Every setback is an opportunity for an even greater comeback. I love these words. No idea who said it, but it rocks. Life has a way of being awesome, amazing, fantastic…and a ROYAL @$$whipping, too. Not only is this quote great to hold close to our chests when life has us on the spin-cycle, this is a FABULOUS mantra for writing memorable, epic stories.
Hubby and I just finished a marathon session of gorging ourselves on Battlestar Galactica and are now careening through Caprica because it is backstory for BSG. I refuse to watch any show that doesn’t have at least four seasons complete, namely because, if I like a new show? Apparently it spells its DEATH for the new show. Thus, I don’t like getting too attached. I wait, then inhale an entire season a day.
Don’t judge. I know you do it too O_o.
I feel that series, complex series, are actually the way of the future (and have felt this way since roughly 2004). There’s a fantastic book that explains why, called Everything That’s Bad for You is Good (and I strongly recommend it). In a nutshell, popular opinion seems to be that, as a society, we are getting DUMBER, spiraling toward an Idiocracy.
In the face of Honey Boo-Boo and The Bachelor, it’s tough to argue. But those shows are mindless brain junk food, and thus we’re comparing apples to oranges when we place them next to Breaking Bad or Walking Dead. Those other shows aren’t storytelling. Don’t tell The Real
Harpies Housewives of the OC.
From Big Screen to Small Screen
When I was a kid, all the best actors (acting) were on the big screen. To see an actor go from movies to television was a clear sign
they needed to stop doing drugs fire their agent their career was likely over. Television equaled death. Now? We see the opposite. I’ve all but given up on most movies. They bore me into a coma. Most are abysmally predictable or just showing off CGI skills instead of telling a great story. My opinion? Television is now where we are seeing the most successful stories and the most talent (been that way for a while).
Why is That?
Audiences, despite what people might want to believe, have become far more sophisticated. If we had a time-machine and could transport an avid TV fan of Gilligan’s Island to 2014 and sit him in front of Game of Thrones? His head would explode.
Anyone got a squeegee?
Modern audiences love a complex plot, numerous story lines, and obscure references. We want a large cast to fall in love with or hate.
We watch certain movies/shows over and over because there are jokes, innuendo or backstory we missed. Seinfeld is a great example. Every episode had its own plot and humor, but if one hadn’t watched the other shows there were a lot of jokes one simply would NOT get.
Shows like Seinfeld were revolutionary this way. It had never been done before. I Love Lucy was all contained to each episode. Every episode stood alone.
The greatest comedic writing out there is great primarily because of the obscure wink-wink-nod-nods to other iconic movies. For instance, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Scary Movie 5. But if you aren’t a horror fan, it won’t be nearly as funny. Same with Tropic Thunder. One has to have seen Platoon, Apocalypse Now, Tears of the Sun etc. in order to understand the movie and “get” the jokes.
The Simpsons, South Park and Pixar employ a similar tactic by threading pop culture references into the stories.
Finding Nemo has to be one of my all-time favorite movies. Now, The Spawn has loved this movie since he was two. There is a level of humor that renders a toddler a quivering puddle of giggles. But, at a higher level what adult hasn’t lost it in the Shark
AA Fishaholics meeting scenes? A toddler has no concept of a Twelve-Step Program, and yet as adults? WE GET the reference and so it launches the humor over the top.
These factors are why many of these movies (or series) are worth buying. We see something new every time we watch. We peel back a new layer, spot a new subplot, finally “get” that double entendre. We can rematch Battlestar Galactica with a fresh set of eyes and see new territory.
Modern audiences are growing increasingly sophisticated and they long for the mental challenge of keeping up. One can watch BSG and have to recall some detail from ten episodes earlier. We LOVE the mental challenge and this is why the big screen won’t last for the adult audience. The main factor working against movies is TIME.
Most people are pushing it to sit through a three hour movie. A screenwriter, director can only do so much plot or character development in three hours or less. Compare this to a TV series with a hundred hours. We have the time to get to know more characters, more backstory, more subplots and our brains crave the challenge.
What does Twitter and Game of Thrones have in common?
There are 140 characters and everyone is pissed off 😀 . *bada bump snare*
Ah the Setback
I began this post with a killer quote and I want to use it to show why series are becoming hot, hot, HOT. With a series there is, bluntly, more time and more opportunities to 1) generate love and affection for a wide cast of characters and then 2) torture them then 3) wait for the comeback. Some of the finest series out there will wind your nerves so tightly you feel like you need a drink and a Xanax to get to sleep.
WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN? :O
Is Starbuck alive? Dead? Is she real? A Cylon? Ok, I can sleep WHEN I’M DEAD *clicks for “Next Episode”*
The same urges that drive viewers to lose an entire weekend or night of sleep dying to find out what happens on a show (or video game *cough* Gears of War) is the same phenomena that is driving series and novellas to greater popularity.
For Those Who Want to Write Stand-Alones
If series aren’t your thing. Don’t fret, but remember that every setback is an opportunity for an even greater comeback. The greater the setback the better the comeback. Fiction is the opposite of functional sanity. Normal human beings seek to maintain peace and healthy relationships. Your job as
good great superlative writers is to maim, torture, crush and kill. Find that shiny thing. Get the protagonist sooooooooo close they almost…have….can…touch…..the edges……..
….and then SMASH IT. SMASH IT, KILL IT….BUUUUURRRRRNNNN IT!
Your readers will hate you, but it’s good for them. Do NOT protect your characters. Screw up their lives more than a meth-addicted multi-personality mother-in-law. Your characters NEED a crucible. No one wakes up and thinks, “Gee, maybe I have a pride problem. I should totally work on that.” NO! Instead of that promotion they know is in the bag, they get FIRED. Worse, they get blackballed. Worse, they have to apply for food stamps.
Worse, the person at the food stamp office is the very person they were horrifically RUDE to and now they need this person’s mercy. Do they get it? NO! ARE YOU HIGH? STOP BEING A SOFTIE. Do you want to be a WRITER? Then lose that soul and sense of decency (for a bit).
Take the food stamps away! Get them a job at McDonalds and they get fired from THAT TOO. IN THE RAIN!
Run over that character with an emotional panel van, then back over them, then run over them and repeat until they are a pile of GOO.
Gee, I wonder why people feel nervous around writers? 😀
Ah, but once that character has withstood the tests…you as Author God then can give them a new shiny and a better shiny. Show them they shiny they wanted in the beginning was Fool’s Gold and let them earn the real deal.
And your readers will then forgive you for the torture.
Series are simply becoming more popular because there is an increased demand for entertainment and people are spoiled with a lot of variety. We are also masochists. Fiction shows us our ugliness, but unlike life? There is a resolution. And, that, my friends, is why we all love a great story.
What are your thoughts? Are you too easy on your characters? Do you have a tough time taking away the shiny? What TV series do you love and why? Are you losing interest in the big screen, too? What are some of your favorite characters from a series and that you might never have known intimately if it were a movie (um, SPIKE)? Do you agree/disagree that publishing is now favoring the series? Are you a series-gorger, too? Do you kill new shows if you like them?
I love hearing from you!
To prove it and show my love, for the month of APRIL, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).
For a LONG-TERM plan for a fit, healthy platform, please check out my latest book Rise of the Machines–Human Authors in a Digital World.
Winner for March’s Contest–Aaron Davis. Please send your 5000 word Word document to kristen at wan a intl dot com or a 1250 word synopsis or 250 word query.
