Author Topic: Standalone, Serial, and Series Questions  (Read 1319 times)  

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Standalone, Serial, and Series Questions
« on: July 04, 2018, 02:42:33 pm »
Hi, a new user here, but a longtime lurker.

Despite reading through several posts, I still find myself confused.  Maybe I'm overthinking things and I might end up confusing others, but some clarification would help.  So there is no confusion about what I'm talking about, this is what I think of the following terms (I am not saying they are the correct definitions, but this is what I think):

Standalone - a completed work where there is a beginning, middle, and end
Serial - several stories that usually end in cliffhangers and need to be read in order (not novel length)
Series - several standalone stories that are connected together in some way

Short Stories <10k
Novelletes 10k-20k
Novellas 20k-40k
Novels >50k

People like to compare serials with TV shows, but aren't there TV shows where it doesn't matter the order you watch the episodes?  Would you still call it a serial or would series be the better word to use?  Then there are series that have to be read in order or can have cliffhangers.  Shouldn't they be serials even if they are novel length?  What about ones where some stories that have something in common like setting or characters need to be read in order, but the rest are basically standalones? Are those series or serial or do they need to be separated?

For editing, how far do you go depending on the length of the story?  Self editing is a must.  For novels, I've seen people go through a bunch of different editors or just need two editors (line and proofreader).  Would you still go through the same process for novellas, novelletes, or short stories or do you trust your editing skills to be enough?

Can't forget the cover questions.  Standalones I feel are pretty simple.  You can DIY, buy premades, hire illustrators, order custom covers, etc.  With serials, you can get away with basically the same cover with slight changes like text and color or image.  Would it be bad form to just only change the text?  For series, different but similar covers is expected.  What about standalone series where only the setting is the same?  Is it possible to have covers not be similar?  A crazy example would be you have a world where there are aliens, supernatural/paranormal creatures, Gods/Goddesses, and magic/super powers/genetically enhanced humans interacting with each other.  If you write one story about space travel and another about a romance with a vampire, can you get away with different covers or would it be expected to have them be connected in some way?

I think that's all I can think of at this moment, but may have more later.

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    Re: Standalone, Serial, and Series Questions
    « Reply #1 on: July 04, 2018, 03:57:39 pm »
    Hi Phoebe,

    As far as definition or serial vs series vs novel and such, there are no rules. Yes, there are television series where it doesn't matter what order you watch the episodes, but there are also shows where it does matter. Like so many things in this industry, the parameters are vague... guidelines really.

    The same applies to your question on editing. If you receive 10 responses to your post, I'm sure you'll read at least six different answers. Personally, I don't self-edit one iota. I hand off 100K words to my editor (who hates me, by the way) and let her earn her money. She is a mean, ruthless woman, but we have sold millions of dollars worth of books working together. Other writers will agree with your assumption. Some people don't use any outside editing.

    As far as your question on covers, I've done it both ways. For my Olympic Device series, I used the same art with different color schemes. For my Apocalypse Trails serial, I use unique artwork for every cover. Funny thing is, through 36 titles and over 4,000 reviews, I've never had a single reviewer comment on a cover, good, bad, or indifferent. Other than attracting the reader's eye at purchase time, I don't think covers matter all that much.

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    Re: Standalone, Serial, and Series Questions
    « Reply #2 on: July 04, 2018, 05:08:39 pm »
    Short = 7k
    Novelette = 7k-17k
    Novella = 17k-40k
    Novel = 40k and up

    Youll get other definitions, but that one comes from the SFWA (Science Fiction Writers of America) which is a highly regarded, longstanding literary organization.

             

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    Re: Standalone, Serial, and Series Questions
    « Reply #3 on: July 04, 2018, 05:24:04 pm »
    As far as definition or serial vs series vs novel and such, there are no rules. Yes, there are television series where it doesn't matter what order you watch the episodes, but there are also shows where it does matter. Like so many things in this industry, the parameters are vague... guidelines really.

    Those questions were mostly so I know how to advertise the stories to readers.  I've read stories about how readers complain when it wasn't labeled correctly like 'it's not a book' or 'it's a serial' or 'it had a cliffhanger'.

    The same applies to your question on editing. If you receive 10 responses to your post, I'm sure you'll read at least six different answers. Personally, I don't self-edit one iota. I hand off 100K words to my editor (who hates me, by the way) and let her earn her money. She is a mean, ruthless woman, but we have sold millions of dollars worth of books working together. Other writers will agree with your assumption. Some people don't use any outside editing.

