Hooray. I’m in grumpy mode again today.
Being grumpy makes me really happy. In fact it makes me so happy that I have to be careful not to be too grumpy too often, because I might get so happy I’ll forget to be grumpy. And that would make me terribly unhappy.
Confused? How do you think I feel?
Anyway, back to the subject of being grumpy. What am I grumpy about today? Series.
Everybody knows that if you’re a writer, series are the way to go. Almost everyone who’s made any significant success has done it by writing series. I can think of heaps of examples: Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Game of Thrones, Discworld. All of them mega sellers and all of them series.
I get the logic as a reader. Hell, I’ve read a bunch of these myself. I suspect some of my fondest reading experiences come from series. How else can you get truly immersed in another world?
And from a marketing point of view, it makes complete sense. If you can get readers hooked on the first volume, they’re going to come back for the second and the third, and the fourth, and the fifth…and the twenty-seventh. Why sell just one book when you can sell a bunch? The logic is plain to see.
Except, I just can’t do it. Though I’ve tried to think up a good idea for a series, I don’t seem to be able to. It’s just something about how my brain works.
Partly, my brain is just too random and skittish to remain fixated on one idea or one world for too long. Because a lot of my ideas are pulled from far out of left-field they feel kind of slight. They might work well for a single story, but forcing them into subsequent volumes would just be pushing them too far. I feel like they’d lose their freshness and originality.
Also, I have a short attention span. By the time I’ve finished a book, I’m pretty much done with the world and the characters and whatever else, and am ready to look for something new. As a writer, I don’t like to repeat myself, and am always looking for new challenges.
There’s one final reason why I struggle with the idea of writing a series. It’s because my ideas are quite plastic and changeable. Just writing a single book, I change my mind all the time. That’s ok, as the changes get reflected through the drafting process. But how would that work for a series? Once I was onto book two, I’d want to go back and make multiple changes to book one. And then for book three, I’d want to re-edit both of the previous volumes. It would drive me absolutely nuts.
I guess one solution would be to treat the whole thing as a single work, and do multiple drafts at that level. But given I take years just to write a single book, that would mean over a decade to get the whole thing done. And as mentioned above, there’s no way I could work on one idea for so long.
I can’t say I haven’t given it a crack. I have three Neville Lansdowne stories, Doodling, Scribbling and Scrawling, which are kind of a set. But given each is pretty much a standalone story with little connection to the others, I can’t really say it’s a series.
So I’ll keep on writing my odd little stories the best I can. It’s the only way I can do it, because my mind just won’t work in multiples.
Posted by Jonathan Gould and tagged as