#1 by drshaywest on April 4, 2014 - 12:51 pm
OMG you are so right about most movies these days *yawn* No character development AT ALL! Do not even get me started on the new fangled Star Wars. Didn’t give a crap about any of the characters (except wanting to rip our JarJar’s tongue. In the old ones, Lucas had us falling in love with two friggin robots in the first five minutes of the movie! 😀 I agree that TV is where it’s at: Doctor Who, Sherlock (Benedict is simply dreamy and swoonalicious), BSG, Walking Dead, Big Bang Theory, Firefly, Buffy the Vampire Slayer…
I have watched Doctor Who about 8 times through and see something new every time I watch!
Crap, now I wanna go home and watch… ALL THE SERIES!
#2 by drshaywest on April 4, 2014 - 12:53 pm
Reblogged this on Dr. Shay West and commented:
Kristen Lamb explains why it’s good to put characters through hell (HELL I TELL YA!) and why readers and watchers will eat it UP!
#3 by Theo Fenraven on April 4, 2014 - 12:55 pm
“Modern audiences love a complex plot, numerous story lines, and obscure references. We want a large cast to fall in love with or hate.”
Not all readers feel this way. Someone mentioned in a review there were two many stories going on in my last book. My guess is this person does not enjoy Game of Thrones and loves an afternoon of Gilligan repeats. 😉
#4 by Author Kristen Lamb on April 4, 2014 - 1:02 pm
Delivery could be key. One book has to minimize characters and story lines. This is where series can help. Each book/novella/episode, reveals a new thread. Give us too much at ONCE and we short-circuit which is exactly what is handicapping movies. If they try to cram too much into one or even three movies, we can end up with Star Wars Prequel Syndrome. Or, this person might not have been your reading audience. We cannot please everyone 😉 .
#5 by Anne Stuessy on April 4, 2014 - 12:56 pm
Smart and hysterical…thanks for making yet another one of my days. I think the Syfy Channel has a direct link to my TV — if I watch a show (Eureka, BSG), it’s toast! One of my favorite series for threading clues and reference points across multiple shows is Dr. Who. Especially the current writer who is simply brilliant at culling bits and pieces from old episodes. Some day I’m going to sit down for a month and watch every one again.
#6 by Gry Ranfelt on April 4, 2014 - 1:06 pm
My problem with Dr. Who is how he just goes about pointing that stick at things and nothing really happens. It’s just not my cup of tea, lol 😛 But I can see the appeal.
I love shows like BSG because I CAN’T FOR THE LOVE OF ME FIND ANY PLOTHOLES!
#7 by bardotbarbiturate on April 4, 2014 - 5:32 pm
Nice to read a comment referring to Steven Moffat that isn’t making him out to be worse than Satan, Hitler and Jack the Ripper combined. If people don’t like his tenure fair enough but some of the things said are venomous and uncalled for. I am a HUGE fan of his, he fails on the execution at times but his imagination is astounding (at least to me). I want to sneak into his bedroom and steal it whilst he’s asleep. I loved season 6 even though a lot of people thought it was too complicated. I used to lie awake at night going over and over the episodes in my head, trying to figure out who it was who killed the Doctor. I did put together a plausible theory although it turned out to be wrong, but I was more than happy to be wrong! I was watching the 50th anniversary episode today and I’m still bowled over by the way he used the paintings. Okay I’m going to stop gushing now, I’m sounding like a complete Moffat fangirl.
#8 by Anne Stuessy' on April 4, 2014 - 6:51 pm
I totally agree on BSG, and yep, I’m a Moffat fangirl too, with no apologies!
#9 by bardotbarbiturate on April 8, 2014 - 5:31 am
It’s difficult to tell whether Moffat fans are a minority. I don’t know about others but I avoid online discussions when the haters set in. It’s pointless trying to have a reasonable debate with people who believe their view to be an absolute truth. I may be a Moffat fangirl but that doesn’t mean I think he can do no wrong. The anti Moffats though are vitriolic in their ‘criticism’. No matter what he does it’s wrong. If the characters are so terrible, if the episodes are that dire and the story arcs are plain awful why on earth are they watching it? I would have stopped watching any series that I felt was truly that bad. I don’t know, maybe riding the bashing bandwagon is the in thing to do. Personally I just change the channel if I don’t like something, I don’t start threads all over the internet ranting about how much I hate it.
#10 by Gry Ranfelt on April 4, 2014 - 1:04 pm
I agree about the movies. It’s becoming harder to find good movies, primarily, I think, because they’ve become a “quick fix”.
I also think the reason they’re so predictable is because they so rigidly follow plot structure. The midpoint is at the middle. The second plot point is at the 75% mark. All that.
But with a series the plots intertwine and we have midpoints with resolutions and new beginnings.
It’s wonderful. It’s messy. And the plot’s skeleton is HIDDEN. There’s still smoke and mirrors. Even writers can have a hard time sorting out the plot threads.
#11 by CKoepp on April 4, 2014 - 1:24 pm
I haven’t had much use for TVs or movies lately because I object to a lot of the content, but when I do catch them, I wait until they hit video or Netflix then get ’em all at once.
#12 by Author Kristen Lamb on April 4, 2014 - 2:06 pm
I have a similar issue. Loved BSG because there was very limited profanity and violence/sex-lite. Deadwood made me ill and I couldn’t get through more than a handful of episodes. Brilliant writing? Yes, but I couldn’t stomach the language and gore.
#13 by benjan29 on April 4, 2014 - 1:25 pm
I think one of the best examples of timely cultural references is the old Adam West “Batman” television show. While it presented itself as a children’s action show, adults could watch and get the references and in-jokes. I watched it as a kid, but came to appreciate it as an adult. Very nice article. I like your “smash ’em, bash ’em, then lick their wounds” description of story development. You are spot on. Good read. Thanks.
#14 by Anna Erishkigal on April 4, 2014 - 1:36 pm
Wow! What a great blog post! [*as my heroine walks off across the desert into the sunset and leaves the hero behind … mwah-hah-hah-hah!!!*]
#15 by Stacey Haggard Brewer on April 4, 2014 - 1:38 pm
How does this bode foe one-off novels, though? Is everyone going to need to start writing series in order to build/keep an audience?
#16 by Author Kristen Lamb on April 4, 2014 - 2:03 pm
No, I think there is just a new audience for these series. It’s a Renaissance. If you look at the early 20th century, short novellas (pulp fiction) was the rage. Short detective stories, sci-fi, fantasy. Then, the paper-based publishing model wanted longer works because they could charge more. Then in the 70s, EPIC fantasy was popular, but NY didn’t want to carry it eventually because there was lower profit (thick book takes up more paper and more shelf space) so they no longer wanted epic stories. Thus, short works and short serialized works, and EPIC stories almost vanished…but the taste for it didn’t. Make sense?
#17 by Stacey Haggard Brewer on April 4, 2014 - 4:20 pm
It does. I tend to think that not everything needs to be a series. I can think of a few novels just off the top of my head that I believe are perfect and whole as they are and would not benefit from — could, in fact, be hurt by — being forced into a series. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern comes to mind.
Now, might is stand to reason (and veering off my original question) that there would be a market for shorter e-books in series presented like episodes?
#18 by TraceyLynnTobin on April 4, 2014 - 1:40 pm
LOVED THIS POST.
