Continuing sagas of characters or single stories?

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Continuing sagas of characters or single stories?

Postby Charles Phipps » Sat Apr 01, 2006 1:37 am

Hey guys,

This forum certainly seems to be a bit bare. A little introduction is in order. My name is Charles Phipps and I'm author of "Machines Unbound" series (A Shared Universe project which seems to be my publishers attempts to get plenty of people writing in a multi-author world). Two books and two sourcebooks out.

Yeah, I'm a real Arthur Clarke....:-)

But my experience has taught me that there's as many questions AFTER one publishes one work as there is as when you are about to get it done. So I though this would be a wonderful forum to start examining them.

In this case, first question...

Do you favor continuing the stories of single characters and its better to follow the adventures of a hero ala Doc Savage or do you think its better to use a new hero for each work?

I welcome your input fellows.
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Postby SoulThief » Sat Apr 01, 2006 6:16 am

To some extent the answer depends upon the protagonist. Some protagonists have a charisma that makes the reader take a real interest in them. Other protagonists are either fairly ordinary or else there is something about them that says its their time to leave the stage. Having said that, I must admit that one thing I enjoy is seeing a main character from one novel make a cameo in another novel.

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Postby jdalton » Sat Apr 01, 2006 4:27 pm

Characters have a shelf-life, some longer than others. Someone should have pulled the plug on James Bond years ago. He is old and crusty and as lecherous as he was in the 70s. Most American comic books should have ended long ago as well. Really, they just recycle the same stories over and over again now- how can you not when Superman has stayed Superman for 70 years? On the other hand, Dr. Who manages to stay relatively interesting all these years later. I can't think of any examples from book books of characters recurring continuously for this long. This is probably for the best. The last thing I would want as a writer is for my characters to still be appearing in new books after I'm dead. (Grabs will and starts making notes...)
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book characters

Postby admin » Sun Apr 02, 2006 9:36 am

I generally avoid reading about even my favorite characters after the original author is no longer writing. As for book characters who lived as long as Doctor Who, Perry Mason comes to mind, as does Tarzan. And we still get a new novel about Sherlock Holmes or Dracula from time to time.
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Postby Frozen » Thu May 31, 2007 9:13 pm

I think every case is different.

Whilst good, charismatic and interesting characters can hold the public's attention forever and a day, some don't have that luxury. They may be badly written, they may be created specificially for one given story and no others. They may be killed off. The variables are endless.

From what I've learnt from the writers I know, thre are no hard and fast rules, and you must write what feels the best FOR YOU before you start worrying about the market wants, and that applies to genres, plots and characters.
If you're looking for serialised sci-fi, awesome illustrations and some sexy blue adventuresses, then try the Valentine Chronicles!
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Postby aaroi » Sat Jan 19, 2008 8:20 pm

All writers should wish that people will write stories about their characters after they (the writer) are dead. In fact, if you are doing the job right, you are inspiring your readers to imagine what your characters are doing long
after they have read your book - even inspiring them to write, whether it is about your character or their own!

And if you are inspired enough to write a series of books set in a particular world with particular characters, then all the more power to you. After all, the hardest thing about writing a story, is writing a story.

As for myself, there are some characters/ideas/settings that only compel one story, others that have inspired many, so much depends on what i have to work with and what i'm trying to accomplish.

Best of luck, regardless.
You can lead a horse to water,
but you can't saddle a duck
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riddle

Postby admin » Tue Jan 22, 2008 8:12 am

Why a duck?
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Postby aaroi » Sun Jan 27, 2008 12:13 pm

Ah, what's a meta-phor?

Well, it was either that, or my second favorite saying as a signature:

Blood is thicker than water, but its *no* oatmeal!
You can lead a horse to water,
but you can't saddle a duck
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Postby Chriskander » Fri Feb 08, 2008 10:31 pm

aaroi wrote:And if you are inspired enough to write a series of books set in a particular world with particular characters, then all the more power to you. After all, the hardest thing about writing a story, is writing a story.

As for myself, there are some characters/ideas/settings that only compel one story, others that have inspired many,


Having two novels of a series published, I have a particular interest in this topic. Quite apart from the present market dynamic that series are more successful that separate stories, I'd suggest if a writer has an otherworld scenario and characters strongly enough in mind to build an SF novel from them, then they are too substantial to quickly let go. Even if writer isn't immediately moved to follow up with a sequel, there is a great deal of speculative possibility still unwritten that it seems almost inevitable to burst forth eventually. In literary fiction, where the characters and scenario are picked merely to act out a theme, the situation is different.

I tend to question the process when groups of writers, or hired hacks, produce formula stories based on a popular series. The motive is purely financial and the writers need to be particularly inventive if the average reader is to keep following stories with progressively less creative fire for an extended period.

Would I want someone to pick up my stories after I'm dead and keep them going? Not sure -- where does he mail the royalty cheques?

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