Writing Tip: The Trap of Big Books and Long Series

Hello everyone!

I’m sorry it has been so long since my last writing tip.  Things have been crazy with the Go Indie Now! Bibliotherapy Box, but I was honestly surprised to receive so many emails asking me when I would post another one again.  It warms my heart to know that so many of you anticipate my posts, so I promise that I will try to make them more frequent.

Now that that gushiness is out of the way, today I would like to talk to you all about:

THE TRAP OF BIG BOOKS AND LONG SERIES’

Alright, here we go.

How many of you writers out there are striving to write the biggest possible book that you can, or the longest series that you can?  And why do you want to do this?  My suspicion is that perhaps you want to dwell in your story as long as possible and want to gain a large following, which is fine, but please consider what I’m about to say.

I have never finished a series that is longer than three novels (besides A Series of Unfortunate Events and Harry Potter), or a book that is longer than 400-500 pages.  Why is that?  BECAUSE OF FILLER.  I can’t tell you how many times I have had to stop reading a book or series because it simply gets boring.  When I feel that an author is bored of their story and is just trying to make it last, then I have to let it go.  My philosophy is that I would rather read a short book that leaves me changed in the end, than a large book or series that I feel like I have wasted my life on.  Less is more in this situation, as it is in most, and if you don’t have enough substance to your characters or your plot to fill out a book longer than 300 pages, or a series longer than one novel, then don’t push it.  You want your reader to be changed after they read your work, instead of feeling let down and empty by the time they finish whatever you have written.  One of the reasons that I think authors have chosen to strive for the longer series or long book is because of the Harry Potter series and how successful it was, and still is, but what you need to understand is that J.K. Rowling created an entire world with her story and characters, and she didn’t run out of substance.  She wrote each book as though it was the first book, and not a continuation, and her passion shone through the paper.  If you story is strong enough to last as long as hers did, then so be it.  But please follow these rules when considering whether this route is right for your story.

  • Is your conflict solvable within one novel?

If it is, then let it be solved in one novel.  Don’t drag it.  No one wants to know what happens after “happily ever after”, so just let it lie.

  • Do your characters still need time to grow?

Then please, write on.  Whether that means in a longer novel, or in a series, then please let it happen.  But don’t force them into someone that they are not.  If they have no story left in them, then your readers will sense it.  Leave your readers amazed, and please don’t turn into the author who wrote an amazing first novel, but fizzled out the rest.  Pack that punch.

  • Are you trying to aspire to be a certain writer, and are basing your plan off of their success?

THEN PLEASE STOP.  You can’t force yourself to follow another author’s footsteps, just liek no one else can follow you.  Make your own path.  If you are meant to write a longer series, then let it happen and don’t force it.  And please make sure that you story doesn’t echo something that has already been done.

  • Is each lose end tied up?

No?  Then please make sure to write on and give each of your characters justice.  Yes?  Then don’t make more conflict for the sake of conflict!  Your readers will know if a story or conflict has been dragged out, and more often then not, they will lose care for your story and move onto something else.

  • Do you foresee a new story that can evolve from the world you have created?

Then by all means, write another novel with another story set in the world that you created.  But please make sure that it isn’t less than your first novel.  Aim to make your sequels better than the first, and more often than not they will be.  But make sure that you plot and characters have fully evolved, and don’t mess up the details you may have stated in a previous book.  Readers will pick you apart for that, believe me.

These are some great rules to live by when considering how long you want your story to last, and I hope that you do choose to consider them.  I have seen many great writers go under due to inadequate series or plot development, and I don’t wish that on anybody.  Remember, always aim to be better than yourself, and you will be.

Much love,

Ashley

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