For one thing, I’m ready to admit it, I’m a binge-watcher too. My husband and I regularly find shows we love and devour multiple seasons in the minimum amount of time possible. When we first discovered Supernatural there were already a few seasons out and we would come home from work, eat supper, and go up to bed at, like, six in the evening so that we could watch a new episode. And then we would watch another and another until it was 2 in the morning and we FINALLY conceded that we needed to sleep in order to get up at 7 for work again. o_0
For another thing, I recently decided to take the fantasy adventure that I’ve been working on for a decade and completely rework it into a series…so yeah, this post made me feel pretty good about my decision. XD
And finally…torture. Oh my god, the torture. I am a huge fan of shows like Game of Thrones, even though it makes me want to scream and rip out my hair at the same time. And in my own writing I’ve found myself to be a completely satanic overlord. My characters rarely ever have two minutes to themselves before it all goes to hell again. lol
AWESOME post. ^_^
#19 by Amy Keeley on April 4, 2014 - 1:41 pm
I don’t think formula is the problem with movies. I think a lot of movies are avoiding the soul-searching that goes hand-in-hand with good storytelling, thinking CGI will save them.
Try watching the original Flight of the Phoenix with Jimmy Stewart, then compare it to the reboot. The first one is all about emotional tension and so quiet sometimes you want to scream from the suspense. The second…not so much.
#20 by Jason Gallagher on April 4, 2014 - 1:53 pm
I had to drudge my way through Battlestar Galactica. It was just so unbearably depressing. Sure, there were good layers, which is why I stuck around to see the end, but the amount of torture the characters endured, and the amount of fighting really just grinded on me. I think people want to feel hope and redemption in a story too, and BSG had too little of those things. I agree with Anne about Doctor Who, because the Doctor is definitely tortured, and he’s always having to make impossible decisions, but the world/universe always gets saved. And with the help of his human companions, he always finds the best in humanity, even if he is worlds away. There are plenty of layers and continuity in the story where you want to watch from the beginning to “get” all the references, but many episodes can be contained also. I’d much rather emulate Doctor Who than Battlestar Galactica. I don’t necessarily disagree with your overall assessment, I just think some shows these days go too dark.
#21 by Author Kristen Lamb on April 4, 2014 - 2:01 pm
The point was series in general. BSG might be dark but after 5 hours of Dora the Explorer, I want things to DIE *left eye twitches*
#22 by Jennifer McGinnis on April 4, 2014 - 2:01 pm
Almost all my favorite books are series. The Harry Potter series. The Dark Tower series. The Chronicles of Narnia. The Hunger Games. The Outlander series. A Song of Ice and Fire. The Whell of Time series.
So yeah, I agree with you that series are totally the thing. So I am writing a novel that will be the first in a series. More of a Narnia-type series, with somewhat overlapping stories in the same world, but at different time and with different protags and plots and journeys.
And as for smacking them down again and again – Weeds was amazing for that! I kept thinking, come on, give her a break! But that would have been totally boring, right?
#23 by heidiwriter on April 4, 2014 - 2:03 pm
I love series novels. As a reader you become invested in the character(s) and it’s like having a group of friends you don’t want to leave. I have written a trilogy novel series (so far–plan two more in the series). They’re not blood-and-guts or “thriller” material, but I hope my readers like my character and her struggles enough to keep reading!
Heidi M. Thomas
#24 by chesapklady on April 4, 2014 - 2:10 pm
You’ve definitely nailed it. A novel I’ve been working on for several years just wasn’t “doing it” for me, and I couldn’t figure out what was wrong. Well I wasn’t making life as AWFUL as it needed to be, I wasn’t hammering on them, I wasn’t piling dead rats on top of the rattlesnakes. Thanks for this post. . . and on series? Yep, I’m hooked on the folks in Castle, and in NCIS. I haven’t been to a movie in years.
#25 by sharonhughson on April 4, 2014 - 2:13 pm
Chuck – loved it and it died after a few seasons. Yes, I can be the death of a TV series.
Each episode still has to have a total plot arc or I’m not in. I think this is why I got irked about reading A Dance with Dragons (4 in GOT). He moved a few characters forward but he didn’t really finalize or solve anything. Unless you count discovering the murderer on the last page. What?!?
Of course, I write YA and I have talked to those readers. Too big of a cast (especially with similar names) and they’re lost. Do they want it to build and be complex? Yes. Check out The Lunar Chronicles for proof of that.
So I agree and disagree with parts of this post. Sometimes I think authors throw too much at the protagonist and it makes the story unbelievable. If you want my disbelief suspended, bury the hatchet and let it return later to chop off someone’s hand. Keep me in with a similitude of reality and not just because you’re heaping more troubles on your characters.
I love a series if the characters are engaging and each book has it’s own complete plot arc. I’m not crazy about a series where new problems get dropped on so more books are required to button up the holes.
#26 by nicolegrabner on April 4, 2014 - 2:15 pm
Are you at all a fan of “The Good Wife?” Just recently they killed off a main character and you could hear the collective audience ROAR of disbelief when that happened. Great writing, and I feel that everyone was so upset because the story was one that the fans loved and connected to….the mark of a great story. Otherwise, they wouldn’t care, right? *smiles*
#27 by Ernesto San Giacomo on April 4, 2014 - 2:21 pm
BSG was one of the ultimate SciFi shows. Yes, I’ve got all of the DVD’s. Caprica was awesome for it’s one lonely little season. I think the writing and the story were too intelligent to make it on TV.
BTW Krisitn, besides the author Gods putting characters through hell and high water, what do you think about an MC going through something embarrassing once in a while?
#28 by Author Kristen Lamb on April 4, 2014 - 3:21 pm
Depends on the character. What is the critical node? If they are a little full of themselves, humiliation will play a part in making them change (Joanna Eberhart in the 2004 “Stepford Wives” being fired). Or, if they are underdogs and need to get fighting mad (think Omega House in “Monsters University”) to grow and become champions.
#29 by xuemertie on April 4, 2014 - 2:21 pm
Reblogged this on The Ravings of a Sick Mind and commented:
This is a fantastic article for series writers!
#30 by Stanislava on April 4, 2014 - 2:52 pm
Ooooh, I am currently inhaling Battlestar Galactica. It is amazing how much I forgot / didn’t notice form the first time I watched it.
I use to jump on a premiere TV show like a hungry shark on an big pile of chum. After numerous shows and characters I got attached to and couldn’t wait for what happens to them in next season, just to get stabbed in the heart with cancelation news, I got wiser. Now I wait, like you Kristen. If the show gets renewed I watch the entire season in just a few days 🙂
And as a writer and reader, I am very into series. The more books in the series, the better, although sometimes it happens that writer get lazy and starts coming up with weird plot twists and unrealistic scenarios. As a reader it just pisses me off, that the writer isn’t as invested in his own story line as his readers are.
As a writer, when writing a series, I try to come up with a story, characters, places etc. ahead of time. It’s all living, breathing world in my head, just waiting to burst onto pages. When I think of a character, dream what will happen to her/him next, what adventures I am sending them on. I know that when I am loosing sleep over imaginary people and their stories, most likely others will too 🙂
#31 by Elena Linville on April 4, 2014 - 3:03 pm
Hm… I was (and still am) in love with Buffy the vampire slayer (omg Spike) and Firefly (cut too short, murdered by Fox). Also, from the recent still ongoing series, my absolute favorite is Doctor Who, though I got a bit tired with his Eleventh incarnation).
