When I conceived the idea for my first mystery/suspense novel, Mixed Messages, my goal was to write a stand alone novel. I planned to introduce and develop my characters, tell their story and, by the end of the book, tie up any loose ends, leaving the reader satisfied. My plan is still basically the same but my goal has changed.
As I got further and further into writing my novel, I realized that, for various reasons, I didn't want to say "goodbye" to my characters; they had more to say and do. So, I decided to write a sequel, Unfinished Business. Surprise, surprise. I'm now in the early stages of plotting the third novel in the series. My characters refuse to let me go.
While I've read and enjoyed many stand alone novels, I've found that they often leave me wanting more; I want to know where the story and the characters go from there. I love reading mystery series because I like getting to know the characters and following them from book to book. For example, I eagerly await V is for Vengeance by Sue Grafton. I will be sad when I finish reading the last in the A-Z series because Kinsey Millhone has become almost like a friend to me, as have some of Sue's other characters. Also, I've recently read Scared Stiff by Annelise Ryan and I'm eager to read the other books in her series. Her main character, Mattie Winston, is absolutely hilarious; I laughed out loud as I read. And, there are so many others.
I realize that stating that my characters won't let me go may sound silly to anyone who doesn't write fiction but I'm convinced that other writers get it. The proof of that, I think, is in the publication of so many series. While authors like Sue Grafton sign on from the start to write a series, I believe that many others find themselves in the same position that I did. The first novel is finished but the characters are begging for a second book to be written. And a third. . . .