Writing Series and When to Stop by Jet Mykles
Posted by H.A Caine
Writing Series and When To Stop
I grew up reading books in series. Loved them. My very favorites — the ones that have stuck in my psyche through the years — were Mercedes Lackey’s Valdemar series and Melanie Rawn’s Dragon Prince series. I also liked the classics, Tolkien and Frank Herbert. Lately, my favorites include Laurel K Hamilton’s Anita Blake series, Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels books and Patricia Briggs’s Mercy Thompson. There was a time in my life that I wouldn’t bother to pick up a new book if it wasn’t at least part of a trilogy. Didn’t seem worth it to me.
As you can probably tell by my favorites, I was, and still am, a fan of fantasy and I don’t think there’s another genre that lends itself so well to multiple books. Such epic worlds! Even the ones that are close to reality. There’s no way you could just visit for one book and never go there again. In the first book you dip your toe in. You get to see the world through one character’s viewpoint — okay, sometimes there are other characters too but work with me here — and there’s your introduction. The first book tells that first story but there’s almost always strands of other stories, characters with things to show, waiting for the author to pick them up and write about them.
Now that I am an author, I can say for certain that it’s hard not to pick up those strands and go with them. When I wrote Dark Elves I: Taken, I already knew what book two was going to be but I wasn’t sure what came after that. Much to my pleasant surprise, while I was writing Mastered, the two of the three main characters for book three presented themselves and even started to tell their story. Book three itself was a little more complicated and I wasn’t quite sure where it was going, but something big happened that I had to resolve, which meant books four, five and six. I’ll admit that five and six were a struggle but in the end, I’m happy with the resulting six books.
Six. That’s it. A little sad, but it’s true. I often think of that wonderful world I created, but I honestly have not had the urge to write another. Not a serious, I-must-do-this-or-else urge. Because just as there are strands in every story that can lead to another, sometimes you just have to stop. I took my characters through an epic, turned their world upside down, ripped them apart and put them back together and that was their arc. No one else’s story seems as… important? I hate to say it that way, but it’s true. Maybe one day I’ll think up another society in that same world and tell its story, but no bright ideas yet.
I feel the same about my Heaven Sent series. There were originally four boys in the band, so I set out to tell four stories. I’m very proud of what I accomplished for Johnnie, Luc, Brent and Darien as well as the loves of their lives Tyler, Reese, Hell and Chris. I tried to be faithful to the differences in each character as well as to the yaoi genre that inspired the series. I’m tickled that Loose Id had the holiday short stories going that year which allowed me to write a snippet story for each of the four main books. Once I was done with the four, I was delighted that an idea for the fifth book, Genesis, occurred to me, a way to continue their story without breaking them up (which I’m not sure I would have survived). In the end, although I knew a lot of staunch m/m fans wouldn’t read it, I felt the need to finish with a happy ending for Gretchen, who’d seen the boys through their troubles and deserved some love for herself. That gave me a nice set of ten stories. But now? Just like with the Dark Elves series, I feel I’m done with Heaven Sent. I’ve lived their love stories with them and I wish for them to have their happy ever after.
So, why did I start the Indigo Knights series? I guess I wasn’t quite ready to leave that world. I saw in Rabin a chance to linger and a chance to peek in on the Heaven Sent boys. I shouldn’t be surprised to find that this series isn’t coming as easily to me. It’s not nearly as organic as its predecessor. Also, it’s harder to avoid repeating the same story that I’ve told before. So it’s taking me a lot longer to write the Knights. I’ve got two books down, working on the third and there will be one more. Then, I’m pretty sure I’m done. Much as I love my boys — and I do, truly, love them all — I’d be doing them a disservice to try and continue.
I’d rather wrap up a series on a good note then try to continue and tarnish the good vibe. As much as I’d like a good story — or series — to continue, I’ve come to realize that part of the art of the telling is to know when to say “the end”.
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