#32 by bardotbarbiturate on April 4, 2014 - 6:08 pm
Love, love, love Joss Whedon’s work. I had a bit (okay massive) thing for Spike. Not all that bad boy stuff, it was after he fell in love with Buffy and became everything he had previously hated. Getting his soul back and saving the world is not bad for a character who was originally supposed to be killed off in season two. Character arcs are definitely Joss’s strong point. What he did with Wesley was incredible even though he did some pretty awful things to him to get him there. Fox destroyed everything Joss did after Buffy. Angel was cut short, Firefly was brutally axed and there was so much more that could have been done with Dollhouse. I think he’s had the last laugh with the success of The Avengers. Hopefully he’ll be treated a lot better by ABC with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
The Eleventh Doctor is my favourite (there’s a few things about him that are very much like my boyfriend) and I was heartbroken when he left. It was so conflicting as Peter Capaldi is amazing and I can’t wait to see his Doctor.
#33 by Elena Linville on April 7, 2014 - 12:00 pm
I think the Eleventh Doctor was a bit too childish for me. I loved Nine, but my favorite is Ten. He had just the right mix of light-hearted nerdiness and timeless sorrow that being the last Time Lord carries with it. Plus I just loved his companions.
#34 by bardotbarbiturate on April 8, 2014 - 5:05 am
I wish we had seen more of Nine, such a shame Christopher Eccleston didn’t want to stay. I liked Ten, oh how I cried when he left Rose on that beach, both times. He was a very human Doctor, you could have easily mistaken him for one of us albeit a very hyperactive one of us. I loved Eleven for a myriad of reasons. He was a far more eccentric, alien Doctor. The way he dressed, his mannerisms let alone when he opened his mouth. You couldn’t help but notice there was something very odd about him. He always seemed to me to be a much more flawed character. Where Ten had always been very haunted, Eleven’s way of dealing with the past was not dealing with it. He was one of those people who, when faced with the aftermath of traumatising events, overcompensates and becomes a caricature of themselves. It’s a coping mechanism, albeit not the wisest one, which is tragic to see. Much as I adore Eleven, if he were real I’m not sure that I would spend too much time around him. I’ve known people who overcompensate in that manner and I find it physically draining. It’s as if they need the energy from those around them to power their façade. For me he was a much more complex and flawed character. I’ve preferred his companions as well, or at least River and the Ponds. Unsure about Clara as yet. Now that the impossible girl issue has been put to bed we’ll hopefully get to see her properly. One of the biggest things for me was humour. Ten was funny, Eleven was funny at full volume. That being said, funny is in the humour of the beholder so he may not have seemed that funny to everyone. I shall miss him so very much :o(
#35 by Siv Ekman on April 4, 2014 - 3:11 pm
Yep, I’m sold on series. I rarely even bother with a stand-alone book these days, and I have started to get bored by single-movies too. Perhaps, as you pointed out, the characterization is the problem …
I guess that I shouldn’t be too worried that _every time_ I get a new shiny novel-idea and wow to myself that “this one will be only one book”, it keep expanding until I have a trilogy or quadrology on my hands. Again. After this, I’m suspecting it’s the characters at work here as well. For some reason they all claim a proper development arch, and one book just never seem to give enough space to tell their story.
#36 by Kathryn Roberts on April 4, 2014 - 3:14 pm
So do you think publishers would now be willing to take on a new author with a series right off the bat? Or must we still prove ourselves with a standalone first?
#37 by imsalvawhore on April 4, 2014 - 3:19 pm
I completely agree!
#38 by Parker J on April 4, 2014 - 3:24 pm
A few months back you said, ‘Put your characters through the ringer.’ I’ve followed that advice and I think I see some good feedback from it with my current work. Now, of course, you can’t please everyone and not everyone is going to love the twists and turns you put your characters through. Thanks for that advice. I love the example you gave to show us how to do that. Thanks as always for your advice.
However, and this is just a question, I used to read Sidney Sheldon a lot. But after a while, his work became so…fantastic I stopped reading him. He put his characters through a lot as well. Is he a good example of character pain we should follow? (I totally hope you know who I’m talking about.)
#39 by Carol Van Atta (@WolfyVamp77) on April 4, 2014 - 3:33 pm
I love your stuff! Game of Thrones Vs. Gilligan’s Island. Great comparison! I remember reading the Game of Thrones series thinking, “Oh no! My peeps keep dying.” Now I can’t wait to find out if any of the original characters bother surviving. I tend to fight with myself about killing off characters I love. Sure I’ll make them struggle, sweat, and sin a whole lot, but succumb to death …? Still a hard one for me. I know that’s not exactly your point here, but it struck a cord for me. I need to be willing to let my characters suffer more so their redemption is that much more spectacular. And sometimes, they need to just die. Thanks for the amazing articles. Your way with words is indeed refreshing and requires a response. (No, I’m not kissing a _ _, I mean it. Thank you!
#40 by Author Kristen Lamb on April 4, 2014 - 3:39 pm
#41 by Kelly Roberts on April 4, 2014 - 3:54 pm
I haven’t had to kill off any of my characters so far (other than the ones I already knew were going to get the ax), but I wouldn’t hesitate for a second. No one, especially not a made up person, is going to take my novel down. They’re not doing their job? They’re going down. Period.
I LOVE a good series and have been known to gorge on the likes of Netflix House of Cards and Orange Is The New Black.
It does feel that publishing, especially self/Indie-pub, is setting the stage for the series. It seems to have any chance at real success going the Indie route, you need to have multiple books available, and an “easy” way to do that is through series. It is a nice way to get invested in a specific character (or characters) over a long period of time. One of my favorite literature series is the Harry Hole one from Jon Nesbo.
As far as my writing goes, my novel isn’t set up to be a series, although I kind of wish it was. But to try and get it there now would feel forced. But there’s always my second book!
#42 by Holly on April 4, 2014 - 4:00 pm
LOL! Great post. I am a series junkie, big time. I have felt the deep pain that is Firefly (a series cut down in its infancy) and the overwhelming joy that is BSG and pretty much anything that Joss Whedon touches is gold. I am currently writing book two of a series of four (with a possible fifth book in the same setting). My characters have already gone through hell and I have so much more in store for them. I can’t wait to see the reactions of the readers to twists that are coming at the end of book four that I laid the groundwork for at the start of book one! None of the main characters are guaranteed to survive (oops… spoilers) And oh boy, do I fantasize about the movie deal! I am still a film fan too, I hold a season pass for my local multiplex and go at least twice a month. Don’t forget that the power of the series is also present in the cinema. My favourite films belong to massive franchises, chiefly the Marvel universe. I just went to see Captain America: The Winter Soldier the other night and it was EPIC. I have all of the Avengers, Iron Man and Thor movies on DVD/BluRay, plus X-Men and Wolverine. Your average RomCom is not generally my thing, but give me epic storylines and well executed adaptations and I’ll open my wallet again and again.
#43 by Julie Glover on April 4, 2014 - 4:09 pm
I’ve said this very thing about TV vs. movies today. Growing up, my whole family were movie junkies. We were the first ones to see everything. Now I get better story from quality TV shows, and there’s no sticky popcorn in my seat (well, unless I sit down where my teenage boys have been). Personally, I love series — both TV and novels, and even movies — but some do go too long. It’s like they run out of believable ways to torture a character, and it can become ridiculous. But overall, a series gives far more chance for development and that sense of audience-to-character connection.
#44 by Stephanie Scott on April 4, 2014 - 4:43 pm
Netflix and Amazon Prime and Itunes, all of hat is competition to movie theatres now. I think a lot more people are watching TV seasons those ways, especially cable shows they can watch later when a few seasons are racked up. I’ve seen 2 or 3 movies in the theatre over the past 6 months and I used to go 3 or 4 times a month. Part of this is due to writing, but also, I have tons of TV shows ready that don’t require changing out of PJs 🙂
#45 by Stephanie Scott on April 4, 2014 - 4:22 pm
I have trouble with being too nice to my characters. I usually amend that in revisions, because my first drafts tend to stop before the ending because I’ve resolved the conflict too soon. Each time I learn more and get better at using what I’ve already set up to establish higher stakes and more chances for betrayal or bad decisions. When you’re reading a book where this is done well, you don’t even notice, which I think is why it’s so hard to write. But, like a recent book I picked up, when the stakes and conflict are forced, and bad things sort of randomly happen to a character, it reads like melodrama and I’m not buying it.
