sequel -- same world and a few of the same characters, but new POVs. I wish you all the best with your series/spin-offs, and thank you for commenting, Meka! :D

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  10. This is a great list of pros and cons! Most of my story ideas tend to be standalones (but they do like presenting potential new storylines for later installments...), though my primary WIPs are part of a series. A definite pro is being able to watch the characters grow and spending so much time with them, though it's going to be difficult to say goodbye after so long! Although, writing standalone stories does leave room to imagine where characters may end up after the stories over, without having to fill in every detail about how they got there.

    I haven't read many standalone books recently though... Sometimes it's a challenge to find them!

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    1. Thank you! :) Yes, there are many pros and cons for both! I enjoy spending time and growing with my characters too, and also struggle with saying goodbye to them. That is also very true; and it's what sparked my sequel idea! True, I wish there were more standalones around, especially fantasy. Thanks for commenting, Jameson! xD

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  11. I love both my series and my standalone! As you said, the both definitely have pros and cons, but they work out with the story! I really enjoyed reading this post!

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    1. I'm glad you enjoy writing both of them; then you get the benefits of both! :) Aw, thanks Sarah!

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  12. I cackled out loud when I saw the title of this in my feed :P WHICH IS BAD CAUSE I'M CURRENTLY IN A COFFEE SHOP. But, since you're writing a sequel to The Lovely, I suppose I can forgive you :P I agree with all your points! Especially the world part. Who wants to create a multi-layered, complex world ... and only write one book with it?

    I'm so pumped for your sequel!!! :D

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    1. SORRY TO MAKE YOU CACKLE. I'm glad I'm forgiven though. xP Very true; it's so fun to explore more of the world and all its cultures and locations! Eeeee thank you, lovely, I'm so excited for it!! <3

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  13. This is a neat exploration! I'm thinking of doing a standalone soon, so these are good things to keep in mind!

    storitorigrace.blogspot.com

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    1. Thanks Victoria! I hope my thoughts will help you out with that. :D

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