To write a standalone book? To write many books in a series? Or, to write an additional book as a sequel? Those are the questions and there are many factors to consider before you dive into something that might be well over your head.
Standalone, Sequel, or Series Factor #1: Are you a newbie?
Just how new are you? Did you just write your first novel or are you in the process of writing it? Or, have you written a novel then buried it somewhere?
Maybe you’ve heard the advice, write your first novel, share it, get it critiqued, learn from it, then stick the darn thing in a drawer. I can speak from experience and tell you that, for me, these are heed-able words. I wrote my first novel, went out to a fancy dinner to celebrate, then started the process of editing, sharing, and listening. I learned that I was a new writer and that my writing was good. Then I learned that I needed to go and write something else.
On the other hand, maybe you struck gold on your first spin around the track. If you designed your novel as a standalone, maybe stop there–or, maybe there’s more to tell. If your beta-readers are begging for more, perhaps you need to reconsider your ending.
Pitfalls of writing a series when you thought you wrote a standalone:
You’ve written a novel and you’re writer friend says You know what? You should turn this into a series! That’s a great idea! Because people will buy the first book and then want more! Think of the sales! And you get all starry-eyed and think Yes! That’s a great idea!
It happens. It happened to me. Hindsight is 20/20. I wish I had planned better from the beginning. So if I can give you any advice, try to plan ahead. There were a lot of problems that required some serious mental gymnastics in order to solve. I needed to explain a few of the intricacies of the plot that I, in my cavalier I’m-writing-a-standalone! mindset had previously written.
Cons– It was a nightmare and I hit my head with my desk several times.
Pros– I did it. It can be done, but consider this–would you rather build a house the right way the first time? Or would you rather spend years renovating an imperfect dwelling?
Standalone, Sequel, or Series Factor #2: Are you a seasoned writer?
If you already have a few standalone novels out there and have an established fan-base, writing a series or a sequel should be a fun adventure for you. You already have the basics down so why not give it a try?
The Series Formula:
- Create an overall story arc that will span more than two books.
- Decide on the theme of your series and sub-themes of each of your individual books.
- Create characters who will grow over time. Have a goal and an endgame for each one.
- Decide on your setting and start building your world with a heavy dose of research.
- Start writing!