I have a problem. You might think it insignificant, but I have a problem. That problem is that I love series, I absolutely adore them. If it’s televised or printed in a serialized fashion, giving me years upon years to fall in love with one character or another, I’m going to love it forever and beyond (yes, I am aware of the incongruity there). There’s just something about growing up with a character, learning all there is to know about him or her, finding their flaws and their hidden depths, that perhaps 300 pages of a stand alone book or the 120 minutes of a movie would never be able to cover. Imagine if Harry Potter had come in a single book. Or Percy Jackson’s adventures would’ve been limited to one volume and the list could go on. Or perhaps imagine a world where you had to learn everything there was to know about The Walking Dead in a single installment. It just wouldn’t work.
However, despite my undying and unwavering love for all things that come in series, forcing me to wait on the brink of insanity for months and months until I get my next fix, there’s just one big problem. With TV shows a cancellation or a change in writers would fix a problem, the same can’t be said about an author. You can’t just club J.K. Rowling over the head and take away her work, you can’t kick J.R. Ward to the curve and tell her to stop typing up about her favourite bunch of vampires, you can’t argue with Cassandra Clare until she relinquishes her pen and the list can go on and on.
What’s the problem you ask, oh, ever so innocently? To put it in simple terms: things go stale. While I doubt ethereal women walk around offering themselves as muses to those that share their imagination with us, I do believe there’s a certain drive that all writers have when they put pen to paper, bringing stories to life and sometimes, once they’ve hit volume 20 of a certain series it tends to dry out. It’s not the case for everyone, but lately I’ve been noticing that the more certain authors write, the more repetitive their ideas get.
What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. Sounds catchy, doesn’t it? Almost like a nice little tune. Well, hold your horses, I’m actually quoting the Holy Bible here or Suits. Whichever came first. The bottom line is that in truth, we can’t claim we had an original idea that no one in the entire history of humanity hasn’t had. But what happens when instead of taking something from someone else we end up recycling our own ideas? For plain ol’ me, with no impact on thousand or millions of people, not much. But when you’re a world famous author and you end up recreating your own characters in order to add the spice you’ve been told is missing from your latest novels, perhaps it’s time to put your series to rest and start working on something new.
To use a proper example: I love Black Dagger Brotherhood. No, really, I do. I know all the characters, I’ve read 6 out of the 11 books in less than a week, I finished the rest as they were published, I own them all…But see, just short of a week ago, the 11th book came out and I was as excited as a Duracell bunny after sipping on Red Bull. And yet, I ended up closing the book feeling incredibly bitter. While it wasn’t bad, all the new characters that were introduced, probably in an effort to keep things rolling for a few more years, were actually carbon copies of the former characters that had once upon a time captured the hearts of the readers.
It’s the same with books that add love triangles over love triangles, a distant cousin that is suddenly an alien from outer space or any plot that jumps the shark so high-up in the air that it puts Fonzie to shame. Sometimes people should learn to just…give up. I understand the need of feeding the milking cow, but once your own fans, who have stuck around, for decades sometimes, seem to waver in their loyalty because you’re trying hard to reinvent the wheel, take a step back and try to gain some perspective. (Supernatural I’m looking at you! – yes, I went on a TV show tangent here)
The bottom line? All good things come to an end, it might hurt and we might want to cling to the stories and the people we’ve come to love, to understand, sometimes better than we understand ourselves, but we have to let go. Revisit, rekindle our affection for them and their tales of happiness and pain, but ultimately give up on trying to pull more out of their stories than we can or should take. Money makes the world go round, that is truer than I want to believe, but there are times when you have to realise there’s only so much you can do to one character without ending up re-hashing old stories and opening up old wounds that you’ve already healed in volume 5 out of the twenty you wrote. *cough* Cassandra Clare *cough* Writing a book series, then a prequel and a sequel is overkill and we all know it. Even the cash cow.
Don’t get me wrong, there are people who could keep things fresh after a hundred novels with the very same characters from the start to the end, but those people are rare and far between and they have all my admiration, the rest…I suppose ultimately it’s up to each and every one of us to determine whether we enjoy this particular money making scheme or not, if you want to share your thoughts on the matter, we have a lovely comment section awaiting your input.