This is the last in my series of blog posts about the problems with series. Don’t get me wrong. I love a good series–up to a point. But some series just keep going on . . . and on . . . and on. And at some point, they go on too long. This post is about endurance–the reader’s–and knowing when to stop.
I’m quite sure that the endurance level varies widely by reader. My own experience suggests that mine is somewhere between five and nine books in a series, depending on several factors. After that, I just don’t really care enough about the characters or the story to continue. This probably helps to explain my strong preference for either series that are already complete–and I can tell how many books are involved–or for series in which each book represents its own story, allowing me to stop at any point that I get tired of it.
HARRY POTTER certainly held my interest for all seven books. Though, even then, I confess that I enjoyed the earlier ones more, I think. WHEEL OF TIME lost me somewhere around book nine. It is certainly possible for a series that doesn’t give any intermediate resolutions to go on far too long for me. I can only think of one “series” where I read more than nine books–and that one was more a collection of series within the same world but with different collections of characters and problems. Even then, I reached a point where the stories just couldn’t hold my interest anymore.
I understand the temptation. You’ve spent hours, days, maybe months, building up this world. More, readers seem to like it. Why wouldn’t you want to keep writing stories about it? But, I think wisdom is to be found in knowing when to say enough and go build some other world.