A series Vs. One book

So I’ve noticed that a lot of the stories I like are part of a series. How do you guys feel about the longer stories that span 3-4 books vs one book with all of the content crammed into it? Is there a limit to how much you can put into one book or is the content split into parts in order to make more money off of them? I’ve been reading with choice of games since the start I feel and I can see how much time and effort goes into these games. Just very curious as to why now there are so many books that are split into parts now.

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As I know it, before e-book (or even internet) is a thing, publishers had to split some writings into a series. This way, they can keep the printing cost low while still making decent money.

But now, I think a book is a book when the story is self-contained within a book…
Umm…

I mean, some stories are too big to fit into a single book, so the writer probably decided to split them into several books, if that makes sense :sweat_smile:

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I lean towards self-contained novels than reading a series of them. This isn’t a hard rule, but I often find that brevity is indeed the soul of wit.

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Let’s consider a few things:

Writing takes time. Doubly so for Choicescript stories where you also add code.

It’s an art form to say a lot with few words and keep it enjoyable. I can think of few authors who manage to hold the balance perfectly (David Gemmell is always a good start though).

The bigger a story the more effort the author put into it the higher the renumeration they’d expect.

If you have a story to tell that takes a lot of words to be told you don’t want to slave away for years on end to have a monolithic product which ultimately people don’t care for. Conversely, said people probably don’t want to gamble a lot of money on one big product they might not like in the end.

It’s just sensible if you have a bigger story to tell.

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I had originally planned on making my Magician series one massive book of about 750k words. However, over time, I decided to split it into a trilogy because it’s much less unruly that way. Three books of 250k each are much more manageable, and they’re still long enough that they should be satisfying to readers. :slight_smile:

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The only problem I have with a series is that sometimes I lose interest in the story when it takes too long for the next part. Thats the reason I prefer reading it all in one book. Its like binge watching my favorite tv show.

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I saw you had a WIP but I haven’t found a chance to read it yet. In a case where the story is that long, I think I would prefer it broken up though. I think the longest story up may be Tin Star. It was long, but I didnt feel as if I couldnt wait for it to end. The opposite in fact. So maybe it depends on the writer…

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Yeah, fans can certainly start to lose interest if the sequels don’t come out at least every two years or so, I’ve found. My goal is to get each of these installments out in a year, though.

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I think it depends on the type of story itself.

If there is only one major plot in the story, and the story revolves around just one conflict/event, I think the author should go for a single book, because dividing it would kill immersion like anything.

On the other hand, if the story is like an epic–with several plots/arcs and multiple incidents, breaking it into a series is often better.

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I’m going a bit off topic here, but I want to make a point to all the prospective writers out there:

I strongly recommend that the first interactive fiction book you write be a stand-alone novel. You will learn so much during that process that a clean slate afterwards is ideal. Everything down to how you code in choicescript to your character stats will change and improve.

For Fatehaven (my first book), I realized how much I disliked writing in second person and present tense. If I had made it part of a series, I would’ve been miserable!

There are a thousand aspects that only experience will help you figure out. What scenes felt easiest for you to write? What stats did you most make use of? What characters did people most enjoy interacting with? How much forum engagement is ideal? What about romance options and gender-locking?

Anyway, that’s the end of my advice/rant!

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i didn’t expected that, coz i love how Fatehaven was written :star_struck:

I agree with MultipleChoice that a single book is such a massive and educational endeavour that it’s crazy to plan a series right away.

In the world of novels, the second book in a trilogy sells way less than the first book, and the third sells less than the first but more than the second. However, you end up with a higher number of sales over all, because the second and third books inspire people to read the first.

I think cliffhanger endings in books are just cruel. And it’s almost unforgivable if a book doesn’t resolve the main question of its plot for book after book.

Some dangling strings are fine, and a series of self-contained books featuring the same characters can be a lot of fun for both fans and readers.

