This Road… It Leads to Nowhere!

How do you feel about series with no projected end-date or endgame? 

If you may recall, I went through a brief period of addiction to The Vampire Diaries (the television show, not the books). And, yes, I know, shame on me. But call it a guilty pleasure.

Then, one day, when I was half looking for something fluffy to read and half looking to see where the television series was headed, I read the Wikipedia entry for The Vampire Diaries novels, and I discovered that author L. J. Smith originally wrote the series as a trilogy. She then added more, and a little more, and now the series will be continued by a ghostwriter, since Smith signed a “work for hire” contract, and the copyrights to the series belong to her publisher.

It hit me: this series is headed… nowhere.

It’s a soap opera. It will continue until it doesn’t.

That sort of ruined it for me. Everything that we’re working toward has no significance, and once we find this artifact or beat this enemy, we’ll just need to find another artifact or beat another enemy. There are no happy (or sad) endings, unless someone dies. It cheapens the current struggle, because, in the end, what’s it all worth?

I’ve often wondered how writers of novel-series manage to juggle their eventual goals for their characters when their contracts keep getting extended. If you project three books, with X midpoint goal happening in book three, what do you do when, after book two, you get an extension to seven books? We’ve all seen series completely derailed when this happens. *coughSwordofTruthcough*

Any ideas how this works? How would you manage it? How, as a reader, do you feel when you realize you’re being led by the nose to an undetermined end?

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4 thoughts on “This Road… It Leads to Nowhere!

  1. I couldn’t do it. I see it as a sign of a lazy writer. Stories should have an end. You can always expand a franchise, but that is not the same, and even then it can grow tiresome after awhile.

  2. I enjoy series that building up to a dramatic conclusion as much as anyone, but I don’t mind ones that don’t, as long as each book is episodic and self-contained–like Star Trek, Star Wars, or Warhammer novels. If it’s a setting I like, with characters that I like, engaging in conflicts that I like, I’m happy to read another one if it’s entertaining. It also makes it easier to walk away from a series if I get bored, and it feels like I’m not making the huge commitment that starting something like The Wheel of Time would feel like.

  3. Robert Jordon’s Wheel of Time comes to mind. I bought the original “trilogy” but quit after book fife.

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