I often thing of that Gilligan’s Island TV generation shift; I think of 80s sitcoms and I think that’s why stuff like Big Bang and Two Broke Girls don’t work for me now; the obvious soundstage and studio audience laughing, it feels like a bygone era.
#46 by Shea Ford on April 4, 2014 - 4:22 pm
I liked your reference to the Fishaholics meeting in Finding Nemo. I just ran across a quote today by Walt Disney, “You’re dead if you aim only for kids. Adults are only kids grown up, anyway.” 🙂 I think that was the real magic of Disney.
I’m more of a Grimm girl, though I’m totally enamored with Downton Abbey. One of these days, I’ll get into The Walking Dead, but we don’t have Netflix at the moment.
#47 by symplysilent on April 4, 2014 - 4:26 pm
Kristen, since you recommended Saving The Cat I know you won’t be insulted by me asking this question. Are you suggesting looking at the life-span of the series as a Four Part Story, and each episode as a Bickman style Scene? If you are, that is breath taking. Talk about a business plan and taking a risk with “Part One.”
I suppose it would be an entirely separate question to discuss how many seasons would be needed (Somewhere I thought I heard 3.5 was the break-even point for a series to go into syndication, but that may have changed with NetFlicks and DVD).
#48 by Author Kristen Lamb on April 4, 2014 - 5:07 pm
I recommend some basic plotting of a series ahead of time. And there are connected series (LOTR) and episodic series (CSI). In one, we are ratcheting closer to bringing down one Big Boss Troublemaker. The other is the same cast but different BIG PROBLEM every episode. These can be blended. TV series often begin contained and then evolve to be linked (NCIS or Rizzoli & Isles). I do think series should be plotted in chunks. And to keep from being tedious, the writer needs to add in fresh characters and conflicts. Also (and this is a GOOD problem) fans will always be sad. If you stop the series, they will wail and miss the characters, but if you continue, they will grouse because you are beating a dead horse. So, just write. The rest will sort out.
#49 by symplysilent on April 4, 2014 - 6:33 pm
Thank you for taking the time to answer. Your post arrived at a time when my 6,000 word short story just went on steroids and might actually turn into a novel.
My critters are bringing out so much of the story that, even if Hemingway’s ice berg never gets above the water, there is so much genuine story that I’m thinking I just written book three. Ha.
Thank you, Silent
#50 by TedtheThird (@TedtheThird) on April 4, 2014 - 4:29 pm
I wasn’t a big fan of BSG. By the end, it seemed like every other character on the show was a Cylon. Oh, you’re a Cylon, too? Hey we’re all Cylons! Why didn’t we know we were both Cylons last season?
#51 by Stephanie Scott on April 4, 2014 - 4:46 pm
Well, the end of the series does a fair amount of hand waving. I wasn’t upset by Lost’s ending since I lived through BSG’s not-quite-answered-mythology. But I still rec the show because the first few seasons are fantastic, and it’s one of the most well-produced sci-fi shows. If you ever read up on their effects team, it’s amazing to see how they accomplished movie-level space fights on a cable TV budget.
#52 by TedtheThird (@TedtheThird) on April 4, 2014 - 4:35 pm
More on topic, I think execution is key with being hard on characters. Its a key incredient, but like too much spice, it can be overdone.
My friend, Perry, did an excellent blog post on this : http://tavenmoore.com/2014/perry-bleakness-in-fiction/
#53 by literaryliason on April 4, 2014 - 4:45 pm
This is why I don’t care that they made three instead of one Hobbit movies. It is more fun if you have something to look forward to every year. I love suspense. It’s also why I chose to write a sequel and prequel for my book.
#54 by swiveltam on April 4, 2014 - 4:51 pm
I agree…mostly. But I will say if a novel series has more than four books. I’m not jumping in. I’m not getting caught in my obsessive need to know (which is how I stay up reading GoT until four in the morning AND then throw the book across the room).
As a Jr. High interim librarian, the kids are always trying to get me reading what they’re reading, and I try, and love a lot of it (Unwind, Divergent, The Giver, Artemis Fowl, Hunger Games, City of Umber, His Dark Materials, Lemony Snicket, etc), but I can’t commit myself to too long of a series. Like you said,we are busy adults and I need to fill my talk stock with a variety for myself AND the kiddos! So, no more LOOOOOONG series for this gal 😉
#55 by realnerdworms on April 4, 2014 - 5:08 pm
I love that you addressed this. It is one of my biggest struggles. I just want to give everything away! The shiny concept is very helpful. And now as a reader I realize all of my favorite authors do this!
#56 by Deborah Makarios on April 4, 2014 - 5:14 pm
As they used to say, get your character up a tree and throw stones at them. Or if you’re Tolkien, get them up a tree with ravening beasts underneath and then Set Fire To The Tree.
I’m usually pretty good at flinging rocks at my little darlings, I just worry that I’m not creating a suspenseful build-up of rocks – you know, getting them bigger and bigger and pointier and pointier as time goes on.
#57 by TymberDalton on April 4, 2014 - 5:44 pm
Totally agree with you! Movies are starting to really be nothing more than CGI and reboots of existing franchises.
I remember when Buffy the Vampire Slayer was on, same thing, I could start spotting the Easter eggs for other stuff down the line and just about bounce up and down in excitement knowing there would be a future payoff. Ditto The Walking Dead and even Dexter (until they farked it all to hell in the last season and a half). Hannibal is another one that has my interest, and The Backlist.
I remember the joy when I discovered Stephen King mentioned other books/series/locales in his books, and i had to go back and re-read EVERYTHING to find those Easter eggs and tie-ins. Loved it.
#58 by TymberDalton on April 4, 2014 - 5:45 pm
*The Blacklist, not “Backlist.” LOL
#59 by ugiridharaprasad on April 4, 2014 - 5:48 pm
Reblogged this on ugiridharaprasad.
#60 by anntogether.com on April 4, 2014 - 6:03 pm
Hi Kristen, I agree with all you’ve said. Several years ago, when the 3 hour version of King Kong hit the movie theatre I was dying to see it. My children (they love impractical timed illnesses) had come down with bad colds, so my wonderful husband told me to go on without him. I did. I’m a fan of creature/monster special effects and so I went running to the theatre before the big guy changed his mind. I sat in the movie house alone. Once the movie began, I forgot I was by myself. The movie was okay – the special effects were spectacular. After that experience, I thought what a great way to judge a movie – if you forget you’re alone. Sadly it seems movies are becoming giant screen reruns with very little by way of original scripts or ideas.
You make a choice with television programming. You can opt out and move on to the next. I think there’s something to be said for the flexibility of choice. It frees our minds and allows less pressured viewing. We don’t always feel robbed of our $10 if the television program didn’t meet our expectations. Television programming is growing along with its audience. The producers are savvy, the directors are contemporary and the actors are gritty and touchable (peppered with the plastic faces, bags of boobs and bad acting of reality shows – just to keep things honest).
