Some works that I have read tend to be ended in 3/4 novels. But my original plan will be in 10 novels, which includes 1 spin-off novel. What do you think is the best number of volumes in a series? And do you think that a spin-off will be good?

if you had to compare Robert Jordan or Terry Goodkind with someone like Robin Hobbs, as good examples in fantasy serial novels, they all have great followings.

Jordan wrote 11 in the Wheel of Time series (final 12th book to be completed soon from notes left after his death) with (as far as i know) no spin off novels... google WoT groups or The Wheel of Time and you'll see the dedicated following he had...

Goodkind wrote 10 in his series, Sword of Truth, with 1 or 2 spin offs - same thing.

and another quote from her: "It made me remember what I had wanted to be a writer in the first place, and how exciting writing can be when you let the characters run the show."

therefore, do not think where it will end, rather where it is now :)

just plot out your your story novel by novel... and if there's a particularl novel that seems slow in both plot development and character development, condense that novel-plot with another. that'll help cut down your book count.

if you can't find anything wrong with the plot or pacing that way, then your original scheme of 10 books and a spinoff is the right way to go.

but wow, 11 books!!! i'm impressed by that plan -- i know i couldn't do something that long. :) good luck!

I think that 'do what works best!' is probably the best piece of advice to give... different stories and storytelling methods work best with different lengths.

One thing I will say in addition, though... Robert Jordan? I gave up reading his books halfway through the series. Loved the storyline, but found it too hard to keep up with it. I needed to reread the whole series to date every time he released another book, and frankly, I found them damned hard to read in places. And I can read almost anything in a week, I'm not a slow reader. Other, more beloved (by me) writers manage to keep the reader reminded of important plot points without being irritating in their repetition.

So I guess my point is, a long series requires some specific writing skills in order to be done well, that a shorter series doesn't really need. You either need to be able to re-introduce important plot points where they need to be remembered in a way that doesn't irritate the reader, or you need to be able to write books that can stand alone relatively well, but work even better together.

The ideal length of a series is 1 book. Lots of writers -- plenty of people I've known over the years -- come up with bloated, convoluted Wheel of Time-style series, but nobody finishes them because it's not a feasible plan. Start it and I guarantee you'll abandon it somewhere along the way.

Start with a good story that you can finish in 1 book, 3 at most, wrapping up (most of) the immediately relevant plot at the end. Then you can afford to think about expanding the series.



unfortunately jordan got tied in with his publisher and one gets the feeling the last number of books were filled out with a lot of rubbish (including those annoying plot reminders!) to stretch the series for the sake of completing the contract... that's losing sight of the original goal.

i don't think there is a right or wrong in how many books you have in a series, just in how well the story is told. and although winter makes a brilliant point, he would shave the mona lisa if he could ;) lmao

I'm leaning towards Winter's opinion here. Do one first, and if there's more story to tell, another book will come from that.

Thanks for the advices, but it is 10 books, not 11;9 as the main story line and 1 as spin-off. For now I have no plans to cut short or abandon the books, because I already drfating the second book while finishing the updates for the first book. In fact, I considering to add the first book of another story arc when I start the second book of the current story arc. Come to think about it, it seems that I serialize my novels as if I'm serializing RPG series.

Nicole: What _exactly_ are you accusing me of? Because that sounds really, really dirty. :P



@ winter: isn't ambiguity wonderful? sometimes ;)

@ murazrai: good luck with your project - it's an ambitious task but where there's a will to do it, success is one step closer...

Echoing Grant and Ryan:

Do one first, and if there's more story to tell, another book will come from that.

Seems to work well for Jim Butcher, Larry Block, Janet Evanovich, and Robert B. Parker, to name a few series writers.

I'm following a similar train with my serial. Individual, self-contained stories, but with events that overlap and build on the previous.

Then again, if you've already got the 10 novels planned, go for it. More power to you.

In my case, the first 8 are in their own missions before the main characters from them meet up and fight evil together in the 9th novel. The 10th will be a reunion to fight criminals. I don't do series with consecutive plots in this story arc.

Oh dear. Then I'm in trouble. I've got at least ten books in this story...

Oh dear. Then I'm in trouble. I've got at least ten books in this story...

The thing is, if you can tell it, tell it. I go for the one book at a time thing because that what I know works for me. I figure the next serial I want to do is a three-parter, maybe not in terms of the length of three books, but three distinct sections. The thing is, I have to get through one first, or else I have nothing.

Am I making sense? Is it time for me to go to bed? =D

makes perfect sense, grant. bottom line i think is just write. if, after all the editing and shaving, you're left with one book or twenty, it's then the quality of the writing, characters, plot and storyline that will have to do their bit for the reader.

Nicole: The deck's still stacked against you for a series of that size, though. Few people are going to want to read a web-series that they know will take 10 years for the author to complete. That's a serious time investment and the chances of the author actually making it to the end without a meltdown are very very small. And that's presuming it manages to gain any popularity in the first place.

It's a slightly different ballgame from mass-market paperbacks, but it's telling that lots of professional and competent authors get caught running their own series into the ground, let alone less experienced writers without financial backing.

When you start something you can't imagine getting burnt out on it so much that you can't keep it up. However, I've skirted that line too often myself to know that it's very very easy. Nobody I've ever known or heard of has managed to pull off such a long a series without a significant drop in quality -- the only one I've read that was remotely enjoyable to the end is Glen Cook's Black Company 10-book epic, and that's made up of several discrete stories spread out over the books. Even the Black Company gets unsteady in the last few volumes though. That's why I hold that if you can't tell a story in 3 books or less then you need to change the way you're telling it.

I'm not sure that was coherent all the way through, but there you have it. ;)