Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Saturday, June 07, 2008

End of a Series

by Sariah S. Wilson

I've found a new publishing pet peeve. The premature death of a book series.

I know in some cases, such as Robert Jordan, it can't be helped because the author actually did die. Brandon Sanderson is going to step up and finish Jordan's last book. Jordan left copious notes, some scenes, and there's the information he shared with family members. But even then, it won't be the same. Even if Sanderson can perfectly mimic Jordan's voice, as a writer I know how you can plan to do one thing and have it go totally out the window once you start writing. One of my favorite TV writers, Winnie Holzman (My So-Called Life), talked about "what would have happened" had the series been continued. She listed some things she had tentatively planned on doing, but then commented that it was no guarantee that that's what she would have actually done, that part of writing is the discovery on how the story moves and twists on its own.

So while I'm sure Sanderson will do an amazing job, the book will not be the same if Jordan had been able to write it himself.

Then I had a series I was invested in. I've posted about it before. It's "Enchanted, Inc." by Shanna Swendson. It had an awesome premise - woman in New York discovers that magic is real, and she's very valuable because she's immune to all magic - doesn't have a single spark of in it her. That means in business deals no one can get away with shady contracts or corporate espionage (she can see through invisibility spells) and it means no bad guys can do any magic on her at all. She has a great love interest - the head of R&D of new spell development (wizards in this world use magic the way we load software onto a computer). There's an overall plotting madman who stirs up all kinds of trouble in each book. In Book 4 they've just caught the bad guy, the hero and heroine have admitted that they really like each other, and we discover that there's an even worse bad guy out there.

And that's it. The publisher has dropped the series and now I won't ever get to find out what's happened.

But I can't decide what's worse. A series that is cut too short, or one that is added on to. Like "Scarlett" by Alexandra Ripley. "Gone With the Wind" probably didn't need a sequel. And I'm of the opinion that Rhett would never have returned to Scarlett, regardless of the circumstances.

Or I've read quite a few continuations of "Pride and Prejudice." No matter how they try to mimic the wit and wording, there's only one Jane Austen. I've never been able to get into these books either. I want to. I love P&P. I love the idea of there being more story or of reading about Kitty falling in love or someone seeing Mary's true worth. But for some reason it just isn't the same.

It's making me hesitant to get involved in any new series now. As an author, I know writing a series is a good thing because if you get enough people loving your writing, they'll be anxiously awaiting your next one. I didn't much like "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants," but darned if I didn't go out and buy Book 4 in hardback because I couldn't wait for three months to get it from my library and I wanted to know how it all ended (and yay for Lena & Kostos working it out!).

I'm the same way with television. I love the idea of being there at the beginning of a phenomenon (hello, Buffy the Vampire Slayer!), but I also hate getting involved in a show only to have it pulled out from underneath me (Aliens in America, Miss Guided and Moonlight, I hardly knew ye). Thank heavens for being able to rent whole seasons now. It's how I fell in love with Veronica Mars (despite the not-so-goodness of the third season, I am hoping to get graphic novels from it). I plan on watching Firefly and Friday Night Lights this way. It almost seems easier to watch it after the fact than fall in love with it and lose it without ever knowing how it will end.

It's the same way with books. I didn't get into Harry Potter until after Book 4 had come out. I'm worried about getting involved with a series that might get cancelled or be indefinitely postponed. I suppose I have book commitment issues.

So, to series or not to series? Have you ever had a favorite series end too early? Or a favorite book given a sequel that you wish hadn't ever happened? Do you write series? Or do you like writing single titles better than a series?


At 6/08/2008 12:58 AM, Blogger Rebecca Talley said...

Yes, yes, yes, Scarlett and Rhett totally got back together and despite everything, found a deeper and more profound love than she ever thought she had with that wimpy Ashley. (Never could figure out why she was so into Ashley when she had such a real man in Rhett).

At 6/09/2008 2:50 PM, Blogger Danyelle Ferguson said...

I remember being in high school when Scarlett came out. I was so totally annoyed that someone who wasn't the original author would even dare make a sequel! I LOVE Gone with the Wind - and think it's perfect just the way it is.

I feel the same way about the P&P sequels. If you aren't the original author and the author's been dead for years, then bug off. Leave it alone!

On the flip side, I really like spoofs - especially pride and prejudice ones. :)

At 6/09/2008 3:26 PM, Blogger Tristi Pinkston said...

I have a friend who refused to start "The Work and the Glory" until all the books were out so they could read them one after another and make sure they didn't stop the series too soon.

At 6/09/2008 6:55 PM, Blogger Anna Maria Junus said...

I love series.

There's been some television series that ended too soon. Joan of Arcadia comes to mind especially when they set it up so that things were going to get really tough for her.

As for books, there was a series by Pam Blackwell about the millenium that seemed to just stop. I guess her publisher dropped her.

As for me, I was planning a series to go with my book, but my publisher dropped me.

So it's not up to the creators, it's about the marketers.

At 6/09/2008 9:04 PM, Blogger ElCajonFan said...

I am a HUGE fan of MOONLIGHT. You probably know that an effort is ongoing to get the show picked up. Right now the effort is for SciFi to take it with DirecTV sponsoring. (That means they both pay for it) More info can be found at

At 6/09/2008 9:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Publishers don't just suddenly drop their authors. There's always a reason and always another side of the story.

At 6/10/2008 11:18 AM, Blogger Karen said...

I don't like to be left hanging. So I think a book should be able to be read on it's own, with out having to read another book before or after to get the hole story. But I have to admit I like books about the same characters, I like to see how they have changed and/or developed. Just don't leave me hanging! It is awful if something is unresolved and the series is never finished!
I love Harry Potter, but what if something had happened to JK Rowling and the series was never finished? That would have drivin millions of us crazy!

At 6/10/2008 11:22 AM, Blogger Karen said...

That would be "without", "whole" and "driven" Bad spelling. Sorry.

At 6/10/2008 11:39 AM, Blogger Annie said...

Book series are either awesome or frustrating.

My husband and I always say that the best way to guarantee a TV show will not be picked up again is the fact that we like to watch it. Right now I'm loving "Medium", so that will be next to go.

And I do the same thing; I don't watch shows because I think something will happen to them. But I blame it on "commitment issues". Seasons on DVD are a great thing. A friend of mine is on season 4 of "Alias" right now, and she never watched them when they were actually aired.

At 6/12/2008 11:28 PM, Blogger Heather B. Moore said...

My pet peeve is if an author waits 2 or 3 years to get the next book in a series out--it deflates the momentum. But then again, life happens, so what can you do. I waited until all the Work and the Glory were out before I started reading, but I ended up stopping at 4 anyway. So I decided I'd never write a series with more than 4 books (well, maybe 5 . . . if I'm planning my current WIP right).


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