This was going to be post about the Self Contained Story (yes, I do think capitals are necessary here), but actually having just read the first of yet another trilogy this is now going to be the post about the seeming disappearance of the Stand Alone Novels.
I’m sorry, but where have they gone? Over the past few months I have taken days of my life to read novels which have turned out to be just a ‘set up’ book. Pages are turned, just for me to learn there is going to be a sequel. And why do we need said sequel? Because the initial offering just acted as a prologue, albeit a 300 page one. For some readers of course this will spur them onto buying the next installment. I, on the other hand, become infuriated. I cannot be the only one, surely?
This is not to say that I don’t relish a good sequel, but only when it is warranted. Further to that, I wholeheartedly agree that in recent years some of the best fiction has been produced in Trilogy/series format. It does not mean, however, that automatic success (literary, critical and commercial) can only come from the multiple story.
I realise on a purely business level, the prospect of allowing a favoured character another adventure is gold. The readership is in place, the branding is done – you can now watch the money roll in. BUT if the initial story suffers as a result, if it has been stretched and reorganised so that only a sequel can be possible then we have a serious problem. I think as the shelves are overtaken by countless trilogies and series’ the wrong message is being sent to authors new and old. Stand Alone Novels aren’t really welcome.
On the other side of things you have the author who writes that brilliantly crafted novel. One which was written in mind of being a one off. And then it’s a success and oh my lordy WE JUST NEED MORE! But do we? No we don’t – ok well not all the time. Because in my opinion quite a few of the spin offs and follow ons just pale in comparison to the original.
So what is the solution?! I hear you cry. Maybe it’s just better judgement from all parties (I’m including the readers here) involved. For people to know when to stop whilst they’re ahead. To savour and stand up for the Stand Alone Novel. I’m just a bit fed up of this growing trend of the ‘starter novel’; am I the only one?