Fantasy Faction

Fantasy Faction => Fantasy Book & Author Discussion => Topic started by: Yora on September 03, 2015, 02:45:04 PM

Title: Do long series have to be that long?
Post by: Yora on September 03, 2015, 02:45:04 PM
And I used to think The Lord of the Rings is a really long book.

But today it isn't. Today you can get single books that are as long as the whole Lord of the Rings. And often they come in series of 5 or even 10 books.

Personally, I don't want to read them. At 300,000 words I no longer feel it's worth even giving a story a try. But there's now series with well over 3 million words and if Brandon Sanderson goes through with his plans for Stormlight Archive it probably will be well over 4 million. I could read 20 to 30 good novels with that many words instead. And if I don't like one of them I still have a lot of others that might be great.

I think a book should be as long as it takes to tell the story. But stories of several million words? Do they really have to be anywhere near that long to cover the plot? Or is it milking a lucrative brand name for all it is worth?
Title: Re: Do long series have to be that long?
Post by: Raptori on September 03, 2015, 02:54:24 PM
It depends on the series for me. Stormlight, while a bit wordy at times, is riveting all the way through. There's little that he could cut that I wouldn't think the book would be worse off without it. On the other hand, if you cut 2 million words out of Wheel of Time it would actually improve the series immensely.

It's definitely a case of the book should be as long as it takes to tell the story, but finding out which of them stick to that principle is the part that can cost you hours of reading rubbish.
Title: Re: Do long series have to be that long?
Post by: ScarletBea on September 03, 2015, 06:37:18 PM
I quite enjoy long books, but I think trilogies are my limit, 4 tops.

As you both said, it's "a book should be as long as it takes to tell the story", and some stories we just don't want them to end...
Title: Re: Do long series have to be that long?
Post by: Ryan Mueller on September 03, 2015, 07:05:09 PM
It really depends on the quality of the story and if it needs all those pages. I've read standalone books that I thought would never end. I've also read lengthy series that I didn't want to end. Length has nothing to do with it.
Title: Re: Do long series have to be that long?
Post by: ClintACK on September 03, 2015, 07:56:05 PM
The problem with the big-ugly-middle in WoT wasn't that the books were long it's that you'd read a two hundred page PoV which contained neither story arc nor character arc.  In short, nothing happened!



Title: Re: Do long series have to be that long?
Post by: magisensei on September 03, 2015, 08:33:09 PM
For me it really depends on the series and how fresh the story is for each of the books.  For example I am reading a sci-fi/mysteries series that already has 40 books in the series.  For fantasy series I found that WOT was really much too long for me - it really could have been ended earlier; while some series I would love for it too be longer - as you get to follow your favorite characters. 

At times the traditional trilogy just doesn't feel long enough for some series while for some other books a trilogy is just too long. 

As others have said it really depends on whether there is a story worth telling in each of the  novels.  Writing ten or hundred of thousands of words that go for 5,6,7 or more books at times is just a waste of paper (ie WOT) if there is not a story that is worth telling and moves the series along in some positive way. 

Personally I love a long series as long as it comes out on a regular basis.  My biggest pet peeve is waiting for years between books for long series (ie Game of Thrones). 

But how long is too long for a series? No idea, but if the story is getting stale after 3 books perhaps it is time to stop reading and try something new.
Title: Re: Do long series have to be that long?
Post by: Hedin on September 03, 2015, 08:38:38 PM
My answer is similar to Ryan's.  As long as the series is engaging and entertaining me I don't care if its one book, three, or fifteen.  If you can write a long series that keeps me interested go for it, I always want to spend more time with the characters and worlds that I enjoy.
Title: Re: Do long series have to be that long?
Post by: ClintACK on September 03, 2015, 08:43:58 PM
Compare WoT to Discworld -- I believe the two series are about the same total length.  (40ish books at 250ish pages each vs 14 books at 800ish pages each, or something thereabouts)

Discworld doesn't feel long at all -- because every book is fairly short and is a self-contained complete story rather than just a part of a much larger story.
Title: Re: Do long series have to be that long?
Post by: Ryan Mueller on September 03, 2015, 09:08:31 PM
Or look at The Dresden Files (or any number of urban fantasy series). They rarely go for the trilogy structure. Some of them go on quite long. But you never feel like the story's dragging because each story is mostly contained.

That's a big thing with series, even if you're writing a continuous story. Each book needs to be a satisfying story on its own. That's where a lot of the middle books in WOT failed. That, and being way too wordy.
Title: Re: Do long series have to be that long?
Post by: JMack on September 03, 2015, 09:12:28 PM
I just don't have time for door-stoppers over about 600 pages. I certainly don;t have time for 10 of them to get to the end of a series.

So I don't begrudge the things, but I'd be thinking long and hard about whether to start such a series.

