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Why So Series?

Brandon Sanderson talks about the different forms a series of related books can take. Interesting for you readers and writers out there.

What kind of series are you writing?

I think my speculative fiction novel series is a combo of the Continuing Adventure and the Serialized Epic (and I’d like to do the Saga at some point -lots of ideas present themselves).

I don’t usually like cliff-hangers much (with some notable exceptions, LOTR for one), and like to have a firm resolution to end each book. I have done that, I think, with the first book in the series. But the next one will be challenging to accomplish in a reasonable word-count (not getting too big).

We shall see. What about you guys?



  1. I tend to prefer standalone works, just because it seems terribly difficult to maintain quality across a series. For example, Robert Jordan ain’t no Tolkien.

  2. I’m mainly a standalone guy myself, but I do have an idea for a fantasy/adventure series for my boys. I prefer a good solid ending as well, but one that leaves a question or two in your mind for the next novel.

  3. Hate cliff-hangers. So unsatisfying! And by the time the next book comes out (or I’m able to read it), I need to go back and review…but I also hate it when the subsequent books in a series fill in the missing pieces in a very obvious way for those who haven’t read the previous book(s), with people spelling out things in detail that they’d never do in real life. “Honey, remember when my parents both died in that train wreck when I was 14, and I had to go live with Aunt Susie and Uncle Max, and I was an only child and they didn’t have kids so it was just me and them, and I lost my faith in God and was angry at Him for years and finally repented when Aunt Susie got cancer, and then I went to seminary and when I was eating in the cafeteria one day tried squash for the first time and found out that I like it? Well, this squash that you just made for supper reminds me of that.” Know what I mean?

  4. Like most above, I’m a stand-alone kind of a guy. But, I also realize that we’re seemingly the exception rather than the rule. The market wants series. Serieses. Seriesi? Anyway… like Grammamack, I have a disdain for infodumping to catch people up… whether in a stand alone or a series. As far as writing, I’d like to go back in time and write LOTR ahead of Tolkien for art’s sake, and then Potter ahead of Rowling for the benjamins.

  5. I don’t like cliffhangers either, but I do love the series. Maybe it’s just because I know there is more to the story, and it’s the best stories that I wish would never end. Hey, somebody should make a movie about a neverending story…

    But each of the books in the series should have some firm resolution as well, especially if I have to wait for them to write the next one.
    Potter had it, at least because they were written around his school years. Tolkien didn’t have semesters, but I didn’t care because it was all finished before I was born, and it could be one book anyway, couldn’t it.

    So, unless you’re writing about high school, how do you have firm resolution in each book in a series?

    Couldn’t tell ya, that’s why I am a carpenter, and you’re the writers.

  6. Ha! Funny reading all this ‘poo on cliffhangers’ years later and thinking HAVE YOU READ EMBER RISING?

    Also, was Empire Strikes Back not the best of the original trilogy? (The answer is YES).

    Cliffhangers are great. Ergo, series are mandatory to relieve the tension of the cliffhanger from the previous book.

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