Today I have a little bit of a bone to pick with the publishing community. I’ve run across this a couple of times now, and it feels entirely inexcusable, at least to my sensibilities.
I’m worried and concerned about the way series books are being handled these days.
First of all, I need to state for the record that I love series. I love that they give you the time to dig really deep into a group of characters, and I love how immersive they can become. I think TV (HBO, Netflix, Amazon) is really picking up on this with long-form storytelling, and it’s so much better than weekly TV.
But I worry because I’ve come across several series as of late that take advantage of the idea of a series to sell more books. Game of Thrones is a notable culprit, with book four becoming so large that Martin actually had to cut it in half, making it books four and five, and leaving avid readers scratching their heads as to where all their favorite characters had gone.
I recently read part of another series (which I’ll leave unnamed. It’s an indie author and I’m not out to spread bad vibes in the community). I was reading the second book of what will be a seven part series, and absolutely nothing happened. No major plotlines were resolved. There were no major character changes. There was action, and minor characters died, and there was the prerequisite cliff-hanger ending, but it all felt hollow and pointless.
I believe it is our responsibility as storytellers to tell stories. Not parts of stories, whole stories. A series can do this, often better than stand-alone books. But even with a cliff-hanger to pull readers to the next book, every entry in your series has to tell a whole story. If not, I think you’re cheating readers out of a complete experience.
Again, I think series can be some of the best literature around, but if you’re writing a series, at least respect the form. Stories in a series need to be able to stand on their own, otherwise you’re just pulling money out of trusting readers.