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Speaking as one of @Felicity_Banks 's “crazies” I have to totally agree with both her and @MultipleChoice in their advise to new authors/developers of CS games. Developing a stand-alone game would lead to a much higher chance of success for developing a multi-part series later.

The only excuse I have for attempting such a huge endeavor of a multi-part game series is my prior experiences in gaming had prepared me somewhat. I have also lucked out on the quality of my testers and advisors. Without all the positives I had on my side, I don’t think I would have been close to succeeding.

There is a lot of things you have to plan for and consider to write a series. The mechanics and stats involved are but one area that you really have to think about for example.

Will your chosen stats carry over from one game to the next? Even they do work across multiple games, will you need to worry about stat inflation or perhaps to keep your structure working you need to retcon the stats in different ways. And if you do need to make changes, how will your fans and loyal customers handle such changes? And so on …

This is not even touching the traditional fiction concerns of a series.


As a reader/gamer, I love both types - stand alones and series. I’ll admit that I prefer series because I read very fast and go through most stand-alones that are under 600 pages in a couple of hours but that doesn’t detract from my enjoyments of well executed stand-alones.

I’m not as hard on cliff-hangers as Felicity - as long as the main question or questions are answered I am ok with however the author decides to end the narrative. Each book/game of a series should deal with such a main question from start to finish though and not string it out.


Finally, I wanted to thank both @Felicity_Banks and @MultipleChoice for sharing their experiences and knowledge. The fact that they both take time to help new developrs/authors means a lot and adds quite a bit to our community and they are sometimes not given enough credit for doing this. :two_hearts:

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In most other universes I’m a teacher. Mostly I just love to talk (in case anyone hadn’t figured that out).

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Ya ya ya! I echo Devon @MultipleChoice’s advise!

As ppl always said, “teacher is the best experience.” :ok_hand:t4:

I had originally planned Fallen Hero as a single book. Alas, when translating it into choicescript I realized that it was ballooning so much I had to split it up. What was a nice, hefty book in prose turned to three times the length in game, not even counting the actual code. But where to put the breaks in the story was so hard.

Personally, I like series more than single books. Most games I’ve played here (apart from Tin Star, Robots and Slammed) felt like they didn’t have a satisfying end as a single volume. I wanted more. I think it has a lot to do with pacing, you spend so much time establishing your character that the inevitable showdown feels too short in comparison. I’m on the fence about Gaslight, some endings capped the story nicely, some made me feel like there should have been more.

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Thing is though, if you plan to write a single volume and wrap it up, if lots of people like it, you can always write additional stories in the same universe. I think Deathless does that nicely, where each book is self contained but leaves everything open enough for sequels. Particularly since sequels can take so long to write, I think it’s kind of nice if the books can stand alone rather than being cliff hangers if at all possible.

You are right though, particularly games that spend a bit of time establishing the character +/- world setting, can take a chunk out of the story time meaning they need to be longer than you were expecting (as most authors end up finding) or the stories can sometimes get a little rushed. I find endings the hardest to write and wrap up well in if fiction. That may have something to do with it rather than them needing to be longer. I’d imagine I’m probably not the only one with that problem (I hope :sweat_smile:)

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Yeah, that was what I planned. Unfortunately the story I wanted to write was too long for a single volume. But, that’s life and I’m willing to take that blow.

I don’t find endings hard to write, beginnings however… that is tricky!

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Beginnings are easy compared to endings!
I’m sensing we can do a collaboration deal here :laughing:

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Great responses on here, I always enjoy hearing the experiences of other authors as well as readers. While I agree that making a single game as your first attempt (in hindsight, since I’m one who chose a series off the bat) would probably have been easier as a first shot with CS and publication, I’ve also explained why we didn’t choose that and the good outcomes of breaking it up in the past.

As far as when I am enjoying other CoG and HG works, I don’t tend to have a preference as long as the story is enjoyable and wraps up satisfactorily (at least eventually).

There were some great insights from other authors on what they learned and why they chose sequels over a single game on this thread, as well. You might be interested in taking a peek.

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