Friday, June 19, 2009

A Time to Stop the Series


Readers love series fiction. Writer's love it even more— because when writing a series, an author doesn't have to create a new world or many new characters. Instead, the author can pick up a minor character from a previous tale and follow him or her for a bit. Or the author continues the story of a beloved hero or heroine, and some of the story is already written and is retold via the "backstory."

Recently, I purchased some eBooks, and the first download I read was Beloved Traveler, by Janet Miller. Previous titles in this series include Beloved Enemy (a wonderful read), Promises to Keep (also a good yarn, if not quite as suspenseful and exciting as Beloved Enemy), A Promise Made (a novella that serves merely as a bridge between the other tales) and now Beloved Traveler. This one just did not work for me. As I slogged through it, I realized that Ms. Miller needs to stop the series. When there is nothing novel about a novel, it is time to write about something else. Modern readers of romance undoubtedly dream of a society where people find the right mate on the first try and stay together until death, but even that dream can't support a lengthy series without some novelty for each story.

Some authors can seem to keep a series going indefinitely— Lois McMaster Bujold's stories about Miles Vorkosigan are an example of that. However, that is really an achievement. Even the Star Wars trilogy, with many characters and worlds to explore, lost some of its shine when it became six episodes long. David Weber's Honor Harrington yarns, which are among the best space operas I have read, have gotten longer and more boring with each book, and I gave up somewhere around book eleven.

Like many readers, I do enjoy a good series, so in that same set of ebooks, I have the sequel to Tigra, and a new entry in a long running series by Angela Verdenius, so I will be talking about those in an upcoming post.

Summer is a great time to read, so let me be about it.

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