Monday, June 17, 2013

Please Just Stop--Knowing when Enough is Enough in your Series

There are few things in the world of reading worse then books and series that go on too long.  We've seen this in TV.  Shows that are continued not because they're good or fresh anymore, but because they're still making some money.  You know what I'm talking about.

But I think it's sad when this goes on too long.  Wouldn't you rather see a series end leaving you wanting more then one that's dragged on so long you almost want to give up on it.  The characters have been so developed, there's no room left.  The plot twists that were so great in the first two or three books and starting to feel old and worn out by book 9.

Now, there are two types of series in my opinion when it comes to books.

The first is a series that has an over-all plot.  It's a series made for the sake of telling a good story that just happens to be too long to fit in one volume.  I'm talking about series like Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, and A Series of Unfortunate Event.  If you read just one of these books, you would feel drawn to the rest of the series.  It's more than just the sum of its books.

Then there are books like the Nancy Drew Series.  Great books in themselves, but there's no overarching plot-line.  It's simply a bunch of books following the same characters.  You could read any one book and not be confused.  You could read them out of order.  It really doesn't matter.

And I really don't hate either or these types of series.  My first two novels were in plot arc type of series.  My current novel is a new series where each book could be a stand alone.  But what makes me really sad is when a book crosses from the first type of series into the second.

The example I'm going to use is The Ranger's Apprentice series by John Flanagan.  Please don't hear me say I don't like this series.  I do.  HOWEVER.  It has made me sad and frustrated for a few months now.

John Flanagan wrote an excellent novel that could have been a stand-alone in The Ruins of Gorlin.  Great book.  Witty, cute, funny.  Promising.

And then he continued the character development and growth in Burning Bridge through Battle of Scandia.  It could have been the end.  Should have been, some might even dare to say.  But it wasn't.  Flanagan followed up with his first four books with a roughly two year jump to Sorcerer of the North and Siege of Macindaw.  I'm glad for this, because Socerer just so happens to be my favorite of the books.

But then, he really could have stopped.  The hinted romance of the book had been fulfilled.  The boy we met and fell in love with in the first book had developed into a man.  Flanagan didn't stop, though.  Instead, we jumped back in time with Eric's Ransom, a stand alone.  Then we jumped forward in time for The Kings of Clomel and Halt's Peril, two books that were tied together, not stand-alones.  Then, we ended (or so we all thought) with book 10, The Emperor of Nihon-Ja, another stand alone with all the same characters we met in book one.  Now both romances are well and truly cleared up, along with a third thrown in for luck.  And John Flanagan went on record saying he's always wanted to write a 10 book series and now he was done.

I was glad.  While I liked the characters still, the last four, especially the last three, books had lacked the depth that made the first 6 so great.  I was excited to see how Flanagan would filter his creative talent into a new set of characters for me to fall in love with.  He did this really well with the Brotherband Chronicles.  Yeah!  I gobbled them up.  Great books set in the same world with a few of the same characters.  Perfect!

And then Flanagan released book 11.  I was a little mystified, but it was a collection of short stories.  Great! A different thing with characters I loved.  Fine.

And that's the last I thought of my slight frustration with this elongated series.  Until I stumbled across a Ranger's Apprentice cover I didn't recognize.  That's right.  Book 12 , the Royal Ranger, will be released November 5th.

It might be great.  It might be the best book yet.  And I'll probably read the book.  But really?  I'll be a little sorry that this series didn't stop earlier, that it didn't leave a little more room for my imagination to be left to its own devices to continue the characters I've loved into new worlds and stories.  So yes, Will Treaty's story will be told completely.

But this means that there will be no room left for me to bring myself into the story.  I'm really worried that I won't be able to add myself to the story and add futures to these characters.  Their entire lives are told.  Period.  End of sentence.  No need for reader imaginations here.  And in my opinion, if you can't add anything to the story, what's the point in reading it?

Wow.  This is a seriously long post.  Sorry 'bout that.  This is my word to authors everywhere.  If you made these brilliant characters once, you can do it again.  And we can't wait for you to bring us another set of people for us to fall in love with.  Don't be afraid to start something new.

What do you think?  Are there some series that were cut a little too short?  Or your personal pet peeves of all the series that went on a book or two too long?  Leave me a comment and let me know.

P.S.  I didn't have to look up any of the Ranger Apprentice titles.  Am I the only one who finds that a little sad?  More proof that I eat, sleep and breath books.

9 comments:

  1. Oh I totally agree!! I can already name several shows off the top of my head that just went on for *too* long. I can't say I've encountered too many series like that though.

    Great post!

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    1. Yeah. There are a couple shows I grew up with and now I look at them and they're in their 26 season or something like that.
      And sometimes it's not series. Sometimes I read books and climaxes of epilogues just go on and on. I wish they would leave me wanting more instead of putting the book down with 20 pages left because I don't care about the story anymore.
      Thanks for reading!
      ~Sarah

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  2. I haven't read the serie you point out here, but I totally get your point. They should know when to stop and not continue for the sake of continueing.

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    1. Sometimes I wonder how much it is lazyness or fear that they can't repeat their success and how much its their publisher pushing them to write more sure-fire best sellers.
      Thanks for stopping by!
      ~Sarah

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  3. I totally agree! I absolutely hate it when people just make books a series to make money, especially if I love it, because then I kind of hate it, if that makes sense. Of when stand alone books are turned into series to make money. Ugh. I could go on forever. Great post! :)

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    1. Yeah. I could go on for a long time too, as is evident by my lengthy post.
      Thanks for stopping by!
      ~Sarah

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    2. Great post, and example. I stopped the Ranger's Apprentice for exactly this reason.

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    3. Thanks. I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks this is a problem.
      ~Sarah Faulkner

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  4. I had thought about this, but you sum it up perfectly. *laughs*

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Comments are awesome, rudeness is not. 'Nough said.