Wednesday, September 6, 2006

Serial Killers:

You know what I like about foreign TV shows? They end.

Instead of hanging around like talkative drunks at the end of a party, foreign shows go out on a good note. They last a season or three, and they leave you wanting more.

American shows go to crap. They don't just hang out on your couch after the booze is all gone and the lights are turned out, they take up residence there, annoying the shit out of you until you're ready to call them a cab and charge it to your own card just to get them the hell out of your house. Think Buffy, think Alias, think The West Wing, think ER, for god's sake! (ER without George Clooney is just like the sorry losers who hang out after you've turned the music off, nursing a lite beer and never even offering to help clean up.)

"But Bettie," you say, "what the shit-all does this have to do with novels?" Stick with me chickadees, this is what they call, the build-up.

Ah-hem: Series books are a lot like those malingering TV shows. While they don't always suffer from reuse of the same old characters - or, worse yet, twee new characters - the way TV can, they do suffer from too much of the same thing.

Some authors love a family or set of characters so much they are loath to leave them. Some authors just like to make full use of all their fingers and toes. And some just plain don't know when to quit. But everyone should remember: the law of diminishing returns has to kick in some time.

"But Bettie," you say, "you're an aspiring writer. Haven't you got a series or two knocking around in your noggin?"

Maybe I do. Stop looking at me like that! How the hell do you think I started musing on this subject in the first place? Here's the question keeping me up (and away from my writing) tonight:

How does one write a series without it getting old?
So far, I've come up with a few ideas. Feel free to add your own.
  1. Write loosely connected stories set in the same place.
  2. Limit books in your series to 3 (Hey, it worked for this guy)
  3. Change your name to J.D. Robb
Ok. That's it, I'm tapped out. G'night, folks.