Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Seriously Series

I like to read standalone novels but I also like to read series.

Growing up, I adored the Babysitters' Club and Sweet Valley High (there's doing to be a new series for the twins with them in their late 20's). The Anne books. Nancy Drew. I loved the Chronicles of Narnia and Lord of the Rings (although technically, LotR is just one really long book).

Since then, I've read many more series, including Harry Potter. Currently, I'm on book 3 of the Sookie books. I really liked the first book. The second is good but not as good as the first. So far, book 3 seems even more downhill.

Will I continue to read them? Yes. But why have they started to turn south on me? That's hard to say.

I've been thinking about series a lot lately as I'm working hard to finish up Champion of Valor, Book III in the Kingdom of Arnhem series. I want to tie up all the loose ends, develop the characters from the previous books further even while I balance introducing new characters and races. It's a balancing act.

I think with series, it's important to continually build. You have to have character growth in each book and throughout the series. Each book should be separate and yet when read together, there should be something more. There should be an overlying arch to the books in a series.

Do you like to read series? Why or why not? What's your favorite series? Mine is probably Harry Potter. Or Outlander.


Angela said...

Favorite series so far: The Iron King series. (The third book is supposed to come out next month, I can't wait!)

Unknown said...

I like reading series, but it really drives me nuts when the last book isn't as good as the first one, as if the writer got bored of writing the series. But you have to keep reading because you want to see how the series ends.

I'm now into romantic suspense. A series in this genre is completely different to what I'm used to. Here, each book is a standalone, but it's better to read them in order since some of the storylines from previous books come up. But it isn't essential to read them in order. You can even skip books if you want.

Áine Tierney said...

I'm not into reading series at all. I love to read a book in a sitting or two- just throw myself into it completely.
Maybe I just haven't found the right series for me to enjoy, but after plunging myself intensely into one world I like to go onto something new.

Creepy Query Girl said...

I like series, like Vampire Academy. What I don't like is when the characters fluctuate. In some books, it's like the author got bored and decided to drastically alter their MC's personality. Drives me nuts. I was huge on Babysitter's club, Sweet Valley, Goosebumps, RL Stine, and LJ smith when I was growing up. Still haven't read LOTR! (I know)

Cherie Reich said...

I love series books. As a child, I read Sweet Valley High, Nancy Drew, and The Cat Who books. I absolutely love Harry Potter, and I enjoy reading the Temperance Brennan series, Sookie Stackhouse, Dexter, and the SPQR books. I've probably left out some. Okay, yeah, I know I have, but I don't know if you'd want the entire list of series books I read.

I completely agree that the characters in the series need to grow and develop in ways unlike a stand alone book. At the same time, each book needs to be stand alone in case people pick up on without knowing the others.

As for Sookie Stackhouse, I prefer when Eric has a bigger role in the novels. *sighs* Handsome, strong, Viking Eric. ;)

S.A. Larsenッ said...

These are great! And yes, I'm all about series. As a matter of fact, I hate it when I really like a story and want to know what happens to the characters after but never find out.

Julie Musil said...

I've read very few series. Maybe it's my short attention span, or maybe I just haven't found "the one." I think I'm the only freak on earth who didn't like the Harry Potter story. I couldn't even get into the first book! But I read Twilight and loved that, and Hunger Games. I plan to read the other books is these series.

Sophia said...

I actually just posted about some of my issues with the trend of trilogies in YA last Friday. The same 'con' applies to a series generally, the wait between books (sometimes spanning years!) can be a drawback and I've heard of people waiting until a series is complete before reading it. And then there's always the few cases where an author has passed before finishing the series (Robert Jordan).

In the past, starting an incomplete series hasn't bothered me, but now there's so many that it would be nice to see more stand-alones, especially in fantasy. Despite my little rant, I can't choose a favourite series- I've liked/loved too many to pick!
- Sophia.

Carol Riggs said...

I tend NOT to like series, but some catch me up anyway--like Harry Potter. The Hunger Games got me to reading Catching Fire, but then I fizzled out from hearing how disappointing the ending of Mockingjay was. One series for MG my daughters and I loved was the Animorph books by K.A. Applegate. They loved the Catwings series too, by Ursula LeGuin. These are for younger readers, of course.

N. R. Williams said...

Yes, I'm a series girl, though stand alone are great too. I agree about LoTR...and I love Harry. I think as a writer in today's market there is so much pressure to bring out the second book or the third that its hard to make them as dynamic as the first. As a self-published author, I don't have that pressure. We will see if I achieve the success I dream of and can satisfy the reader too.
N. R. Williams, fantasy author

Sara Harricharan said...

Ah, I loved the babysitters club. It was one of my favorites, right along with the Saddle club. There's just something about the familiar characters always being able to solve a problem and continue on having fun and doing neat stuff. Since then though, I've only kept up with old mystery series, I don't really like any of the new ones that have come out, with the exception of the Beka Cooper books by Tamora Pierce.

LTM said...

I got that BSC book for my daughter, and it has a new cover... she would've liked the old one better, I bet.

It seems series have a strong tendency to go bad. Sigh. If only they knew when to stop~ ;p

Stephanie Faris said...

I didn't know that about Sweet Valley High! I auditioned to write for them in the 90s. Daniel Weiss Associates was Francine's book packager and they paid writers around $1,000 a book to write them. They sent you a very detailed outline and you had to follow it but try to write in that same voice. I did the audition process twice and didn't make it, but it was SO much fun!

Kari Marie said...

I enjoy a good series too.

I must admit that I've started a few that have left me feeling Bleh about the next release. I'm not running to the bookstore.

Colene Murphy said...

SO true about series and growth. It's really boring to keep reading them do the same crap. I mean, even if it's fast paced and plot twisty, it's really no fun if there is no end point. No final show down, no life lesson, etc.

Angela Ackerman said...

I enjoy series a lot, if they stay fresh. If it's the same adventure over and over...there's just so many other good books out there, I move on.

This is really good advice about what to think about writing series. It's much harder than it first seems, I think.

Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse