“Surprising what you can dig out of books if you read long enough, isn’t it?”
As the years have come and gone, I have had the pleasure to read a wide assortment of series. From fantasy to sci fi, action to philosophy, I have read and read.
I sometimes wonder if authors get a little carried away sometimes. They fall too deeply into their stories, and a series that should have been five books ends up as 13. We all hear about this in relation to tv series, and films of course. But the same case can be made for a variety of book series that simply lose themselves in the minutiae of the world and forget the reason the story came into being in the first place.
Probably the best example I can think of is a series that I have to say is in my top five favorite novels of all time, and that is the wheel of time series. Robert Jordan’s books are one of the greatest stories to ever be written down. That being said, around book 8 it really, really starts to drag. Characters that serve no purpose start getting dragged into the light, main characters are pushed aside or simply put through similar situations that do not cause any significant character changes or development. Robert became too invested in the world, and got stuck.
Now as I said, I still consider the series to be one of the best there is, so it isn’t like there was anything particularly bad about what he delved into in the later books, but at the end of the day it did detract from the focus of the main characters, who were already quite numerous and needed a lot of time to develop due to the complexity of the story line. So adding more detail to other people and aspects that added little value to the overall plot became annoying, and I found myself skimming through parts on my second to third readings of the series because they seemed like nothing but filler.
I find this to be a distinct issue in series that have more than 2 or 3 main characters. Once you start expanding past that point you get really bogged down, and there are very few authors who have the capacity to handle so many perspectives, much less for 15 novels, each over 500 pages long.
Being in the process of writing my own novel, which at this point only has two central characters, I am truly amazed at how Robert was able to handle so many, so I don’t want this to come across as thinking I can do better, I definitely know I am nowhere near that level. That being said, I really wish that other authors would take this into account, more is not always better. I love complexity, I love deep, fleshed out stories, but slogging through an extra book or two that really didn’t add much to a story is not the best use of creative talent.
I am not sure exactly where I wanted to go with this rant, except to say that as a book lover, I am sending all the good juju vibes I can to authors out there and I hope anyone reading this takes it as constructive criticism aimed at making a big undertaking like a series of books and making it a little easier by adding more simplicity.
A minimalist approach often works wonders for big projects because our brains can get a little windy in their old age.
Food for thought.