How long can you make a story?

How long do you think you could make a single story go? Do you write only standalones? Trilogies? Series? Could you make it go on forever, like a comic book series?


My biggest project was a writing challenge that managed to do 800,000 words over the course of roughly four years of the characters' lives. Written in less than seven months.


I could, in theory, do stories like that again... but I won't. My current project is going to total at least fifteen novels (and growing- when I started this series... uh... several months ago... I'd only planned 10 books) of between 40 and 70 thousand words each. All set in the same universe, but often showing completely different characters living very different lives. I've yet to do a true sequel to any of my books... but I'm going to have to do that shortly...


Think of it as like Discworld, but with more adult themes and without Pratchett's humor.


The current book is an easy series that could go forever, if I want, because I have a very convenient excuse to put him in difficult situations wherever I like. Jump in, deal with situation, jump out style.


I'll likely use him as a vehicle for world expansion while using the other characters for world depth.


So... I guess I'm doing both? And I may or may not be able to make it last forever. Even now, I'm gaining inspiration for new stories significantly faster than I can write books.


That's how I feel too, Tana. I originally planned to make a huge megaseries based in The Slayer and the Sphinx's world, some of the books telling the side characters' stories, others talking about brand new characters, but then I started writing high fantasy and... well, I'm hooked lol. I'm actually struggling to make myself write Amber Silverblood 2 (which is also in the Slayer/sphinx world) because I want to work on my other stories so much more. Now I'm wondering if I should just start writing one book per each world, and then move onto something new.


Oh, man. It has always been my bane that I always seem to have a lot of series ideas, but I have very few actual story ideas. I'm also the only writer I know whose chapters get shorter on average the longer I write. I burn out quick, never have enough material to flesh out what I got, and while I can come up with a general season-long arc plot, coming up with the actual "episodes" of a serial is difficult.


I think the longest single story I ever did clocked at 90 pages, and I was gunning for "novel length" at the time.


What I did with my erotica, and what I probably should have done with all my old series ideas, was create a single setting, and write a bunch of separate stories within that setting. I think the few worthwhile series ideas I have probably only have two or three stories apiece, but some series I've only written the first "pilot" issue and realized I pretty said all I was going to, and left it at that.


The single longest series I ever did manage to write was a really lame superhero series that got 14 issues and 2 specials done, although a few more issues were made in reboot attempts, if you'd count that. Each issue was usually about ten pages long for normal issues, and 20 for specials.


Longest running comic I drew actually reached 7 issues and 1 spin-off, whereas I almost never got more than one issue done out of a single series.


I wish I could write a true serial or even a novel, but it's just not in my skill set. Not sure what you'd call just doing a bunch of separate short stories in one setting, but that seems to be my inevitable style.


Too many ideas. Not nearly enough time. Such is the curse of the artist. One of these days, someone will cure sleep, and then I'll have 50% more ideas that I'll never get a chance to do...


I actually have a concept for a comic series... but I don't have time to draw that shit... writing for me is *easy*, and I'm not awful at drawing... I just get sick of drawing the same character over and over and over and... yeah... It's the perfectionist in me, I think. I go the whole nine yards with skeletons and shading so it takes forever to make each character.


Hey, if I could draw I'd probably switch to comics entirely. But I can't, and I don't have the patience to learn... so I won't.


I've enough material to last ... a while. Although it pales next to the Perry Rhodan series. But then, pretty much everything does!


"As of April 2016, more than 2850 booklet novels have been published totalling some 160,000 pages."


Most of my art skill has completely rusted through, so it's not like I could go back to comics even if I wanted to. (Although admittedly, some ideas would probably work best that way.)


Although I recently tried my hand at some sprite art. Goofy as that stuff tends to be, I could maybe be arsed to do an original sprite art comic, if I could ever figure out a decent story for one.


Only done two longer stories. Ten year ago I dropped one at some 230 K words after finishing book two. Currently I'm at 210 K on the story I'm writing. This time the information-layout is entirely different, and as I don't have to worry about each volume being a self-contained story I just dump 60K volumes totally disregarding where I am at the end of a volume.


For me it's easier writing this wqy, and I'll just continue until whenever. As long as there's more story to be told I'll tell it.


Baby, I can go as long as I need to.


The raw version of WDiR is spread across three different text documents on 2 different laptops, broken up that way because the first one got too long to pull up in a short amount of time and then I got a new laptop so started a third one. They aren't necessarily uniform in size so far, but the version I'm working off of now goes all the way back to December 2014 and has just under 350k words. The series as a whole has been running since January 27th, 2013.


And I'm not nearly tapped out of stories yet.


I started writing The Legion of Nothing in November 2007. It's still going today (May 2016). Assuming I miss a couple updates per year (which was more likely to happen in the first two years) and that the average update is 1000 words, I'm nearing 900,000 words (roughly 9 books). So far each year has been roughly equivalent to a novel, though the second and third years were really one book, and the fourth year was a series of short stories and novellas.


So, roughly a novel a year. The first three books work as a trilogy. Everything after that is more Dresden Files in style in that they're potentially standalone books that use different antagonists, but all relate to each other.


At some point, I'll pull it all together into some sort of big climax, but that could be at 2 million words for all I know.


NIU has always had a concrete endgame and I'm three-eighths done, give or take. Someone said that 230k words is way too much for them. I think I've already passed that (even if you don't count side stories,) and, as I mentioned before, I'm not even half done. It is all building up to something, then I'm moving on to a different work. Of course, you can do it differently. Everyone here will have different methods for doing things, and over time, you're going to find a method that works for you.


Another thing: The number of people on this forum who've been doing this for around ten years is pretty small. Heck, most people here I'm willing to bet haven't been writing web serials for five.


I feel like there's always more you can write about. Consider "Doctor Who", which has been running for more than 50 years (granted with something of a break in there), and is still able to come up with stories. That said, I think I CAN write to a specific end goal, if I must... I did a "JulNoWriMo" where the plan is 50,000 words, and by putting in a time skip, I wrapped things up not long after that count. It's hard for me though, I'm always seeing possibilities.


As far as the art skill talk, I wrote personified math as a serial for three years, starting with a series of reusable head shots to accompany the text, progressing to an illustrated image every week. Now it's a full blown webcomic with dialogue bubbles. I'm... pretty sure my abilities have improved. Feel free to be the judge of that.


The on I have just started will take as long as it takes to finish. Given it is epic fantasy, that may be a while. I've already got over 70,000 words written and I've barely started - I'm not really even onto the main background arc plot yet. How long will it be? Five hundred thousand? A million words? Two million? We will see when we get to the end.