Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was released November 18 of this year. I haven’t seen it, nor do I really intend to, but it did get me thinking about sequels and other derivative work.
Everyone enjoys a series. There’s Star Wars, The Lord of The Rings, The Matrix, Ender’s Game, and excessive amounts more. I’ll be honest, most of the time, I hate serial works. There are exceptions, of course, I love Star Wars but there are many times where sequels and other serial work takes on a quality of being cheap and derivative. The Matrix is a perfect example. The first movie was provocative; it was a thoroughly enjoyable movie. As the sequels mounted it seemed more like a poor fan-fiction (not to mock fan-fictions) of the original work.
I remember as a younger writer I imagined writing long convoluted works whose plots stretched onto forever into multi-work series. The problem is, most of that could have compressed into a single novel work and have been much better quality. There are many authors I’ve run into lately who are planning a fantastic multi-book work, and I sympathize with the work their putting in but it’s for naught. It is both more rational and better for the creativity to focus on a single book work that is inherently complete.
Books coming out recently are flat, lacking in character, insisting on plot schemes and other cheap tricks to further their narrative. Perhaps they are chasing profit and hoping a series of books sell better, but young/inexperienced writers planning out multi-book series is a bad exercise of writing.
As is typical though, I am being too critical. I understand the enjoyment in reading those long sprawling series where the character you thought died in “book 3” comes back to save the day in the last book. I get that. I enjoy reading that sparingly, too. The problem is most amateur/debut book series call on similar tools. My advice to writers more amateur than myself is simple:
Focus on a single book or short story.
Just do that. It’s harder than it sounds, especially the short stories. Don’t aspire to fame on your first, or second book. Write to improve your craft. Complete standalone works. Bleed as you write. It will illuminate parts of yourself you didn’t see before. Don’t forget the enjoyment but seek quality over profit. There will a be a grand place for writers like that in the long run. But it’s called a long run for a reason.
P.S: If you were expecting Media Inspiration Monday post, I’ve decided to cycle it with media related news to keep Mondays more lively .