    I like the sound of your editor and it must cost a lot or maybe you make a decent manuscript for her to go over.  I figured it would be harder to catch mistakes in longer works by yourself, but with shorter works, it might be possible to edit it yourself and not need a writer?

    As far as your question on covers, I've done it both ways. For my Olympic Device series, I used the same art with different color schemes. For my Apocalypse Trails serial, I use unique artwork for every cover. Funny thing is, through 36 titles and over 4,000 reviews, I've never had a single reviewer comment on a cover, good, bad, or indifferent. Other than attracting the reader's eye at purchase time, I don't think covers matter all that much.

    I checked out your books.  To make sure, you made all those covers yourself?  I couldn't tell.

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    Re: Standalone, Serial, and Series Questions
    « Reply #4 on: July 04, 2018, 05:26:50 pm »
    Standalone - a completed work where there is a beginning, middle, and end
    Serial - several stories that usually end in cliffhangers and need to be read in order (not novel length)
    Series - several standalone stories that are connected together in some way

    Serial doesn't require a cliff hanger. Just the need to be read in sequence to be understood. There is a high resistance to cliffhangers, and the only way I'd do these now, is when all the books are ready to go, and they release on very short schedule. Or pre-order on a short schedule, so people can see exactly when the next book is going to be out.

    Serial can also be novel length, and is becoming more common this way.

    My first series is a serial of 13 novels and a short story. My second is a serial of 6 novels. The 3rd is a trilogy. Series 2 makes more sense if you read series 1 first.
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    Re: Standalone, Serial, and Series Questions
    « Reply #5 on: July 04, 2018, 06:05:15 pm »
    Short = 7k
    Novelette = 7k-17k
    Novella = 17k-40k
    Novel = 40k and up

    Youll get other definitions, but that one comes from the SFWA (Science Fiction Writers of America) which is a highly regarded, longstanding literary organization.

    I know about SFWA's definitions, but I like all my numbers to be much simpler so I rounded them.

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    Re: Standalone, Serial, and Series Questions
    « Reply #6 on: July 04, 2018, 06:25:27 pm »
    Serial doesn't require a cliff hanger. Just the need to be read in sequence to be understood. There is a high resistance to cliffhangers, and the only way I'd do these now, is when all the books are ready to go, and they release on very short schedule. Or pre-order on a short schedule, so people can see exactly when the next book is going to be out.

    Serial can also be novel length, and is becoming more common this way.

    My first series is a serial of 13 novels and a short story. My second is a serial of 6 novels. The 3rd is a trilogy. Series 2 makes more sense if you read series 1 first.

    I took a look at your books. Is there a reason you call it series instead of serial?

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    Re: Standalone, Serial, and Series Questions
    « Reply #7 on: July 04, 2018, 06:30:21 pm »
    In romance there are tons of series that a standalone books but have a small tie in to each other. Usually a friend from one book becomes the mc in the next book and so on. Cliffhangers seem to have all but disappeared from the genre. There are a few that have them but not many.

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    Re: Standalone, Serial, and Series Questions
    « Reply #8 on: July 04, 2018, 06:31:13 pm »
    People like to compare serials with TV shows, but aren't there TV shows where it doesn't matter the order you watch the episodes?  Would you still call it a serial or would series be the better word to use?  Then there are series that have to be read in order or can have cliffhangers.  Shouldn't they be serials even if they are novel length?  What about ones where some stories that have something in common like setting or characters need to be read in order, but the rest are basically standalones? Are those series or serial or do they need to be separated?

    For a serial, it's not so much that they have to be read in order, but that it's a long story delivered in a series of short segments. There's less of an expectation of it being a complete story in one installment. Whereas with series, whether the books have to be read in order or not, each installment still has its own story with a beginning, middle, and end. The main plot of a series book will conclude in that same book, but it will have other events that continue on.

    Think of a series in this way--compare the Marvel films to the James Bond films (at least up until the Daniel Craig era).

    Now the James Bond films are generally standalone. Each movie has its own story with a beginning, middle, and an end. And though there are some background elements that carry over into other films (the death of Bond's wife, for example), by and large you can watch those movies in any order you like and you won't be lost for an instant.

