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Friday, March 26, 2021

A Series of Questions

I've been saying to myself "oh, I really should write a blog post" for about the past week or so. Honestly, I don't have a whole lot to report. Progress on Surrendering the Skies, Book 3 of the series I'm rebooting, is coming along nicely. I would estimate I'm somewhere between a third and halfway through, and I've got a pretty good outline for the whole thing. (As well I should, as this has been floating around in my head for years.)

As I've been writing, I've been thinking of how this book will fit into the series as a whole, and various issues relating to doing a series in general. First, I should preface this by saying I admit I have not read a series in a long time. Free time for hobbies is limited these days, and I try to spread it around evenly. Due to that, I've definitely had a preference for standalone books the past few years. I know, I know, good readers make good writers, blah blah blah. But there are only so many hours in the day, you know.

One big issue I've been thinking about whether or not it's important for each book of a series to be able to stand on its own. As always, there's no one right answer. I read a lot of the Anita Blake series in high school and college, and I started with Book 9, Obsidian Butterfly, because I got it as a birthday gift from a friend who worked at Barnes & Noble when it came out and he liked the cover. (Hey, there are worse reasons!) Interestingly enough, Obsidian Butterfly is kind of the "side quest" of the series, in which Anita takes a vacation from all the drama in her life. So, that kind of answers the standalone question and actually made it a decent book to start with. I continued on with #10, Narcissus in Chains, liked that too, and then went allllll the way back to the beginning.

(Then I quit after #12, Incubus Dreams, and learned a few years later that I was not alone in stopping at that exact point, but THAT is another topic for another day.)

Then the other full series I've read in recent years is The Hunger Games trilogy. (I have not gotten to the new fourth book yet, but that's a prequel anyway.) I started at the beginning, and I can't think of a single person who has started anywhere other than with Book 1. I'm sure they exist, but I can't imagine reading that series out of order. Also, I did read the first Outlander book a few years ago but didn't continue with the rest of them, and that seems like another one where people tend to start at the beginning.

So, my Skies series. I've said before that back when I wrote the first one, I never had any plans for it being a series, which I guess fits in with me being more of a pantser than a plotter anyway. When I wrote Book 2, Defying the Skies, I did make an effort to make it accessible to readers who hadn't read the first one. Now, with Book, not so much. I mean, since it's not really a complex world, I guess readers could start here and figure out the context quickly, but it's not a priority for me this time around. And unless someone whose opinion I value tells me otherwise, I'm sure I will be at the point of barely caring at all about this issue by the time I get to #4 out of the planned five.

Which reminds me, I will eventually need a better outline for #5 than I have now, but I don't need to worry about that yet, right? (Pantsers unite!)

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