Which means sometimes I might do it. I do still plan to tackle Malazan.
Someday.

But I've also had Dance with Dragons on the shelf since it came out, and can't bring myself to read it.
Title: Re: Do long series have to be that long?
Post by: ScarletBea on September 03, 2015, 09:18:30 PM
I was thinking some more about this and then went to check something:

This year I've read 2 Robin Hobb trilogies: Liveship Traders had a total of 2689 pages (average of 896 per book) and Tawny Man a total of 2021 pages (average of 674 per book). Did they feel long? Never. I could have read more and more of that story.

So it really depends on the writer, the story, the... everything!
Title: Re: Do long series have to be that long?
Post by: Hedin on September 03, 2015, 11:23:24 PM
I just don't have time for door-stoppers over about 600 pages. I certainly don;t have time for 10 of them to get to the end of a series.

How much do you read each month?   For me reading a 600 page book is the same as reading two 300 page books, the time investment is the same. 
Title: Re: Do long series have to be that long?
Post by: Arry on September 04, 2015, 12:11:05 AM
It really depends on the quality of the story and if it needs all those pages. I've read standalone books that I thought would never end. I've also read lengthy series that I didn't want to end. Length has nothing to do with it.

This. Quality is more important than quantity. I do like how Hobb has her books split into different series, so each one has its own story arc that will span 3 or 4 books. But it also leads people to think they can read them out of order, which is a bad idea (speaking from first hand experience, unfortunately).

That said, for a completed series, it can be daunting to start, but my theory is I just take it one book at a time. If the series starts to lose my interest, if I get impatient, then maybe it's not good enough to continue. But, if I love a book or series, and they continue to be well done, then I won't complain if there's more to read.
Title: Re: Do long series have to be that long?
Post by: JMack on September 04, 2015, 12:46:00 AM
I just don't have time for door-stoppers over about 600 pages. I certainly don;t have time for 10 of them to get to the end of a series.

How much do you read each month?   For me reading a 600 page book is the same as reading two 300 page books, the time investment is the same.

I have a few minutes a day to read and that's about it.
I'm using most of my free time writing... or on the Forum  :D
Title: Re: Do long series have to be that long?
Post by: cupiscent on September 04, 2015, 03:45:07 AM
See, for me, Stormlight Archive is too long. Or at least, the first book was - I haven't picked up the second one yet, and probably won't until the series is done. Reading such a weighty tome once is fine. Having to re-read later on to remember what was happening so I can read later books is straining the friendship. (A position I'm also in with GRRM at present.)

But back to my initial point: though The Way of Kings introduces an amazing world and some fascinating characters, and is accordingly rich in detail, I found myself considering towards the end of it that not much had really happened. There are really only three major characters, and they had each advanced only one major plot-point, maaaaaybe two, from where they started. My problem isn't so much that they took a thousand pages to do it, more that I didn't really feel I'd had a whole book of plot, just a book of things happening to fill experience-points on the way to the single major plot development.

I admit, I've become a tough audience on pace. Maybe it's because I've been reading a lot more YA fantasy recently, where that sort of malingering just isn't tolerated. And while sometimes YA fantasy moves too fast - which reduces the weight and resonance of major developments - I do feel that Big Fat Fantasy could stand to get a little kick. (I've just set aside another weighty tome because it didn't feel like anything in the first hundred pages was a Big Story Point. Or at least, if it was, then this wasn't a story I was interested in reading.)
Title: Re: Do long series have to be that long?
Post by: Elfy on September 04, 2015, 05:48:27 AM
In part I blame the rise of the word processor for this. So much easier to write reams and reams of paper when you're just typing it out on a screen and can easily backspace and delete things and shift them around painlessly.
Title: Re: Do long series have to be that long?
Post by: YordanZh on September 04, 2015, 07:17:45 AM
I love me some long series, as long as they are actually good and justifiably long. Unfortunately more and more series are written as long as possible just for the sake of better sales - the more books, the more sales. (and in the case of fantasy - the bigger the individual books, the better. We, fantasy fans, often view big fantasy books  as the norm for the genre)
I actually wrote a blog post a while back on long series and stand-alones:
http://yzfantasy.com/2900/long-fantasy-series/ (http://yzfantasy.com/2900/long-fantasy-series/)

