Who could imagine back in the beginning that books would take off the way they did. Most people these days can read and have picked up at least one book in their lifetime - if only the ones they feel they were forced to read in school.
For others the love of reading is something that has been nurture since they were young and with so many books out there, the choice of characters and worlds is endless. So how does any one decide what to read?
What I really want to talk about is peoples reading habits. Their favourite sort of fiction to get into. Not really what genre do people read, so many of them cross over and new ones are being created all the time, that a conversation about that could be a very long one. What I want to talk about is length.
Do people prefer the stand alone, short series (ie trilogies) or running series? Each type had things that I both like and dislike about them, both in reading them and in writing them.
These are books that tell a single story, it begins and concludes within one volume of the title without any follow up or prelude. They encapsulate one single ride through this authors world.
Pros: You have a solid ending at the end of the book. That's it the stories over. You don't have to rush out to buy the next part to see what happens because it happened. It's particularly good for those with a tight book budget.
Cons: That's it? More often than not with a stand alone the reader and especially the reader that is also a writer, can see ways in which the story could continue or a thread that was left hanging.
As a Writer: Writing a stand alone book is very hard. To make sure that you get everything you want to say into the one book without it being a nine hundred page epic. Not only do I struggle to cut out idea that could spin off into sequels but I hate leaving a world once I've started it.
Short Series (Trilogies, Quartets, & Quintets)
Short series are a small collection of books that follow the characters through several different but interconnected plot lines.
Pros: You get to have more to read. Sometimes one book can not capture the grandness of a world or the characters need more time to develop. Also when a story is really good you always want there to be more and with one of these, you get more without having to break the bank. An extra bonus is all the pretty series linked covers.
Cons: Each book might end in a cliff hanger which means you are left hungry for the next in the series.
As a Writer: Writing Trilogies is probably the format that appeals to me the most. Having one idea that is too grand for one book but too small for an extended series. Three is a magic number. It's also not a lot to commit to, either writing it or reading it. This is especially true if you're just establishing yourself.
Long Series (More than 5 books)
Long Series are just that long. They have gone way past the short idea and straight on to the five year plan. Which I define as "how many books can I bring out in five years".
Pros: If the writing is really good, then long series are great. You favourite characters keep having adventures in a world that you love and nothing other than the untimely death of the author is ever going to stop your fun. Also with all those covers, there can be a picture that builds across the spines over time (they did it with a run of the Harry Potter ones where Hogwarts Castle was revealed across the spines when the collection was complete.)
Cons: These series can literally go on forever. That is a lot of books to commit to buying. This can especially be true if the quality of the fiction doesn't remain the same.
As a Writer: Everything that a reader worries about with a long series so does the writer. Either you know where your story is going (and how many books it will take to get there) or you are flying completely blind writing each story as it comes to you. Then its a question of - How much do you interlock them? Do you end of cliffhangers every time? How do you keep the reader engaged for the long haul? Most important is not running out of ideas or becoming so dis-enchanted with your own work & characters that the quality of the work decreases. It's a lot of pressure to write a brilliant book every time and run the risk of the newest one being compared with the last one.
Leave a comment below on what your favourite type is.