    The Marvel films each have a main story that concludes in the same film it began, however, the movies build on each other. So even though you need to watch them in order, I wouldn't call that a serial because each installment has its own story. But there is a continuity there and the later films build on the previous films. So even though Captain America: Civil War and Spider-Man: Homecoming are both standalone stories that begin and end in those movies, you might be lost of you watch Homecoming without first seeing Civil War.

    Also, there's a general expectation among readers that serials tend to be shorter in length whereas series will have longer installments. Length isn't a requirement in the definition of serial vs. series, but that's an expectation that's developed because of the way many people have seen them executed. So be aware of that. Some readers may even have a bias against serials because there was a time when unscrupulous authors were just chopping up a novel into short bits in order to get readers to pay more.

    Quote
    For editing, how far do you go depending on the length of the story?  Self editing is a must.  For novels, I've seen people go through a bunch of different editors or just need two editors (line and proofreader).  Would you still go through the same process for novellas, novelletes, or short stories or do you trust your editing skills to be enough?

    Doesn't even depend on length, it really depends on you. There are some people who, whether they write long or short, need the help of a developmental editor. Other people who have been doing this for a while may be comfortable with just getting a proofreader.

    Quote
    Can't forget the cover questions.  Standalones I feel are pretty simple.  You can DIY, buy premades, hire illustrators, order custom covers, etc.  With serials, you can get away with basically the same cover with slight changes like text and color or image.  Would it be bad form to just only change the text?  For series, different but similar covers is expected.

    There are some serials that have only changed the text on each episode. So yes, you can do that. In general though, be aware that serials can be a tough sale. There was a point where people were doing really well with them, but now not so much. Doesn't mean the tide can't turn again, though.

    Quote
    What about standalone series where only the setting is the same?  Is it possible to have covers not be similar?  A crazy example would be you have a world where there are aliens, supernatural/paranormal creatures, Gods/Goddesses, and magic/super powers/genetically enhanced humans interacting with each other.  If you write one story about space travel and another about a romance with a vampire, can you get away with different covers or would it be expected to have them be connected in some way?

    I wouldn't advise doing something like that for a few reasons. For one, even if each book is a standalone, you'll want some kind of unifying feel to the series. But more than that, I wouldn't advise doing a series where you're mashing a bunch of different genre books together into the same setting because you're really kind of dividing your audience. Some people have done it, I think Michael Anderle's Kurtherian Gambit world crosses genres, but he's definitely an outlier and he's got a lot of people working with him on those books.

    I say try and limit your focus for now. If you want to do a world where you've got aliens, the paranormal, deities, super powers, genetic engineering, etc., that's fine. But to begin with, just focus on the alien part of it and slowly build out. Don't bite off more than you can chew.

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    Re: Standalone, Serial, and Series Questions
    « Reply #9 on: July 04, 2018, 06:37:03 pm »
    I took a look at your books. Is there a reason you call it series instead of serial?

    Each book, with 2 exceptions where I used cliffhangers, is a stand alone book, but part of an overreaching story. I wont be doing cliffhangers again. That was a learning experience I dont want to repeat.


    So the first series covers 2 years in time. Each book covers 3 or so weeks (with several exceptions), and each period has a specific focus. So each book covers a story arc, within a greater story arc.


    Also, calling something a serial isn't really done in SO. Unless its novella or short story sized, which mine isn't.


    The other reason was at the time, I knew nothing of these definitions.  ;D But I still wouldn't call any of my series a serial as a series name.


    Now, if each book had been chopped into 3, and released as novella trilogies, each would be a serial, as part of a larger series. The distinction is the novella trilogies are a single story. And we don't do this, specifically because fans don't like it. It reeks of trying to milk as much money as possible from a series.
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    Re: Standalone, Serial, and Series Questions
    « Reply #10 on: July 04, 2018, 06:41:25 pm »
    In romance there are tons of series that a standalone books but have a small tie in to each other. Usually a friend from one book becomes the mc in the next book and so on. Cliffhangers seem to have all but disappeared from the genre. There are a few that have them but not many.

    I guess too many people dislike them (cliffhangers).

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    Re: Standalone, Serial, and Series Questions
    « Reply #11 on: July 04, 2018, 06:48:40 pm »
    I guess too many people dislike them (cliffhangers).

    Yes, but a lot of people tolerate them from an author they want to read, and a lot more people like them.

    It depends a lot on who is reading your books. The drop off in flow-through after my cliffhangers at the time, was major. It doesn't matter as much now, since people dont have to wait for the next book, but when releasing, the further apart the releases, the worse the reaction to them.

