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Author Topic: How do you feel about stand-alone books?  (Read 15921 times)

Offline StephenJWolf

Re: How do you feel about stand-alone books?
« Reply #15 on: July 09, 2015, 05:06:31 PM »
I generally prefer having a series. If I love the world and the characters, I want to be able to continue to live there. The Dragon Prince and Dragon Star trilogies by Melanie Rawn come to mind.

I did love Sorcerer's Son by Phyllis Eisenstein. Years later a sequel appeared, but I was more than thrilled with just the original.  My all-time favorite (maybe because it was my first) was Master of the Five Magics by Lyndon Hardy. Two other books followed after, but they're each completely different adventures with very few overlaps between the characters.

(Clearly I need to read more contemporary fantasy. ;D)

Offline m3mnoch

Re: How do you feel about stand-alone books?
« Reply #16 on: July 09, 2015, 06:09:07 PM »
And I don't think I'd count the Sherlock Holmes's style of books "stand-alones". I mean, they are, but at the same time - not quite. I associate this style of writing novels more with thrillers and detective stories than with fantasy.

He does have many separate series set within one universe, but he doesn't seem to write stand-alone books at all.

hrm.  good points.  i suppose this is all dependent on someone's personal opinion of what makes a stand-alone.

is it a story where none of the characters appear anywhere else?  i think, 'yes'.

is it a story with recurring characters, but the plot wraps up neatly?  again, i think, 'yes'.

personally, i am less of a fan of the former, and more a fan of the latter.

know what i mean?

Offline Raptori

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Re: How do you feel about stand-alone books?
« Reply #17 on: July 09, 2015, 06:34:14 PM »
And I don't think I'd count the Sherlock Holmes's style of books "stand-alones". I mean, they are, but at the same time - not quite. I associate this style of writing novels more with thrillers and detective stories than with fantasy.

He does have many separate series set within one universe, but he doesn't seem to write stand-alone books at all.

hrm.  good points.  i suppose this is all dependent on someone's personal opinion of what makes a stand-alone.

is it a story where none of the characters appear anywhere else?  i think, 'yes'.

is it a story with recurring characters, but the plot wraps up neatly?  again, i think, 'yes'.

personally, i am less of a fan of the former, and more a fan of the latter.

know what i mean?
Yeah I agree with that, though I like both roughly equally.

I'd argue that Sanderson's books fall in neither of those categories though. Take Alloy of Law for example - the plot of the book is wrapped up, but there are things that are left unfinished. To me it's exactly the same as, say, the first Mistborn book. The things driving the plot have not been resolved, and they'll be continuous threads that carry on to the next book.
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Offline Hedin

Re: How do you feel about stand-alone books?
« Reply #18 on: July 09, 2015, 06:50:40 PM »
And I don't think I'd count the Sherlock Holmes's style of books "stand-alones". I mean, they are, but at the same time - not quite. I associate this style of writing novels more with thrillers and detective stories than with fantasy.

He does have many separate series set within one universe, but he doesn't seem to write stand-alone books at all.

hrm.  good points.  i suppose this is all dependent on someone's personal opinion of what makes a stand-alone.

is it a story where none of the characters appear anywhere else?  i think, 'yes'.

is it a story with recurring characters, but the plot wraps up neatly?  again, i think, 'yes'.

personally, i am less of a fan of the former, and more a fan of the latter.

know what i mean?
Yeah I agree with that, though I like both roughly equally.

I'd argue that Sanderson's books fall in neither of those categories though. Take Alloy of Law for example - the plot of the book is wrapped up, but there are things that are left unfinished. To me it's exactly the same as, say, the first Mistborn book. The things driving the plot have not been resolved, and they'll be continuous threads that carry on to the next book.

My opinion of a standalone is that its a completely contained story.  I don't mind characters or events from previous books set in the world creeping in as long as I don't need to know any of those details going in and as long as when the book finishes I get a nice "neat" ending that doesn't give me any sort of cliffhanger.

