Thinking About Series: Books, Movies, Blog Posts, Podcasts and...TV

Thursday, May 09, 2019
Recently, Game of Thrones came back after almost a year (I think--I can't keep up) between Season 7 and Season 8 (or Season 7, Part deux--again, I can't keep up). I have watched every single episode, even waiting urgently at times for the next to come out until...this season. I haven't watched a one. I did break down and read some blog posts to see if anyone had died or anything exciting had happened with the characters I love. Most critics seem to think I'm not missing much, except for the Starbucks cup that supposedly ended up in one scene and made it through countless edits. See that photo below.

Courtesy of HBO? It's appeared so many places all over the Internet, but I found it here:
Anyway, I wondered if my lack of interest was merely that this is a series that has gone on for so long and only airs a few months at a time. Plus, since it's aired, I binged Downton Abbey and The Americans, which I like far better. Wondering about my lack of interest for GOT led me to think about the poll we recently did on social media. On WOW!'s Facebook page, we created a poll asking readers if they preferred a series or a standalone book. Since everyone who writes about book marketing and making money seems to think series are the way to go, it was interesting that STANDALONE books were basically 2 to 1 preferred for readers in our poll, on Twitter and Facebook.

I'm not saying that I don't love a series. I do. But I do find my enthusiasm for a series waning after a while--this has happened to me with books and film/TV, and I don't know if it's because authors/screenwriters try to keep a series going longer than it should or if it's me or if it's a combination of about a million other reasons.

I'm asking myself this as I work on a picture book sequel for Maggie Mae, Detective Extraordinaire: The Case of the Missing Cookies, and as I work on another picture book that is not a series--but has series potential. And as I think about that novel I finished last year that needs to be revised and is currently a standalone. Should I be thinking readers want MORE of the same? I wonder sometimes if I even have series potential in my creative blood.

One thing that several people said in the social media poll and that I've heard about many formats is that if the episode or book or screenplay is well-written, people don't really care that much about series or standalone--they just want something good.

So how about you? As a consumer of stories and a writer, too--do you prefer standalone or series or does it matter?

Margo L. Dill is a writer, speaker, editor, instructor, and mom, living in St. Louis. You can find out more about her writing on her website here, her editing business here, and the classes she teaches for WOW! here


Sioux Roslawski said...

Margo--Most of the books I read are stand-alone ones. There are some exceptions. The Harry Potter series. The Hunger Games books.

What I don't like is when I am forced to read the 2nd, 3rd and 4th book in a series because I MUST know how the whole shebang ends. I think it's difficult to keep the momentum going when it comes to a series. When I'm sucked into a series--and then I'm disappointed--I'm a bit surly.

Good luck. I'm sure you will make the right decision. And having lots of directions to go when it comes to publishing? That's a wonderful problem to have.

Cathy C. Hall said...

Oh, this is an excellent question because I generally will shy away from episodic programming. I don't like feeling anxious and confused if I miss an episode so I just won't watch. But if each one can stand alone...that is, the story mostly gets all the loose ends tied up though there may be one arc that continues, I'll watch. CALL THE MIDWIFE comes to mind. I love that program because I love the characters. It's excellent writing but I'm very invested in the characters.

So I'll watch (or read) a series for the characters more than the story, I think. Conversely, if I'm not that crazy about a character or characters OR if it's just the same story week after week (or book after book), I'll bail. THE WALKING DEAD COMES TO MIND in this category.

AND if there's too much time between novels or programming, I lose interest. I know that in many series for children, the books come out in fairly quick succession. The authors are often writing one after another or at the same time! Harry Potter was probably an exception to this. But very few books can be a Harry Potter hit.

My favorite thing is to find a series--usually a mystery series--with a character I love and all the books have come out. Then I can read ALL the books back to back to back. Now that's reading heaven to me. :-) (Same with TV programming...I watched Longmire after the run had ended. It was a sad, sad day when I saw the last one. Ahhh, Longmire. I LOVED that character.)

Renee Roberson said...

I'm one of those people who responded that they prefer standalone books on the survey! I will binge a whole podcast series like "Dr. Death" or a TV series on Netflix, but I prefer to do it all in one binge and would rather not wait two to three years between series!

Margo Dill said...

Sioux: Yes, options are so great nowadays. We should count our lucky stars.

Cathy: I am a lot like that too--I am so happy to find something that i missed when it was trendy and current and catch up now--that's true for books, TV, movies, Podcasts, etc. I loved that series:NO 1 Ladies Detective Agency--that one is similar to what you were describing. Love that main character!

Renee: Me too! I love to binge. But I do try to keep myself in check. SO I say I binge in healthy way! HA!

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