#61 by Debbie Johansson on April 4, 2014 - 6:04 pm
I think movies these days tend to focus too much on special effects to cover up their lack of plot, or they’re busy doing remakes which tend to be ten times worse than the original. These days I prefer to watch old movies or television series. Currently, I’m really getting into Game of Thrones (both the show and the books). There are plenty of good television series out there world wide – I’m currently re-watching the entire three seasons of The Killing (Danish version). I agree with you Kristen that television is where the most successful stories are. I think the writing and the characters are much better.
#62 by Barbara Hinske on April 4, 2014 - 6:39 pm
YES!! As usual, you’ve nailed it! Movies are getting worse and worse in terms of character development. All that time spent on special effects eats into the time that we can spend getting to know the characters. Give me a TV series any time! I’m writing series fiction because that’s what I like to read. I’m giving my husband (a huge movie fan) a copy of this blog to read — proving that the best minds agree with me!
#63 by riverfairchild on April 4, 2014 - 7:10 pm
You kill new series too? I thought I was the only one who waited until a series was finished before buying all the DVDs and inhaling them. BSG! For the win! I watch it over and over.
*smashes the axe down and spreads goo all over the table*
#64 by Author Kristen Lamb on April 4, 2014 - 10:57 pm
#65 by Author Kristen Lamb on April 4, 2014 - 10:58 pm
Anyone remember “Titus”? BEST comedic writing. DEAD. I am still ticked.
#66 by bardotbarbiturate on April 4, 2014 - 7:23 pm
I have to confess I’ve contemplated whether I’d prefer my first book made into a film or a television series even though I’m only on the first draft. I’ve come to the same conclusion, that a film just wouldn’t be able to cover the story and the characters in enough depth. I’m going to be writing four prequels to the book I’m working on now, the worlds that feature in it deserve expanding upon but to do it in this story would completely detract from it.
I’ve loved all of Joss Whedon’s work, his character development is the best I’ve ever seen. I would have loved to see how Firefly and Dollhouse evolved had they been given the opportunity they deserved. Honourable mention has to go to Jane Espenson, she did amazing work with Joss and has done some great stuff since. Doctor Who is just about the most brilliant concept ever. A ship that can go anywhere in time and space with a central character who changes on a regular basis. There are no limits to where the series can go. I’m totally besotted with Steven Moffat’s imagination, I want it for myself. I really liked BSG. Unlike other sci-fi, there was no frequent alien encounters or visits to different planets. It made space feel vast and empty and emphasised how alone the twelve colonies were. Excellent ending as well, never saw it coming. Caprica had so much potential to explore the background of the colonies but was another series cruelly cut short. I don’t think I can add anything more to what’s already been said about Game of Thrones, it’s a work of art. Given the amount of content in each season so far it makes me shudder to think how much would have been cut out in a film version of each of the books. I haven’t started reading A Song of Fire and Ice as I don’t want to spoil the TV series but at the same time I feel like I’m missing out by not reading it. At least there’s only a few days until the new season starts and if Joffrey doesn’t get brutally killed off this year I’m going to write a letter of complaint to HBO!
#67 by Donna K. Weaver on April 4, 2014 - 7:53 pm
Funny, but I find myself feeling the opposite for TV series. (Of course, I don’t have cable so I’m sure that’s seriously limiting my access to quality TV shows). What I like about a good movie is that it has a start and a finish. It’s done. In recent years, the different series I’ve tried to get into have usually started to seriously screw up by the 2nd season and have lost me by the 3rd. There’s such a thing as character growth and then there’s freakin’ Dr. Jekyl/Mr. Hyde characters. I think a lot of the problem comes from having maybe a season or two of story arc and then having to make it up. In my experience, it’s been an epic fail, so I stay away.
#68 by Author Kristen Lamb on April 4, 2014 - 10:02 pm
I find I have to watch all at ONCE to enjoy a series. If I can’t just inhale an entire season at a time, it doesn’t hold my interest. Same with books. I wait until there are plenty of books in a series or it is complete before starting.
#69 by Kelly Byrne on April 4, 2014 - 8:41 pm
I’m trying to retrain my brain to think and write in series mode. It’s not how I normally do, but I realize it’s the wave of the now and future in the business of books.
I also try my best to make goo of my characters as much as possible, but it’s always good to be reminded to really mush ’em up.
The episode with Kara and Lee beating the shit out of each other in the ring is probably my all time fave. My boyfriend and I just did (for me a second) full run-through of BSG. EPIC!!
Years ago, when it was still fresh and new and playing one week at a time (GAH!) I named my new motorcycle (GSX-R 600, dead sexy sport bike) Thrace when I got it.
Then two weeks later I met Katee Sackhoff and Tricia Helfer at The Rock Store (a local biker hang out – which they both are) in the Malibu area. Sometimes living in LA definitely has its perks. I also met Mark Sheppard (Romo Lampkin, the lawyer) at the same place. Huge hangout for BSG actors apparently. They were all lovely.
I’ve felt very strongly for quite some time that movies are a huge waste of time and money. For all the reasons you mentioned, they’re just not clever or interesting anymore for the most part. The Lego Movie being the exception IMO this year.
Seriously, though, it was awesome meeting half the cast of Battlestar! Of course I did stalk Katee into the bathroom and tell her I named my bike after her character. She was kind enough to take a photo with me. I don’t think she suspected the stalking. 😉
#70 by April Wood on April 4, 2014 - 9:19 pm
Excellent advice for writers!
#71 by Daven Anderson on April 4, 2014 - 10:20 pm
Reblogged this on Vampire Syndrome Blog and commented:
I always love those little tidbits in a series that don’t “pay off” until the next book.
#72 by Kevin A. Ranson on April 4, 2014 - 10:35 pm
Great article! I always think in terms of a series – mostly because the person who wants to know what happens next more than anyone is MYSELF. I write for me, what I want to see, and I’m happy that to have found an audience that wants to go on that journey with me. Having proclaimed this, however, a story should never be forced and must go on only as long as it has to. When it’s the end, it should end – unless there’s a new story that simply must be told.
#73 by Glynis Smy on April 5, 2014 - 3:44 am
Interesting post. At the Festival of Romance in UK, 2013, a publisher hinted saga/series are coming back in fashion. News I welcomed as I have one in the pipeline.
#74 by Amos M. Carpenter on April 5, 2014 - 4:10 am
Another post you just have to love. You rock, Kristen. =o)
I confessed that I’m a sucker for series earlier this week in my A to Z Challenge post for “B” (http://amosmcarpenter.com/2014/04/02/book-one-a-to-z-b/). That goes for books as well as for TV series, but also for entire movie franchises. Undoubtedly the most successful of the latter is the Marvel Universe. Their ability to bring together storylines (in the Avengers) that can simultaneously stand on their own two feet (Hulk, Thor, Iron Man, Captain America, etc.), but have so many intricate links between them that hook you and drag you deeper into the imagined world (S.H.I.E.L.D.) … absolute genius.
#75 by Kathryn on April 5, 2014 - 7:35 am
I totally agree in principle. Still, I’m finding that trying to even get an agent to consider a series with continuing story lines (which is already completely written, so no fear that it will trickle off and die unconcluded) brings the automatic comeback about how a first volume must be complete in itself. Yet there is much about a deliberate series that doesn’t fit this mold. Still hunting.
#76 by gloriarepp on April 5, 2014 - 7:59 am
Love the concept, Kristen: make it hard, hard, harder on them. Inspirational! Thank you for many posts that contribute to my :”functional insanity.”
#77 by cpbialois on April 5, 2014 - 8:26 am
Reblogged this on The BiaLog.