    And take into account, a new author is still demonstrating their ability to deliver, so the first series will define expectations. If you dont release to a regular schedule, are on a long schedule, or worse, dont finish a series, the readers will react by forgetting about you. If you release 2 weekly with the next book on pre-order, you can get away with it. Over a month though, and it's too long for a lot of people to wait. No idea of when the next will be out, and they drop you.
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    Re: Standalone, Serial, and Series Questions
    « Reply #12 on: July 04, 2018, 06:51:18 pm »
    Each book, with 2 exceptions where I used cliffhangers, is a stand alone book, but part of an overreaching story. I wont be doing cliffhangers again. That was a learning experience I dont want to repeat.


    So the first series covers 2 years in time. Each book covers 3 or so weeks (with several exceptions), and each period has a specific focus. So each book covers a story arc, within a greater story arc.


    Also, calling something a serial isn't really done in SO. Unless its novella or short story sized, which mine isn't.


    The other reason was at the time, I knew nothing of these definitions.  ;D But I still wouldn't call any of my series a serial as a series name.


    Now, if each book had been chopped into 3, and released as novella trilogies, each would be a serial, as part of a larger series. The distinction is the novella trilogies are a single story. And we don't do this, specifically because fans don't like it. It reeks of trying to milk as much money as possible from a series.

    I was about to edit my comment when I realized how silly I was for asking that.  I think I got myself confused when you said series of serials.

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    Re: Standalone, Serial, and Series Questions
    « Reply #13 on: July 04, 2018, 06:56:33 pm »
    A serial is a single story broken up into parts; each installment is fundamentally incomplete. Many novels were first released in serial form, including most of Dickens' works.

    My Doc Vandal books are a series; each adventure builds on what's gone before but it also tells a complete story. It's also episodic, I don't have a single overarching story in mind that everything has to fit into.

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    Re: Standalone, Serial, and Series Questions
    « Reply #14 on: July 04, 2018, 07:00:05 pm »
    For a serial, it's not so much that they have to be read in order, but that it's a long story delivered in a series of short segments. There's less of an expectation of it being a complete story in one installment. Whereas with series, whether the books have to be read in order or not, each installment still has its own story with a beginning, middle, and end. The main plot of a series book will conclude in that same book, but it will have other events that continue on.

    Think of a series in this way--compare the Marvel films to the James Bond films (at least up until the Daniel Craig era).

    Now the James Bond films are generally standalone. Each movie has its own story with a beginning, middle, and an end. And though there are some background elements that carry over into other films (the death of Bond's wife, for example), by and large you can watch those movies in any order you like and you won't be lost for an instant.

    The Marvel films each have a main story that concludes in the same film it began, however, the movies build on each other. So even though you need to watch them in order, I wouldn't call that a serial because each installment has its own story. But there is a continuity there and the later films build on the previous films. So even though Captain America: Civil War and Spider-Man: Homecoming are both standalone stories that begin and end in those movies, you might be lost of you watch Homecoming without first seeing Civil War.

    Also, there's a general expectation among readers that serials tend to be shorter in length whereas series will have longer installments. Length isn't a requirement in the definition of serial vs. series, but that's an expectation that's developed because of the way many people have seen them executed. So be aware of that. Some readers may even have a bias against serials because there was a time when unscrupulous authors were just chopping up a novel into short bits in order to get readers to pay more.

    Funny part is that I've never seen a James Bond movie so I'll have to take your word for it.  So basically, if someone were to make novel length serial or a series in this case(?), readers would be more tolerant?

    Doesn't even depend on length, it really depends on you. There are some people who, whether they write long or short, need the help of a developmental editor. Other people who have been doing this for a while may be comfortable with just getting a proofreader.

    Makes sense.

    There are some serials that have only changed the text on each episode. So yes, you can do that. In general though, be aware that serials can be a tough sale. There was a point where people were doing really well with them, but now not so much. Doesn't mean the tide can't turn again, though.

    Considering I couldn't find many serials published recently, I figured as much.  I think the only exception is Serial Box, but it's not really one author though so they don't count.

    I wouldn't advise doing something like that for a few reasons. For one, even if each book is a standalone, you'll want some kind of unifying feel to the series. But more than that, I wouldn't advise doing a series where you're mashing a bunch of different genre books together into the same setting because you're really kind of dividing your audience. Some people have done it, I think Michael Anderle's Kurtherian Gambit world crosses genres, but he's definitely an outlier and he's got a lot of people working with him on those books.

