A series Vs. One book

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!


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


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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Thank you for bringing up the other thread. First time reading it. This has been very insightful, getting the authors and readers perspective.

Tin Star could have been split into a trilogy but I very much enjoyed the work for what it was - a standalone epic read that I hadn’t experienced with interactive fiction until that point. I can’t even begin to imagine what an arduous task the author must have gone through with the coding.

It had one overarching story with engaging sub-arcs to along way to flesh out its world and characters and its long length made the whole journey feel more cohesive and fulfilling. A series on the other hand breaks apart this journey, each installment tending to pick off in a new place from where the previous left off.

It is in my opinion that this constitutes each installment effectively having its own overarching story where an incomplete aspect of the MC receives fulfillment but is not yet ‘whole’ - or at least that’s how I think it should be ideally.

I have mixed feelings about cliffhangers in that regard because they have to potential to violate that ideal of the MC ending an installment having changed or gained something new from where they started, imbuing us with the confidence that they are now qualified for a higher level that is the next stepping stone towards the endpoint.

Series employing cliffhangers at the end of an installment may tease hype for what’s to come next but they also disrupt the MC’s partial completion as they are thrown into a difficult situation with no resolution, diminishing the sense that they have overcome a step in their journey since they are placed in a new context that denies them fulfillment.

Cliffhangers are fine between chapters but I personally feel that if a story is split into a series then each installment should be its own fully defined arc (beginning, middle, end) rather than be left missing a limb. However they can still be effective if they don’t leave the audience completely hanging and show some aura of hope or resolve to face the difficulties ahead, making the journey undertaken so far worthwhile with the strength gained despite the misstep at the end.

But the reality is that most of us have less time and money than we’d like, breaking a overarching narrative down into a series is easier to manage and generates more revenue collectively that a standalone work. How we innovate with these practical constraints and make the narrative of each installment worthwhile on its own rather than stretching out a plot point into redundancy is up to individual skill.

Personally I prefer one fully formed book over a series but I know in most cases that is asking for too much, hence simply hope that each installment can actually have its own backbone as it builds up a bugger picture. Each installment should be able to justify its own existence in context to the overarching narrative.

Of course one book doesn’t necessarily have to be a big piece. Choice of the Dragon is fairly short and doesn’t really need a sequel (as much as I’d like one) and manages to tell just the right amount of story with a fair amount of replayability before ending on a satisfactory note.


For Choice of Rebels, the answer is definitely the former. It began as a one-game concept (as the text in death.txt suggests, for those who have a copy and can read the code), had grown to two games by the time I officially pitched it to CoG, and continued to grow in my head until it reached five games–where I intend to plant my flag and go no further.

The decision had nothing to do with making more money; I’ve no idea whether five linked games will ultimately make more than five separate ones. But–unlike @jeantown, who’s stuck to her guns on the idea of not publishing the completed Guenevere Game I until she’s finished the whole series–I wanted to start publishing when I reached the right milestone, and the end of your Robin Hood bandit-in-the-woods phase seemed good.

But are there really that many CoGs with sequels? I feel like the majority are still standalones.


The majority are still standalone, but we currently have: Heroes Rise, the Vampire series, Affairs of the Court (consolidated into one title, still a series), the Deathless series (itself part of a series before the second was released, depending on if you add in the books), Hero of Kendrickstone is turning into a series, Versus, and apparently, Hero Project was spun off into another game (maybe with series potential there?), and also Choice of Rebels.

In total, somewhere between half and a third of the main COG games are part of a series. Hosted Games has a smaller percentage, but we still have the Community College Hero series, Zombies Exodus series, Lost Heir series, Lords of Aswick series, Way Walkers series, Haunting Cassandra series (Sons of Cherry and Nightmare Maze), Infinite Sea series, and Samurai of Hyuga series.

I’d say we have a lot. Granted, it’s kind of a consequence of the company continuing to run for… definitely the better part of a decade?
I want to say nine or more years.

Also, the amount of times I’ve had to edit this post to add more series is both a testament to how many there are, and a testament to my inability to write a post.


I’m working my way through the Craft sequence now – with great pleasure, I should add – and I don’t know if the Deathless CoGs should really count as a series, since (like all the Craft books I’ve read to date) they’re standalone novels which can be read in any order. They’re set in the same world, but does that really make them a series?

Bookburners, now, that’s a Max Gladstone series.

And your point is well taken. Another way of looking at it, though, is that of the 14 games CoG has released so far in 2017, only Rebels is part of a series. Of the pre-2017 ones, AotC and HR are complete, and the Deathless books are standalones. So the still-unfinished series are Vampire, Kendrickstone, Hero Project, Versus, and Rebels, representing 1/10 of the seventy CoG games.


Ooh! Havent heard of that. I need to get back to Gladstone.

As for the Craft Sequence, you have a good point. The City’s Thirst could be part of its own miniseries with Two Serpents Rise and possibly Last First Snow (haven’t read it, desperately need to, I know Temoc’s in it), but other than Dresediel Lex featuring and The City’s Thirst being likely a vaguely distant prequel (considering the lack of Caleb, and Temoc being described as younger than I remember), you have a point. And, well… my count was way, way off. It’s closer to 1/4 if you add completed series and decompress AotC. I blame cold weather and lack of sleep.