#78 by enissa on April 5, 2014 - 8:45 am
Our own lives are one big series happening in moments, ever-changing, spiritually growing, and evolving. As a matter of fact, I have recently been enamored by the idea of writing a series of books and possibly, that’s where I get the “series” ideas from. From an entertainment perspective, we are all catching the series “bug” and I have been frequently asked which series on TV I like.Being that I don’t watch much t.v. I lie to feel like I’m fitting in the series culture..lol Back to the point, I believe it is because we all crave connection with others, and in movies compared to series, the connection and identification with the human spirit, it eventually dissipates. After reading this post, I will continue to rave about the “series” concept especially in my writing .Thank you and I love your writing style, glad I found you!
#79 by Author Kristen Lamb on April 6, 2014 - 1:13 pm
Great to meet you!
#80 by Laurie A Will on April 5, 2014 - 9:41 am
Thanks for the post. It gave me more encouragement for the series I’m writing. Personally, I am disappointed when I read a book I really like and find out it’s a standalone. My first book can stand alone, but it’s also written in way that’s also just the beginning and sets itself up for many books to come. As for torturing my characters, I found I just had to take the plunge. At first, I felt bad for making them suffer, especially the MC, but then I really got into and it didn’t bother me anymore. I delight in asking myself, ‘what else could go wrong?’
I definitely have been disappointed in movies in the last several years and long for movies with depth and entertainment. So we end up relying on series. And okay, you’ve convinced me. I am going to give Walking Dead a try
#81 by geralynwichers on April 5, 2014 - 9:52 am
Your logic is undeniable… Especially when i have ‘Allegiant’ and ‘City of Bones’ both on my night stand. 🙂
#82 by Shah Wharton on April 5, 2014 - 10:07 am
I’ve always loved series, but I realise from experience they’re not the easiest choice for writers. Especailly when all you’ve written beforehand are poems and short stories. Doh! Oh well, it’s taking me a while but I’m getting there and I hope it will be worth the effort! I prefer them to stand alone’s because if they’re good, I miss the characters and want more of them. I would rather read until I’VE had enough, rather than when the AUTHOR’S had enough of them. 🙂 Great post Kristen!
#83 by susanspence on April 5, 2014 - 12:02 pm
I am also finding myself getting caught up in certain tv shows with a continuing story, although sometimes they need to end after a couple of seasons. Dragging it on becomes boring and I lose interest.
I think a good novel is over 90,000 words. I really dislike books I can read in a day. That’s the difference between a movie and a book, but either way, I like both to be completed at the end.
As an author, I keep hearing that writing a series is the way to go, but I’m having a hard time thinking that way. Maybe I can turn my latest work into a series though…
#84 by Author Kristen Lamb on April 6, 2014 - 1:12 pm
There is no need to write to the market. Write stand alones if that is what you write well. BUT, there is always food for thought about contemplating a series. That’s the beauty of the new paradigm. Try stuff. See what you love or what works.
#85 by jamiebmusings on April 5, 2014 - 12:14 pm
Reblogged this on CultureShock and commented:
Love this post! I totally with her love for a good series. 🙂 There’s something about following characters over several years that is so appealing. I also am a bit guy shy about new shows since I’ve been burned SO many times. LOL! What is one of your favorites? What was the last series you loved that didn’t last?
#86 by Marinda Dennis on April 5, 2014 - 2:50 pm
I love reading your blog! I got a happy when I read about emotionally running over the character because that is what I do in all of my fiction. It’s good to know that I’m on the right track.
As for the series verses the big screen, I would have to agree. I just don’t have time for movies. I’m too busy. But a series, I can sit and soak in a little bit each time. Some of my favorites that line my movie shelves include Touched by an Angel, Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Spike, yum!!!), Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and Reba.
#87 by Pj Trisha Edwards on April 5, 2014 - 5:58 pm
House of Cards is my newest crack. The writing is brilliant and so is the cast, especially Kevin Spacey. It’s a Netflix Original with 2 seasons and a 3rd in the works. As for books, I LOVE series. If you’re into UF, I highly recommend the Kate Daniels series by husband/wife team Ilona Andrews. They are fantastic.
Personally, I’m writing a UF series based around Valkyries and Norse Mythology. I just started writing book one and am having a blast so far. 🙂
#88 by tracikenworth on April 5, 2014 - 6:58 pm
TV is definitely better!! Much to choose from: Walking Dead, Major Crimes, Melissa & Joey, Baby Daddy, Supernatural, Hart of Dixie, Star-Crossed. to name a few. I’m loving Netflix too as I can watch the shows I missed. Favorite all time shows–Buffy.
#89 by tammyjpalmer on April 5, 2014 - 11:29 pm
A series is a bigger commitment than a stand alone novel. With so many choices for entertainment these days; movies and television shows as well as books, writing a series is a bit risky, especially for a new writer. It’s not enough to keep a reader interested for 250 pages, you’ve got to hold them for a thousand or more, and it has to be so good they are willing to wait for you to finish the next installment. I think new writers should start with a great stand alone first—no easy task—and when they have a readership try a series. Just my two cents worth. Enjoyed the post, though I’m feeling a bit left out these days with so many people talking about TV series that I’ve never watched. I’d rather read.
#90 by saralitchfield on April 6, 2014 - 12:44 am
I do like coming to a series late and can start just devouring it… But it’s also a relief when I catch up and have to wait for the next installment, because I have no self-control and can’t wait unless I *have* to.
#91 by Angela Fattig on April 6, 2014 - 2:43 am
Reblogged this on THE WRITING CRAFT~Angela Fattig~Author and commented:
I so agree! HOT!
#92 by Anthony Lee Collins on April 6, 2014 - 9:09 am
As a purist (or possibly, a old fart 🙂 ), I do have to point out that when you binge-watch you do miss part of the experience of a serial — which is that you have to wait.
When I was watching Dark Shadows every day as a kid, or when I was going to the bookstore every month to get the new installment of The Green Mile, or when people eagerly waiting for the new installment of Charles Dickens’ latest novel (before my time 🙂 ), there was no way to jump ahead or hurry the process. Why were the damn shoelaces so important in The Green Mile? I had to wait a month to find out, a month during which I tried to figure it out pretty much every day (and failed miserably).
Oh, and I do agree with the previous commenter about how predictable movies are these days, When everybody is following the same map, everybody ends up in the same place.
#93 by Jason Gallagher on April 6, 2014 - 1:32 pm
I think you make a really good point. Binge watching really does take the anticipatory excitement from serials. The same way I miss letter writing. You send a letter and you wait for a reply with excitement, to the point where you have to make yourself forget about it to function, and it’s precisely at that moment you receive a reply, and the excitement and appreciation you have for the words run deeper.
#94 by Author Kristen Lamb on April 7, 2014 - 9:17 am
But the cool part is even if you don’t binge watch (the first round) and wait, we now have the ability to go back and watch the series all together and pick up things missed in the waiting. The reason I binge watch is EVERY time I love a show, they kill it. It’s freaky. I wait until there are a couple seasons out because I get tired of being attached and BOOM. Though we have enjoyed Vikings and that does seem to be the first show I haven’t managed to kill and we do look forward every week to seeing it.
#95 by itsmayurremember on April 6, 2014 - 9:33 am
Yes series is fun.
But after a while you want an end. It is dreadful to wait years for the next book. Take game of thrones for example.
I don’t even remember what all happened in the fifth book and sixth book? Who knows when it will be released.
If I could recommend some books like you mentioned, where characters are killed in an ugly fashion try Malazan Series.
