I don’t like stories and sagas that go on and on without a definite end. And yes, I know I say this as a Wheel of Time fan. While it’s true that that series went on for 14 books, it had a clear endpoint that was evident from the first few volumes. The fun was getting there.
It’s also important to note that The Wheel of Time has no side-stories or spinoffs. Maybe this is because Robert Jordan is dead. But it could also be due to his estate respecting his legacy. Because we all know that corporate IPs get milked dry, and then milked some more.
Because fans keep paying for the stuff.
There are other series that go on for 12 or 14 or 20 books or more, and that’s fine if people are into that, but those are not for me. It’s all personal preference, but I’ll explain why I don’t like this manner of writing:
- The stakes get smaller. Nothing seems to have as much of an impact because you know there are two dozen more parts to the story. What happens doesn’t hit as hard when you know things won’t be over for a long time. Or ever.
- Padding. I call this TV disease. To keep a story going for a long stretch of time, stuff has to keep happening. Your character can never acquire a goal. Relationships and happiness are fleeting, because without conflict, nothing interesting happens. There are no resolutions. Plot threads get attenuated to the point of ridiculousness. More and more new characters get introduced, which makes one wonder: why not just write a new series?
- Writing mill. Some of these authors are either one guy who has the name/ideas and outsources the actual writing to ghostwriters, or are composites of such teams. Or maybe factories is a better word. And I get that pretty much all fiction writing is formulaic. But there’s a difference between Lester Dent-style formulae and formulae absent style. The latter is what I tend to see a lot of. Your mileage may vary.
This also explains why I lost interest in comic books. Do I really want to read more about a 60-80 year-old character where I know nothing that happens will last I’d matter because it’ll be rebooted anyway? No.
I, personally, like beginnings, middles, and ends. You know, stories.
Anyway, I’m aware that some characters I do like are incredibly long-running. Conan stories come to mind. But here’s a distinction: those are each intended to be stand-alone tales. One does not have to start at Conan, story one in order to understand and enjoy Conan, story 17. Therein lay the genius.
Note that this post is not referring to The Neverending Story by Michael Ende. That is one of my favorite books and it does, in fact, have an ending.
My series have beginnings, middles, and ends. Check out part one of The Swordbringer before part two drops in a few weeks.