If I had to choose between reading a long, complex, and intricately detailed story, and reading a complete story, I would prefer to read the complete story.
Some stories (in novels, television, film, etc.) are pushed to continue as long as they remain commercially viable, even if they are pushed past the point where they are still good stories. I needn’t mention any examples; I’m sure you can think of a few.
In that respect, one of the things I love about the Harry Potter series is that, after seven novels, eight movies, and a few spinoff pieces (like the Tales of Beedle the Bard), it is a complete story. It’s finished. There are no more Harry Potter novels forthcoming. And that’s fine. I know that JK Rowling has dropped hints that she might revisit the world, such as by writing prequels, but they will be different enough to be different stories. Similarly, one of the things I love about Terry Pratchett’s “Diskworld” novels is that, although they all take place in the same high fantasy world, and often have recurring characters, they are not necessarily in a series. Each novel is a self contained complete story, and one can dive into the world anywhere and enjoy a complete story.
So, here is what’s going to happen to my own fantasy drama series, “The Fellwater Tales.”
Three complete novels are already published, in print, Kindle, and Kobo editions. They are a series: each builds on the events of the previous novel (except the first, obviously). But each provides the reader with enough information about previous events so that one can dive into any of them and still understand and enjoy what’s going on.
The fourth installment of the series will be a collection of “spinoff” novellas and short stories set in the world of the Fellwater Tales but featuring different characters and events. Some of these stories will reveal events that took place in the “background”, or “offstage”, of the main series, or events in the lives of various minor characters. And some of the stories will simply explore more of the world. I’m taking my inspiration from Pratchett here, as well as from Ray Bradbury’s “The Martian Chronicles”: the stories of the fourth book will take place in the same world but otherwise they will be only tangentially related to each other. Anyone can enjoy them, whether they’ve read the rest of the series or not.
And by the way: the first of these “spinoff” stories is now available on its own: “Jillian Brighton and the Wonderful Cosmographic Telescope.” Everyone should go read it. 🙂
Then there will be a fifth installment, which will complete the series. As readers of Clan Fianna know, our heroes Eric, Miranda, and the clann, have a really big problem on their hands: and so do all the Secret People in Canada. The fifth novel in the series will tell the story of what they do about that problem.
Meanwhile, I’ll also be expanding the online “Guide” to The Fellwater Tales. You’ll see portraits of main characters, descriptions of the various houses and clans and their heraldic symbols, some ‘behind the scenes’ discussion, and maybe a game or two. There’s already some photography and artwork up there, and there’s more coming soon. And you can download the first few chapters of three of the books, for free.
And then, that will be it. I’ll move on to other projects. I really like the world I’ve created in these stories, and I really like these characters. I want all of you to like them too. But I won’t drag them out forever. For one thing, as an independant writer, I don’t have the economic incentive to keep writing more. But writing is my calling, and I would not feel right about my life if I was not writing. And although I like a complex and intricately detailed story, and apparently so do readers, I would rather write a complete story, then an absurdly extended long one.
Besides, I also have nonfiction projects on my drawing board, and I want to get on them as well.
And as always, I’m asking for all of you to read and help me promote the books. And I’m grateful for the support that so many of you have shown me so far. Cheers!