A lot of Sanderson's novels are good examples (although I don't think any of them will be true standalones at the end of the day, I believe he has plans to continue the Warbreaker and Elantris series at some point).  Abercrombie actually jumps out more to me than Sanderson, each of his books (outside of the two trilogies) is set in the same world but I think they function just fine on their own as well.

I've only read The Lions of Al-Rassan, which I really enjoyed, but it seems to me like Guy Gavriel Kay would be a good suggestion for standalones.

Offline m3mnoch

Re: How do you feel about stand-alone books?
« Reply #19 on: July 09, 2015, 07:18:19 PM »
i think @Raptori just identified another kind of stand-alone for me.  the "story with recurring characters, a plot that wraps up, and tendrils that can be followed for other stories" kind.  (that oxford comma was in there just for you, btw!)

and, @Hedin -- i'm currently in the middle of a brent weeks binge, but i think abercrombie is totally going to be my next obsession.  it shames me greatly that i haven't read a single one of his books yet.

Offline Raptori

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Re: How do you feel about stand-alone books?
« Reply #20 on: July 09, 2015, 07:24:26 PM »
i think @Raptori just identified another kind of stand-alone for me.  the "story with recurring characters, a plot that wraps up, and tendrils that can be followed for other stories" kind.  (that oxford comma was in there just for you, btw!)

and, @Hedin -- i'm currently in the middle of a brent weeks binge, but i think abercrombie is totally going to be my next obsession.  it shames me greatly that i haven't read a single one of his books yet.
Interesting, I'd definitely call that a series rather than stand-alones. I guess for you the mega-novel is the archetypical series, whereas for me that's just a subset. :)
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Offline m3mnoch

Re: How do you feel about stand-alone books?
« Reply #21 on: July 09, 2015, 07:33:23 PM »
Interesting, I'd definitely call that a series rather than stand-alones. I guess for you the mega-novel is the archetypical series, whereas for me that's just a subset. :)

ah.  interesting.

yes, indeed.  the mega-novel is absolutely my definition of series.  wheel of time, game of thrones, etc.  such stuff of that ilk.

Offline Ryan Mueller

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Re: How do you feel about stand-alone books?
« Reply #22 on: July 09, 2015, 08:44:22 PM »
I generally prefer series because I often find a standalone doesn't give me enough time with characters and a world that I love.

Interesting thing I read today about waiting for an entire series to be published before buying the books. That ends up hurting the authors. If the publisher doesn't see enough sales with the first book, they may not pick up the rest of the series, or may not buy subsequent series from the author. This is especially problematic if the author is not one of the big names.

Offline ScarletBea

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Re: How do you feel about stand-alone books?
« Reply #23 on: July 09, 2015, 08:53:59 PM »
Interesting thing I read today about waiting for an entire series to be published before buying the books. That ends up hurting the authors. If the publisher doesn't see enough sales with the first book, they may not pick up the rest of the series, or may not buy subsequent series from the author. This is especially problematic if the author is not one of the big names.

Yep - I've said this in the past, but knowing how important it is for authors I think I'm slowly letting go of that.
Especially because there are always old complete series that I haven't read yet, so can binge on them (Robin Hobb, still looking at you :D)
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Offline Yora

Re: How do you feel about stand-alone books?
« Reply #24 on: July 09, 2015, 09:06:47 PM »
That's the writers hurting themselves by attempting such hugely ambitous series without having the massive fame needed to make them profitable. It's not that there are that many stories that need to be 2000 pages.
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Offline JMack

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Re: How do you feel about stand-alone books?
« Reply #25 on: July 09, 2015, 09:32:21 PM »
That's the writers hurting themselves by attempting such hugely ambitous series without having the massive fame needed to make them profitable. It's not that there are that many stories that need to be 2000 pages.

I was thinking about Game of Thrones the other day as the world's longest shaggy dog story.