Which speaks more to how impactful each series is, that I manage to overestimate them. Or how much more patterns stick out in the brain. Probably the latter.

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I’d read City’s Thirst before I read anything of the novels, and by the time I got to Two Serpents I had only vague recollections of any Dresediel Lex characters except Kopil. (I’d not actually remembered that Temoc was in City’s Thirst, or maybe I didn’t encounter him.) I’m in the middle of Last First Snow now, and enjoying it–though it hasn’t hooked me yet like the three earlier books did. I just read an interview with Gladstone where the interviewer said she wished she’d read Last First Snow first, and then Two Serpents, and he said that would work just as well. :slight_smile:

Lately i’ve been busy so i can’t keep up with CoG and HG in general. So i’m really surprised when i found out a lot of newer game is a series. Wayhaven, Fallen Hero, Champion of God, Keeper of Sun and Moon, etc. What do you think about lots of series popping up? Do you prefer Standalone or Series?

Personal opinion :
Some of these games is fitting for series and i wouldn’t mind waiting for the next one. But some of the other games just makes me felt unsatisfied with the game. It’s not making me want to know the continuity its just makes me sad :(.

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I must admit that I usually prefer standalone these days; even with print books, I tend to steer clear of most series because I don’t like the added time and expenditure a series demands. Ideally any game that aims to be the start of a series should make sure it also works on its own merits. But that is never a guarantee.


I still stand by what I said two years ago:


personally I like a serie . it just have a better flow…

stand alone can be amazing, but more often it feel…rushed somewhere . Sometimes in middle, sometimes toward the end . Leaving me blinking…’‘huh, it’s over already?’’ . Where a serie, it leave you hanging but looking forward to the sequel :stuck_out_tongue:

But both are a pain to write regardless .


I don’t mind either, but I feel as if a each book in a series should be able to stand alone as a complete story that wraps up the major plot points being run through the main part of the book. There can be overaching themes that run through a number of books, but personally not a huge fan of ending right on major cliffhangers though they’re really common in all media (from books to TV series.) It’s ok to have, an “in the future, this looks like it’s going the be the new problem” kind of sudden stop/cliffhanger to give a sneak peak so to speak into the next series, but I hate it when you’ve been working up to a plot resolution the whole story and then it’s like: Major action sequence, who will live or die? Who knows, you’ll have to wait until 2020 to find out:P It’s like if you ended the first hunger games at the point where they’re about to eat the berries instead of at the end of the game where you have a complete arc, but still have a larger one to continue as you know that they’ll be dragged back into capital politics and conflict one way or another. I know it keeps some people coming back, but major cliffhangers just kind of annoy me.

Also unfinished series tend to be a negative strike for me as well. There’s no telling when (ie I gave up on Wheel of time and have never finished reading it though I’d like to now that it finally got done) or even if (looking at you GOT) they’ll be finished, so unless I’m really invested, I often put off starting to read them these days.


I think the biggest criterion should be…can this story fit into a single book? I remember when I was working on MMM and I announced that I was going to make it into a trilogy instead of it being a standalone. A few people were disappointed about this, which kind of confused me.

If a story is going to end up being 900k words total, the smart thing to do is to split it up into installments instead of tormenting yourself for years trying to get it out in one piece. (No offense, Allen Gies. :wink: ) I just think it’s more manageable for both the author and the readers that way.


Yeah, and you can treat it as a bit of a “dipping your toe in the water” approach to the market.

By that I mean, before you spend years on a gigantic novel, I’d (as an author) want to know…is this going to sell? (actually, you should have an idea about this before you even start, but we all have our passion projects)

I mean, what if you spend four years on a huge novel, and it tanks? You could have found that out by releasing a much smaller part 1, and then if/when it tanked, you could have moved on to other projects.


I’m not going to necro-tag someone’s post to quote them, but I agree with the person who said, “you can always add more.”

That’s the thing. You can always world-build further, bring the character back for a new adventure, etc…But you leave your readers feeling betrayed, should you decide to abandon a project that you no longer have passion for/don’t feel is selling well enough/etc., when it was a series.

Series are more enjoyable to read, for me. By a vast margin. When I’m having an insomniac episode (like last night, coincidentally - read the entire Lux series start to finish until like 8 this morning), nothing is better than a story that has overarching plot but doesn’t end. It fills a gap that a standalone novel/game can’t do (that’s where fanfic is born, lmao).

That said, I agree that a standalone novel is probably best for a first attempt. You can always, always, always add more, but you can’t take back the promises you made to your audience.


I say a series is better… but please have reasonable endings for each volume instead of going nuts with cliff hangers.

… Do series around here have to be going forward every volume or can we have volumes where we experience a different protagonist and place on the world?


I’ll probably going for different protagonists. Also gives me the chance for potential stories/spinoffs based on NPC.

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