Sequels, series and familiar characters
I just got the contract in and signed for the sequel to my book, Life Lessons. The next one, Breaking Cover, has been completed for a while, but now I can start the editing and publishing process. And a third adventure for Mac & Tony is in first-draft form. At the same time I was reading Treachery in Death by J.D. Robb, which is the 32nd book in that series. And it got me thinking about why I like series so much (and I do, although I can guarantee I’ll never write one with 32 books in it.) And why some people don’t.
I think it’s a question of whether you read a book for the characters before all else. Because if you value novelty of plot, or literary skill, or freshness of narrative, then those things are hard to maintain in a series. Even the very best begin to have a familiar feel to them after the first few books. But if you are looking first for characters you can identify with, then each addition to the series becomes a chance to visit with friends, and find out more about them.
My husband says it’s also a chance to be a little lazy because all the world-building and expectations are already set up for you (either as reader or writer). But then he loves real literature, like Thomas Pynchon and Faulkner, and things translated from the Spanish original. And I admire but cannot emulate that.
So I’m going to continue to write series, I’m sure. And to read and enjoy them. And to try to figure out what blend of the old and the new works best to drive a series forward.