Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Series overload

I realized last night that one of the contributing factors to my reading blahs is series overload. At least two of the books I'm working my way through are part of a series. One is the 5th book in the series and the second is the 4th (and final) in a series. I adore both authors, but I believe I've gotten to a point where I just want things to end.

In the second set, we're in the fourth and final book. And it looks like we're going to get a resolution to the events that have followed through the series. But I'm to the point where I don't even care how it ends. I've been trying to finish this one for months.

In the other set, there is no end in sight for the series (as far as I know, maybe there is). In fact, the sixth book just came out. And I have to say, I think I'll skip it. While I love the author's writing, I'm burned out on her world and want something new. Or if I have to have the familiar, I'd rather we return to the main characters from book 1 and 4. The main couple in book 5 is sort of a yawn fest for me.

And this is the conundrum for anyone that writes genre novels were series are common - how do you keep things fresh and keep your audience interested? I heard Kim Harrison speak once at a book signing. As she talked about her series, she talked about how the book we were all there to have signed ended a particular arc and that the next book (she was contracted for a few more) would begin the next arc for her main character. I think that's what I'm missing, at least in series 1, we've had essentially the same big picture arc now for 5, going on 6 books. Get on with it! Let's move on.


Sheila said...

The problem is, the average American seems to be in love with series. They want something new but not completely unfamiliar. They love story arcs and character growth.

When I was a kid, we called those "soap operas", and we made fun of them almost all the time. After all, you could go away for six months, and nothing significant would have changed. They were like watching paint dry.

I find it interesting that while daytime dramas are in serious decline, many of their characteristics have moved on to prime time, the movies, and of course, books. So we get the slow evolution of characters, the story arcs that drag on forever. Stories aren't complete stories anymore, they're just episodes in the ongoing saga.

Which is fine when the writing is good and remains strong, but as you observe, it doesn't always. {sigh}