Or even First Law Trilogy
#96 by bookishashlee on April 6, 2014 - 12:41 pm
Awesome advice, as usual! I’ve always been a series girl when it comes to reading, but I’ve balked at writing one. So daunting! Thanks for the list of great reasons, though – makes me want to reconsider 🙂
#97 by andreablythe on April 6, 2014 - 7:21 pm
I love movies and series both. Movies provide the small tasty bite, while series provide more in depth exploration.
At the moment I’ve had trouble keepin up with series (both books and TV), as much as I may love a series I have a hard time keeping up with it.
As a writer, I think I would have a hard time keeping that many storylines together and coherent. I have a hard enough time keeping one story together.
#98 by writingtutortips on April 6, 2014 - 11:38 pm
“Is Starbuck alive? Dead? Is she real? A Cylon? Ok, I can sleep WHEN I’M DEAD.” You totally nailed my experience watching BSG haha. I have to admit, I have a hard time being tough on my characters, but that’s what I love to see/read.
#99 by BTW07 on April 7, 2014 - 2:29 pm
Movies never get boring for me, but I see your point. I think that’s why sequels and prequels have become extremely popular with many movie franchises nowadays. They keep the series going. I think the Marvel films, mainly with the Avengers, has done this really well. The characters started by getting their own movie to lead to “The Avengers.” Afterward, most of them have sequels that will then lead up to the second Avengers movie, or keep their storyline going. Some are better than others, but I like how they all connect.
#100 by justinedaredavis on April 7, 2014 - 3:20 pm
Great post, Kristen. And I think it’s definitely been a progression, as it has been from movies to TV. (I think I read somewhere that Kiefer Sutherland went with 24, his fist venture into TV, because he thought that was now where all the good stuff was being done)
When I started out *mmphmm* years ago I just wrote books. Then I started getting letters from readers asking for stories about secondary characters. I did a few duos and trilogies before I inadvertently launched myself into a full on series. And then another. I’ll admit it’s a challenge when you’re 5-6 books in, keeping it all straight, but they’ve by far been the most popular and generate the most reader mail. “When are we getting Sam Sidekick’s story?” Some readers have asked for stories on tertiary characters, mere walk-ons that I had to go back and look up because I’d completely forgotten about them!
#101 by justinedaredavis on April 8, 2014 - 1:28 pm
A PS to my own comment (sheesh!)
There are some readers I’ve come across who don’t like series, in that if they don’t catch the first book or two or three, they then feel like they’re too far behind to catch up. I read one comment recently from a reader saying when she sees “Book #X of the ABC series” she immediately tunes out. I’d think that’s less of an issue now, in the digital age, but apparently the mindset is still out there. Anybody else feel that way?
#102 by Robin Janney on April 7, 2014 - 4:34 pm
Some of my favorite movies are in a series…I’m talking the Marvel Hero movies…the Hulk, Ironman, Avengers, Cpt. America…Loki steals the show from Thor though…When does he get his own set of movies??? Movies that are interconnected. I totally see what you’re saying. The Big Band Theory totally rocks and it’s “just” a half hour sitcom. I love the CSI’s…Trek, Babylon 5, Farscape, SG1…because you get so much more.
#103 by Doré Bak on April 8, 2014 - 5:51 pm
When I brought home Chinese TV series recycled on DVDs from the local public library, I used to think my Dad was off his rocker when he insisted on watching the entire series at one sitting. My parents did not want to spend money for cable or satellite channels, so I borrowed DVDs from the public library’s multilingual section. These shows were sometimes several years or even decades old by the time they got distribution in North America. There were big name (in China) movie stars on some of the better TV dramas. The series were really mini-series lasting usually one or two years. It’s the equivalent of Chris Pine or Jack Nicholson appearing on a TV mini-series during the peak of their careers. In the case of female actors, they would be the equivalent of Reese Witherspoon or Julianne Moore. Yet, I get the impression the marquee actors in China switch back and forth easily between acting for the movie theater and television, without any stigma attached to the practice. I suspect the Chinese were already well ahead of their counterparts in North America when it came to binge watching. I couldn’t appreciate the obsession with binge until I found myself hooked during season 2 of The Walking Dead when our cable provider offered a one-month trial free subscription. Fortunately, I couldn’t afford paid cable either, so my new addiction hadn’t got the better of me yet. But I couldn’t help myself and kept pestering my young niece if I could watch The Walking Dead on her TV. (Yes, I know about Netflix. At the moment the computer is fried.)
#104 by Raani York on April 9, 2014 - 5:54 am
To me series are some kind of entertainment I watch when I really get time and I like their “close up” when the 45 minutes are over. 🙂 Of course I love watching movies to, I just need more time – and considering my momentary state of tiredness I better don’t go to the movies since at home I get my sleep free of charge. 🙂
I love your article!
#105 by shad0wrav3n2014 on April 9, 2014 - 10:27 pm
Reblogging this, totally gold especially about torturing your main character do that all the time! I think i’ve almost killed her five times now? lol
#106 by Author Kristen Lamb on April 10, 2014 - 9:17 am
EXCELLENT *evil laugh*
#107 by shad0wrav3n2014 on April 9, 2014 - 10:28 pm
Reblogged this on remnantscc and commented:
A great bit of info on why a novel series is the wave of the future.
#108 by hfont2000 on April 15, 2014 - 7:34 am
I agree with you on the series, and I love every show and movie reference you included! With book series though, I hate hate hate cliffhangers! They kill me! I’m way too impatient.
That said, I released the first in a 4 book series and hope readers want the experience you wrote about. No neat packages, no quick resolutions, I prefer characters and stories that thread throughout the books and give you little surprises here and there.
“Hey, I forgot about so-and-so from book 1, that person turned out to be really important in book 3!”
#109 by Lynn Hagen on April 16, 2014 - 6:47 pm
My son got me hooked on NCIS. I’ve watched every episode for years and have seen how the characters have evolved. Yes, I’ve cried with them and laughed as well. I felt Gibb’s pain when it came to his loss and secretly cheered when he killed the man who murdered his wife and child. The team became a part of my household. Had it been a single movie, I wouldn’t have been interested. There wouldn’t have been any time to develop the characters I love so much.
#110 by bronte412 on April 23, 2014 - 1:12 pm
I’ve been killing shows for at least 15 years… Of course, most of those were on Fox, so maybe it wasn’t just me. 🙂 I started deciding I would only watch a new show if it was on CBS and a crime show. Love NCIS, lol.
I’m writing a series. It has a thousand parts to it. I’m currently working on 1-8, 994-1000, and several in between. Luckily, I am not deluded enough to think I could write a thousand novels, so the first three parts will probably be a novella, and I am guessing there will be a lot of short stories and maybe a few more novellas. I refuse to be disappointed in myself if I don’t hit the thousand mark, though. 🙂
#111 by bronte412 on April 23, 2014 - 1:17 pm
Reblogged this on Garden of the Olympians and commented:
Great article! Of course, I am biased towards series as I am currently writing one. 🙂 My character gets dealt a lot of pain, too…
#112 by Steve 46th on May 8, 2014 - 11:24 am
I wish I could remember the writer who posed this scenario: “If your main character was standing right next to you, how would he/she react to you?” I put much thought into that question, and ultimately decided I wanted every main character I created from that point, forward, to kick my ass for what I put them through, then offer me a hand back to my feet and buy me a drink for giving them the piotential for greatness. Notice, though, that I did not say the drink wasn’t laced with something that rhymes with ‘poison.’
#113 by shad0wrav3n2014 on May 14, 2014 - 4:37 pm
LMAO! Yeah if Raven knew what i put her through, I would be recovering in ICU if she caught up to me.