Thursday, May 13, 2004

How Long is too Long? 

In earlier backblog posts, a conversation went on about writing open-ended series as opposed to stand-alones. What does the reader want? How long can an author keep it up with the originality that began the series? A review of Anne Perry's The Shifting Tide in Monday's Boston Globe even asks, with this 14th installment of her William Monk series, "Could Anne Perry be tiring of crime?" January Magazine's 1998 interview with Perry brought up the fact that crime is a personal matter for her, a personal matter brought to the screen in Heavenly Creatures. If she is, in fact, tiring of crime, I don't think anyone could blame her.

I'm not generally a reader of series mysteries, which became clear in the backblogs when I questioned how someone could conceivably keep up good work. In answer, a litany of names were cited that I had to admit I hadn't read. I'm doing a series myself, but with a pre-defined end-point--5, or 6 at the most, books. Knowing where I'm going to end is important for me, because I then know the arc of the whole meta-story that connects all the books. (Also, my books cover a pre-defined historical period that simply has to end.)

Perhaps some series authors can chime in here, and tell us how they view their series. Is there an arc to the whole series? Or is it like a rope with a series of knots, each book its own arc?

Sorry if I'm being vague or tedious, but these are the kinds of questions writers fret over, and perhaps some interesting answers will arise.

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