Quote
In its original sense, a shaggy dog story is an extremely long-winded anecdote characterized by extensive narration of typically irrelevant incidents and terminated by an anticlimax or a pointless punchline. Shaggy dog stories play upon the audience's preconceptions of joke-telling

Or, GofT is a history, more than a story. There are so many threads that just go nowhere and aren't at all central. Now, I really like GofT, but we're talking about a 1.8 million word novel so far, with probably another 800K yet to go. And it is one novel, not 7 books.

I've not finished WofT or Malazan. WofT is 4.4M words! Malazan is only 3.3M. (What a slouch  ;))
Although they work together into one long epic, my memory of WofT books 1 to 7 is that they mostly work as novels unto themselves. I don't see GofT in the same way.

Thoughts?
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Offline YordanZh

Re: How do you feel about stand-alone books?
« Reply #26 on: July 09, 2015, 10:09:05 PM »

I've not finished WofT or Malazan. WofT is 4.4M words! Malazan is only 3.3M. (What a slouch  ;))
Although they work together into one long epic, my memory of WofT books 1 to 7 is that they mostly work as novels unto themselves. I don't see GofT in the same way.

Thoughts?

Mm, I think I view WoT as "one novel" as you put it. Yeah, the first 2-3 of the books had kind of individual endings but as a whole it was all too connected. Plus I read them in a roll, one after another, so yeah, it definitely felt as one big-ass novel.
Haven't had the balls to start the Malazan yet tho - after WoT and GoT I'm playing it "easy" and don't go above a trilogy these days. :D

Offline Raptori

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Re: How do you feel about stand-alone books?
« Reply #27 on: July 09, 2015, 10:39:07 PM »
Yeah each WoT book so far (currently reading #6) builds towards its own climax, but it does feel like one continuous story more than separate ones.  :)
I wish the world was flat like the old days, then I could travel just by folding a map.

Offline Hedin

Re: How do you feel about stand-alone books?
« Reply #28 on: July 09, 2015, 10:51:47 PM »
That's the writers hurting themselves by attempting such hugely ambitous series without having the massive fame needed to make them profitable. It's not that there are that many stories that need to be 2000 pages.

I was thinking about Game of Thrones the other day as the world's longest shaggy dog story.

Quote
In its original sense, a shaggy dog story is an extremely long-winded anecdote characterized by extensive narration of typically irrelevant incidents and terminated by an anticlimax or a pointless punchline. Shaggy dog stories play upon the audience's preconceptions of joke-telling

Or, GofT is a history, more than a story. There are so many threads that just go nowhere and aren't at all central. Now, I really like GofT, but we're talking about a 1.8 million word novel so far, with probably another 800K yet to go. And it is one novel, not 7 books.

I've not finished WofT or Malazan. WofT is 4.4M words! Malazan is only 3.3M. (What a slouch  ;))
Although they work together into one long epic, my memory of WofT books 1 to 7 is that they mostly work as novels unto themselves. I don't see GofT in the same way.

Thoughts?

You get the same sort of feeling, and maybe even more so, with Malazan.  Each book jumps around to different continents and characters and they don't feel as continuous as lot of other series do.   Yes there are themes and events that bind it all together but it really is sprawling.

Offline m3mnoch

Re: How do you feel about stand-alone books?
« Reply #29 on: July 09, 2015, 10:58:10 PM »
I was thinking about Game of Thrones the other day as the world's longest shaggy dog story.

omg.  i totally just laughed out loud.  like, for reals.

Yeah each WoT book so far (currently reading #6) builds towards its own climax, but it does feel like one continuous story more than separate ones.  :)

ah.  you're about to hit the go-nowhere-land-of-subplots that are books 7 through 11.  the story and the world just had so much going on that it kind of spun out of his control.  have no fear, tho.  once sanderson picks it up, he storms through, tying up most of the loose ends.  and the last couple books roar through to a close, all packed with adrenalin and stuff.
« Last Edit: July 09, 2015, 11:00:05 PM by m3mnoch »