    I say try and limit your focus for now. If you want to do a world where you've got aliens, the paranormal, deities, super powers, genetic engineering, etc., that's fine. But to begin with, just focus on the alien part of it and slowly build out. Don't bite off more than you can chew.

    Hence why it's a crazy example.  It would be interesting, but I think it would get confusing very fast.  You would have to worry about keeping track of all the details.

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    Re: Standalone, Serial, and Series Questions
    « Reply #15 on: July 04, 2018, 07:00:58 pm »
    Yes, but a lot of people tolerate them from an author they want to read, and a lot more people like them.

    It depends a lot on who is reading your books. The drop off in flow-through after my cliffhangers at the time, was major. It doesn't matter as much now, since people dont have to wait for the next book, but when releasing, the further apart the releases, the worse the reaction to them.

    And take into account, a new author is still demonstrating their ability to deliver, so the first series will define expectations. If you dont release to a regular schedule, are on a long schedule, or worse, dont finish a series, the readers will react by forgetting about you. If you release 2 weekly with the next book on pre-order, you can get away with it. Over a month though, and it's too long for a lot of people to wait. No idea of when the next will be out, and they drop you.

    I think that's in general and not just serials, but I guess it really depends on how well someone can pull it off.  Then again with novels, I think readers are a little more forgiving in the wait time.

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    Re: Standalone, Serial, and Series Questions
    « Reply #16 on: July 04, 2018, 07:07:27 pm »
    A serial is a single story broken up into parts; each installment is fundamentally incomplete. Many novels were first released in serial form, including most of Dickens' works.

    Does that mean a story with a cliffhanger isn't necessarily a serial?

    My Doc Vandal books are a series; each adventure builds on what's gone before but it also tells a complete story. It's also episodic, I don't have a single overarching story in mind that everything has to fit into.

    So it's kind of like Harry Potter?

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    Re: Standalone, Serial, and Series Questions
    « Reply #17 on: July 04, 2018, 07:11:59 pm »
    Mine is a serial.  It's not a stand alone and I have to make that VERY clear in the blurb. Even so, I get some 1 and 2 star reviews for having cliffhangers.  On the bright side, the next book should be out before Halloween.

    If I was starting over again...I would have the entire story finished before I published the first book. :)

    I guess some of them weren't reading the blurb which is apparently a thing.  Maybe they saw the cover and title and thought I'm going to read it without further looking.

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    Re: Standalone, Serial, and Series Questions
    « Reply #18 on: July 04, 2018, 07:33:26 pm »
    Does that mean a story with a cliffhanger isn't necessarily a serial?

    At least for most people, cliffhangers are almost synonymous with serials. It is possible to write a book where you complete the plot in that novel and then start a new story in the last few pages and then leave the characters at a cliffhanger that's covered in the next book, and you might be able to argue that it's not really a serial but that's about all I can think of.

    After all, isn't the definition of incomplete that you have to read at least one more part to find out how it ends?

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    So it's kind of like Harry Potter?

    Not really, Harry Potter had a definite progressive arc imposed by the nature of Harry passing from a new first-year student through graduation. What I'm doing is more like the old-school Doc Savage or Shadow pulps where each adventure stands alone, though I am paying a bit more attention to continuity.

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    Re: Standalone, Serial, and Series Questions
    « Reply #19 on: July 04, 2018, 07:59:56 pm »
    At least for most people, cliffhangers are almost synonymous with serials. It is possible to write a book where you complete the plot in that novel and then start a new story in the last few pages and then leave the characters at a cliffhanger that's covered in the next book, and you might be able to argue that it's not really a serial but that's about all I can think of.

    After all, isn't the definition of incomplete that you have to read at least one more part to find out how it ends?

    I was thinking of something else then because I have read a story before there were a lot of loose ends that weren't resolve.  It was a standalone I think because I couldn't find a sequel.

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    Re: Standalone, Serial, and Series Questions
    « Reply #20 on: July 04, 2018, 08:31:47 pm »
    If you don't mind reading romance, then a good serial to examine is by Gina Robinson called Switched at Marriage. It has like 7 installments and she put a new one out every other week, then did a bundle at the end. Since romance expects a HEA at the end, you can see this is a chopped up sequence of events with a little mini story arc in each one that completes but has a new cliffhanger-inducing drama scene at the very end to make you want to read the next one. A novel tends to have a smoother drama/climax curve where most threads are resolved at the end rather than one after the other along the way like a serial.

