NOT YOUR USUAL SUSPECTS

A group blog featuring an international array of killer mystery, suspense, and romantic suspense writers. With premises and story lines different from your run-of-the-mill whodunits, we tend to write outside the box. We blog several times a week on all topics relating to romantic suspense and mystery, our writing, and our readers. We welcome all comments! and often have guest bloggers.

We find our genre delightfully, dangerously, and deliciously exciting - join us here, if you do too!


Julie Moffet . Clare London . Cathy Perkins . Jean Harrington . Daryl Anderson . Nico Rosso . Maureen A. Miller . Marcelle Dube . Sandy Parks . Lisa Q Mathews . Sharon Calvin . Lynne Connolly . Janis Patterson

Monday, September 19, 2016

To Series or Not to Series...by Kathy Ivan


Sometimes as a writer, I’ll get an idea for a story, and immediately want to write it.  (Fitting it into my hectic schedule is a whole other ballgame.)  There’s enough of a story for it to be what’s known as a standalone book, meaning there will only be the one book which doesn’t connect with any other books that author has written.  No other books will come from this story idea.  And that is perfectly fine. 
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But other times, I will get a kernel of a story.  When I start thinking about it, and begin writing, there’s so much going on, not only with the main characters (the hero and heroine), but with the secondary characters, I feel the need to tell their stories too.  Some of them have stories that are equally as interesting as the people you are writing about—so much so they almost steal the story away from your hero and heroine. 

When that happens, it almost becomes imperative to write an ongoing series.  Writing a series can be done in many ways, but the two most common are:

1.  The hero and/or heroine will have multiple books about them.  This individual’s story arc will carry across from one book to the next (a perfect example is Julie Moffett’s Lexi Carmichael series).  These books revolve around the main character, i.e., Lexi, and her many adventures, including solving a mystery in each book, as well as surviving the ups and downs of maintaining a romantic relationship.  This works extremely well for cozy mystery series.

2.  Another example would be the series where there are cross-over characters, but each book has a different hero and heroine (or hero/hero, heroine/heroine depending on the genre).  An example of this would be my New Orleans Connection Series.  Each book can be read as a standalone book—meaning you don’t have to have read any of the other books in the series in order to read and hopefully enjoy any single book.  The characters will cross over into other books in the series, and readers seem to love when that happens.  It’s like catching up with old friends you came to care about in other books. 


These are just two examples of writing series versus standalones.  Neither one is right or wrong, or better or worse than the other.  It’s all up to the writer, and ultimately the reader, to decide their reading preference.  And that’s part of what I love about writing (and reading).  There’s a vast amount of choices out there—all you have to do is pick one and dive in. 

Happy Reading! 

Kathy is busy writing her New Orleans Connection Series, a romantic suspense series, set in and around New Orleans.  Her latest release, Deadly Justice, is available now.  Her next book, Wicked Obsession, releases in September 2016.  For more information on Kathy’s books, click on:  www.kathyivan.com/books.html  


5 comments:

Rita said...

Love this. Yes so many stories to write and sooooooooo many to read. :-)

Anne Marie Becker said...

I love writing and reading series. Typically, I prefer the ones that have different heroes/heroines in each book, but are connected in other ways (via a town, company, mission, whatever). But I recently had a character come to me that would be perfect for a series featuring the same woman as the heroine in each one. Not sure what to do with it right now, and no time to write it, but it's fun to think about! :)

Kathy Ivan said...

Hi Rita,
Yes, there are soooo many books I want to read, but I've also got an almost endless supply of ideas for stories to write. It's hard to find a balance, though I have to admit I am a bookaholic, so I tend to read a lot, but I ave it for when I've finished my words for the day.

Kathy Ivan said...

Hi Anne Marie,
Make sure and write down everything concerning that female heroine, so that when you do have a few spare days, whether it be weeks or months from now, you can keep it fresh in your mind, because we sometimes get so engrossed in the current stuff, we forget the really great kernels that spring up when we least expect them.

I'm one who tends to write different heroes and heroines with interconnecting books, thus the New Orleans Connection series. Every one of them has somebody or something to do with New Orleans in a way that the reader can identify. Right now it's working and the readers want more, so I'll keep going until it feels stale.

Josh Lanyon said...

I've come to prefer standalone as a writer and maybe even as a reader because the stakes are so high. There are no guarantees (and no penalty to pay for "violating reader trust" if you decide on a twist or two). There's nothing to remember and no pressure to show (and keep track of) that continual growth and change necessary in a series.

Also -- as a reader -- I really, really hate it when a book ends in a perfect place and then the writer decides to shake it all up again in order to revive a character that frankly didn't need reviving.

So when I see a favorite book or film has a sequel, my reaction is often a groan.

But the real reason I've decided to end all my current series as soon as possible as I'm so tired of getting grief over writing something that isn't the next installment in a particular reader's favorite series. Yeesh. Sometimes you just want to write something else. And sometimes you're trying to please another core of readers who wanted the next installment in THEIR favorite series. So my plan is to wind up ALL my series in the next two years or ASAP. And NOT start any new ones. :-D

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