I’m sure most of us have all read a series, especially a YA series, that just never seems to end. I’m thinking about Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series, Sarah J. Maas’ Throne of Glass series… These series start innocently enough, with a good idea, and soon they gain a loyal following of readers. But once a series is officially considered a success, the prequels start streaming in, and the novellas, and the spin-off series, and the short stories. While fans can’t wait to read new content featuring their favourite characters, this has always left me feeling a little uneasy. Why can’t the authors let a series end? Is this just lazy writing? Are the authors monopolizing on the loyalty of their fans to make a buck? Is this just glorified fan fiction?
On the other hand, maybe it is a positive thing that a series can continue to churn our new content. Maybe that is the mark of a successful idea.
The author of the article could decide if a series that never ends is a positive attribute, a negative one, or something in between.
On one hand, a fictional universe could be so rich in worldbuilding detail that the reader may feel the need for expansion upon the source material even after its canon: they may seek closure for a particular character arc, or background on a breakout side character, or elaboration on the world's history or a background event... the author may choose to respond to this need, or not. Fanfiction provides a sandbox for the readers where they can write into existence the stories that they want, without intruding on fellow readers' expectations (or "headcanons", as they're called: assumptions about characters/events that may or may not be "canon", or verified in the official material.) On the other hand, if a author chooses to respond to this need, the way they handle the material will not be amenable to each and every reader and this can cause backlash. After the author concludes the primary story they were telling, the interpretation of the work is mostly left to the readers, whether the author likes it or not. When the author expands on the work, it must be a meaningful addition to the universe and it must also fit in with what we have previously seen of it. There is no point making additions if the new material is just the old themes rehashed with no new nuance introduced into the conversation. – Malavika2 years ago
Authors typically do this for a couple of reasons.
A. They originally intended for it to be a fairly long series to develop characters, introduce characters or just plot related things.
B. They see the money coming in.
C. They signed a contract that requires them to keep writing. I remember this being the case with an author being under contract to write a third book to their original duology. This was with an author who's books became a big thing in the film scene but unfortunately I can't remember the name. – AshleyEstrada2 years ago
One example of a franchise that has far outstayed its welcome when it was a perfectly decent five-book series was Percy Jackson. Loved those books as a kid. I even liked the next round of books in the series that followed his Roman counterparts before eventually bringing him back into the fold. However, I totally lost interest after yet another series set in the same universe began to follow Apollo. I read through the first book in that series and it's certainly everything you come to expect from those books but there is an awful sense of treading water with the same ideas and concepts that have seen different variations throughout the plot. Then there is the additional Egyptian/Norse elements that were added in (and somehow taking place within the same universe). There's more than enough mythic material to work from, obviously it's worked in Rick Riordan's favor, but a good idea to focus on is where the attention span of the reader starts to get lost along the way? Then again, Magic Tree House has 34 original books and 55 Merlin Mission books so who knows? – Runestrand2 years ago
I don't think extending a series is a good or bad thing. Authors are going to profit from their work as much as they want and as long as their readers allow them. – T. Palomino4 months ago
Interesting topic to explore. Especially when a book series is picked up as a movie or show and the author is pressured to put out more content – Anna Samson2 months ago
This is a very interesting topic to touch on. I think just going into a book store and seeing the amount of series packed into the YA section is enough to know that sometimes things get a little out of hand. I don’t think it’s ever really lazy writing though, I definitely think, at some point, so many of these authors are cashing in on their idea or trying to push it to a point where they can get a film or series greenlit. If the universe is big enough, then an author can definitely have multiple books, prequels and spin-offs that are done well. It just depends on the depth of the world and characters. Planning is everything a lot of the time. Cassandra Clare is definitely a great example as well! There are so many books within the Shadowhunters universe and find all of them to pretty much the same. – pipermarie20021 month ago
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