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    Re: Standalone, Serial, and Series Questions
    « Reply #21 on: July 04, 2018, 08:46:17 pm »
    If you don't mind reading romance, then a good serial to examine is by Gina Robinson called Switched at Marriage. It has like 7 installments and she put a new one out every other week, then did a bundle at the end. Since romance expects a HEA at the end, you can see this is a chopped up sequence of events with a little mini story arc in each one that completes but has a new cliffhanger-inducing drama scene at the very end to make you want to read the next one. A novel tends to have a smoother drama/climax curve where most threads are resolved at the end rather than one after the other along the way like a serial.

    Thank you for the suggestion.  I'll definitely take a look at it.  They appear to be about novella length.

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    Re: Standalone, Serial, and Series Questions
    « Reply #22 on: July 04, 2018, 11:14:57 pm »
    Funny part is that I've never seen a James Bond movie so I'll have to take your word for it.  So basically, if someone were to make novel length serial or a series in this case(?), readers would be more tolerant?

    It depends. Length is just one consideration but not the most important one. In general, I think it's safe to say that readers prefer series with books that have a story that begins and ends in that book, but also has a larger arc throughout the entire series.

    Again, the Marvel films are a great example of this. Each film has its own story with its own villain, but in the background is this larger story involving Thanos and the Infinity Gauntlet. Each movie has a clear ending--the main plotline introduced in every film is resolved by the time the credits roll.

    But watching those movies out of order isn't recommended, because there's a progression not only in terms of characters but also in the overarching story. Things that happen in the films affect aspects of subsequent films. Captain America takes down SHIELD in The Winter Soldier, so now Nick Fury is incognito in Age of Ultron. The destruction of Sokovia in Age of Ultron leads to the Sokovia Accords and Zemo hatching his plot in Civil War. Ant-Man getting captured in Civil War is going to form a big part of the story in Ant-Man and the Wasp. The Hulk stealing the Quinjet and flying off in Age of Ultron leads to him ending up on Sakaar in Thor: Ragnarok. And so on and so on. It's not a serial because each installment has its own story, but those stories still build on what's come before.

    As opposed to a completely standalone series where the books can be read in any order and there's no real continuity to speak of. With the Bond films, the reason they can be watched in any order is because Bond doesn't change. Every movie has the same basic story--Bond gets a mission, spouts a few double-entendres, saves the day, romances the girl, and then roll credits. Each of those films (with one exception) ends with him in the same position he was in when the movie began. And that's why those movies can be watched in any order. I've never read the books, but I understand that Jack Reacher is pretty similar.
    « Last Edit: July 04, 2018, 11:19:15 pm by Perry Constantine »

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    Re: Standalone, Serial, and Series Questions
    « Reply #23 on: July 05, 2018, 07:31:14 am »
    It depends. Length is just one consideration but not the most important one. In general, I think it's safe to say that readers prefer series with books that have a story that begins and ends in that book, but also has a larger arc throughout the entire series.

    Again, the Marvel films are a great example of this. Each film has its own story with its own villain, but in the background is this larger story involving Thanos and the Infinity Gauntlet. Each movie has a clear ending--the main plotline introduced in every film is resolved by the time the credits roll.

    But watching those movies out of order isn't recommended, because there's a progression not only in terms of characters but also in the overarching story. Things that happen in the films affect aspects of subsequent films. Captain America takes down SHIELD in The Winter Soldier, so now Nick Fury is incognito in Age of Ultron. The destruction of Sokovia in Age of Ultron leads to the Sokovia Accords and Zemo hatching his plot in Civil War. Ant-Man getting captured in Civil War is going to form a big part of the story in Ant-Man and the Wasp. The Hulk stealing the Quinjet and flying off in Age of Ultron leads to him ending up on Sakaar in Thor: Ragnarok. And so on and so on. It's not a serial because each installment has its own story, but those stories still build on what's come before.

    As opposed to a completely standalone series where the books can be read in any order and there's no real continuity to speak of. With the Bond films, the reason they can be watched in any order is because Bond doesn't change. Every movie has the same basic story--Bond gets a mission, spouts a few double-entendres, saves the day, romances the girl, and then roll credits. Each of those films (with one exception) ends with him in the same position he was in when the movie began. And that's why those movies can be watched in any order. I've never read the books, but I understand that Jack Reacher is pretty similar.

    Thanks for the clarification.

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