I am appalled to think that I just might be one of those people, who has a very strong opinion about something and then at the moment that I have made that opinion public, either by posting it on my blog or facebook page; I then find that maybe my initial opinion is not as strong as I thought. The subject is my opinion on Series, Sequels and Prequels.
My initial opinion is thus.
As a reader, I don’t like getting to the end of a book, only to find that in order to find out what happens, I have to buy another book, and then another, and then another. So, I had made up my mind, in the spirit of “do unto others” therefore, that I would not write any kind of a series.
Regarding TV series, I am of somewhat the same opinion; however, if you look at a show like Bonanza, yes I have to pick a historical one, even though the characters are the same in each episode, each story arch is autonomous and comes to a conclusion at the end of 60 minutes. I am beginning to hate modern TV shows like Castle, because even though the detective side of the episode comes to a conclusion, there is a back arch that bleeds into the next episode, meaning that you can’t watch them out of order and if you miss one episode, it might just be the crucial one that explains exactly how Beck comes to the conclusion that she now wants to have a romantic relationship with Castle. It ends up making you a slave to it.
That being said, I do very much enjoy the British shows that have a story arch continue for maybe two to eight episodes and then it comes to a complete conclusion. The reason that I really like this idea is that in the US they try to cram all of this information into 60 minutes, and they don’t take enough time for the story to develop properly. I really like that the UK can take two hours and maybe quite a few more in which to tell the story and when it concludes, it feels like you really did watch a good movie, instead of a Wham-Bam show that is on steroids.
Ok, but let’s get back to books now. The difference with books is that if the one volume contains the whole story then it is up to the reader to spend as little or as much time with it as they want. Plus, the reader doesn’t have to feel like they are being manipulated into spending more money to read the conclusion to the story, which may not even happen yet for several volumes.
Here is where I change my mind, though.
One of my favorite authors is Louis L’Amour, and I have been reading his books since I was eleven years old; of course, I was borrowing my brother’s copies of the books. Yeah, I know it’s weird because he doesn’t even do romance, but here is the thing. He created this family called the Sacketts and he instilled in them characteristics that are totally awesome, like honor and such; but the main thing that I like is the family loyalty; “If you attack one Sackett, you attack us all” kind of thing.
So, he wrote 19 books/stories in the Sacketts series, of which I have read 16, I think. Even though they are all part of a series, they are complete stories unto themselves, and that is what I like. So what if my brother had to buy another book to find out what happened to Jubal Sackett, but the story being told to begin with was basically finished in the initial volume.
The exception to this, are the two books, Sacketts Land and To the Far Blue Mountains, which tell the story of Barnabas Sackett. Sacketts Land is the only book by Louis L’Amour that ends on a cliffhanger, that I know of. I am more than willing to forgive the author, or in this case the publisher, for the necessity of having to buy another book to read the rest of his story, because Barnabas Sackett is probably my most loved fictional hero of all time. I mean I really wish that I had his blood (DNA) flowing through my veins, and therefore through my sons veins.
And that is the thing, though. A great author with a great story can pull it off; especially, if each volume is quite lengthy. I mean how bad would it have been if Tolkien would have published the Lord of the Rings in one giant volume. At the time, it would have been a ridiculous choice for the publisher to make. Now with ebooks, I am glad to be offered the option to buy all three books in one volume, however.
I guess what I object to is the publication of very short serial books, that never end and actually ending the story is not even the goal of the author. Although, I know there is a market for these, because they are selling like hotcakes. Even then, I would not object * if they were published as graphic novels, and the story was awesome. Because I understand that it takes longer to tell a story in comic book form and you have to finance the hefty graphic artist fee somehow.
*Note: I don’t really object, per se. I just don’t want to be one of those writers, and I don’t want to buy those books, either. For those who like to read them and those who like to write them, I say go for it.
So, in conclusion I guess I don’t hate serials as much as I thought I did, and I will even buy sequel books, if I like the story enough to do so. However, I will still think twice, probably more than twice, before I hop on the bandwagon and start producing serials of my own.