Thursday, July 21, 2016

When Do You Realize That It's Time to Quit?


I’m talking about writing about the same characters here, not setting aside the keyboard and giving up on the writing game completely.

I’ve finished two trilogies and just about wrapped up a third, plus I have a fantasy detective series of novellas that will be ready to add number eight in the series by the end of this year.

When is it time to stop writing about the same characters? You can become so involved with your favorite imaginary friends that you don’t want to let them go. How many times have you picked up a book by one of your beloved authors, discover it is number twelve or so in a series, and upon reading, find a rehash of previous plots?

Some writers can pull this off. One of my all-time favorites is the late Terry Pratchett. I never get tired of reading his work, but unfortunately, writers of his skill are few and far between.

When I completed “Dark Knights,” the third in the “Dark Lady” trilogy, I took a deep breath and said, “Enough of these people for now.” If I ever run short of ideas, I know there is a wealth of material still lying there to be mined. There are minor players still alive and kicking who could carry a series on their own. Let it be.

The same thing happened in the recently completed “Queen’s Pawn” trilogy (Third book, The Queen’s Game” arrives August 2nd.) Although the protagonists are still young and healthy, I’d rather go on to something else. At least for now.

I feel, under the normal course of events, three volumes is probably enough to carry a single story. You have to develop book one so that it is a complete tale, but still leaves you wanting more. In book two you have to avoid the dreadful problem of just marking time and filling space until you can get on with the finale. Book three rises its ugly head and cries out, please finish me off.

I take my toque off to writers who can carry a story on for several volumes without losing the reader’s interest. But, if you have built your world with care, and developed characters who grow a feel, you will never have a shortage of material. You can always return to that world, be it the familiar characters, their sidekicks, or their ancestors, and run with the story again.

How do you know when it’s time to stop telling the same story and move on?

The Dark Lady, Dark Days, Dark Knights (a trilogy)
The Queen’s Pawn, The Queen’s Man, The Queen’s Game due August 2016 (a trilogy)
The Housetrap Chronicles (Volumes 1 to 7)
Alex in Wanderland,
Knight’s Bridge
We’re Not in Kansas


KMTolan said...

I know it's time to stop when a fan comes up and directly tells me to "Leave her alone, she's been through enough." Actually happened when a reader thought I was going to pick up on an existing series.