A couple of days ago someone wrote me a personal message on another forum to give me an advice on how to be a successful writer, an advice that "you can't find anywhere on the internet, it's the secret of the industry!". And it obviously was that I should make my books into series that are as long as possible. It doesn't matter how or what you write, just write extra side stories, any extra past events and stuff and you'll be a "successful writer". Which if course is no "secret" at all and unfortunately - is true. And many authors fill their books with unnecessary crap, just to make them longer and split them into big series, when in reality the actual story in them is enough for a stand-alone or a nice, tight trilogy.
Title: Re: Do long series have to be that long?
Post by: Elfy on September 04, 2015, 07:27:55 AM
I love me some long series, as long as they are actually good and justifiably long. Unfortunately more and more series are written as long as possible just for the sake of better sales - the more books, the more sales. (and in the case of fantasy - the bigger the individual books, the better. We, fantasy fans, often view big fantasy books  as the norm for the genre)
I actually wrote a blog post a while back on long series and stand-alones:
http://yzfantasy.com/2900/long-fantasy-series/ (http://yzfantasy.com/2900/long-fantasy-series/)

A couple of days ago someone wrote me a personal message on another forum to give me an advice on how to be a successful writer, an advice that "you can't find anywhere on the internet, it's the secret of the industry!". And it obviously was that I should make my books into series that are as long as possible. It doesn't matter how or what you write, just write extra side stories, any extra past events and stuff and you'll be a "successful writer". Which if course is no "secret" at all and unfortunately - is true. And many authors fill their books with unnecessary crap, just to make them longer and split them into big series, when in reality the actual story in them is enough for a stand-alone or a nice, tight trilogy.
I don't know that it's so much write as long as you can, more to let publishers know that what you've written has 'series potential'. I kind of prefer shorter books in a series. That may be why I've gravitated towards UF in recent years. They still have interesting worlds and strong characters, and some of them go forever, but they break them up into easily digestible pieces. I've said that being an avid ASoIaF fan, but that series is in danger of going down the WoT path.
Title: Re: Do long series have to be that long?
Post by: YordanZh on September 04, 2015, 07:38:02 AM
I don't know that it's so much write as long as you can, more to let publishers know that what you've written has 'series potential'. I kind of prefer shorter books in a series. That may be why I've gravitated towards UF in recent years. They still have interesting worlds and strong characters, and some of them go forever, but they break them up into easily digestible pieces. I've said that being an avid ASoIaF fan, but that series is in danger of going down the WoT path.

He was giving me advice on precisely how to be a successful self-pubbed author, not on how to attract publishers. Make a series of 10-15 books, make the first 3-4 free with multiple links for the next ones and vioala! Sales. I had to force myself to politely continue the discussion and thank him every once in a while for the "new and interesting insight"..

But yeah, it's also done to attract publishers, to attract readers, who also often view series as potentially better, etc. Or in other words - 7-8 out of 10 times the long series are what they are for various marketing reasons and not because they need to be. Which is pity. But in the other 2-3/10 cases - sure, I love them.
Title: Re: Do long series have to be that long?
Post by: DDRRead on September 04, 2015, 08:56:47 AM
Again I'll chime in with the 'if it's good' chorus. If I like a world and it characters it's great to see more and there was something glorious about binge reading Malazan. I also enjoyed reading a big chunks of Katherine Kerr's Deverry series too.

Some writers like Lawrence, Hobb and Abecrombie have the best of both worlds by writing trilogies and stand alones in the same worlds with characters that overlap stories or make cameo appearances which is very cool.
Title: Re: Do long series have to be that long?
Post by: Yora on September 04, 2015, 10:08:52 AM
Having a long series isn't bad in any way. I probably read 20 Star Wars and Forgotten Realms books each. But those 40+ books also consisted of about 20 different stories. I just hate it if there's a book that starts with the assumption "If you want to know how it ends and the answer to the mystery, read another 2000 pages."

What I like is serials. Linked stories, not a single continous story that takes 20 years to write.
Title: Re: Do long series have to be that long?
Post by: DrNefario on September 04, 2015, 02:55:53 PM
I was going to mention the difference between a series and a serial (although I seem to have it the other way round to you: a serial is one story over many installments, a series is a complete story per installment but with shared characters/setting.) Series are very common in, for instance, detective fiction, but serials probably rule the roost in fantasy.

Honestly, I think the best stuff has a bit of both. A reasonably complete story in one volume, and some significant changes in the status quo for future episodes.

I think there can be something comforting about wallowing in a rich fantasy world for several huge volumes. I would say a long serial almost never needs to be that long, but you might want it to be longer.
Title: Re: Do long series have to be that long?
Post by: Yora on September 04, 2015, 03:26:47 PM
Yes, I had been thinking of movies. It's really more accurate to say that Wheel of Time is  serial and Conan a series.
Title: Re: Do long series have to be that long?
Post by: ClintACK on September 04, 2015, 05:58:09 PM
What I like is serials. Linked stories, not a single continous story that takes 20 years to write.

That's it exactly.
Title: Re: Do long series have to be that long?
Post by: m3mnoch on September 04, 2015, 06:22:52 PM
What I like is serials. Linked stories, not a single continous story that takes 20 years to write.

That's it exactly.

yes, please.