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Series Progression

I’m having a happy Monday (off work!) and I hope you are too.

Today I’d like to discuss fiction novel series. I heard a comment on Goodreads that series tend to get better or worse as they progress, which intrigued me. Since I’m writing my own fiction series (The Conduct Series), that comment also made me a little nervous. Will readers enjoy #2 and #3 even more, or will they think the story’s “jumped the shark”?

Obviously all we can do is our best job as writers, knowing some readers might love it and some readers might hate it. As a new author, I’m hoping subsequent novels will improve simply because I’m learning so much about writing as I go. I was pleased when Rachel from Oklahoma recently left this review on Goodreads for Bad Behavior (#2):

“I don’t know how Jennifer Lane got all that story line into this book I’ll never understand, but she did it. I really like that we get to see into Sophie and Grant’s therapy appointments like we get to see their parole appointments too. Not to mention how far Grant and Sophie both come in this book, it’s amazing, and it doesn’t seem contrived just to get the book moving. I can’t wait to see what happens in book #3!”

Thinking about the progression of my favorite series, I’m not sure if I agree they vastly improve or tank. Some of them seem to maintain the same high quality throughout, even though the focus of the story might change as the characters develop.

The Bronze Horseman trilogy by Paullina Simons: I loved each of these books equally, happy for the opportunity to witness the ups and downs of a married couple.
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon: Incredibly, each book gets even longer in this series! But I’ve enjoyed all seven books so far.
I know some readers had issues with Breaking Dawn, but I believe this was one series that did improve as it progressed.
The first two books were fantastic, but I felt a real let-down with Mockingjay (#3).
How do you feel about the progression of some of your favorite series?
For today only (5/30/11), All Romance Ebooks offers a 50% rebate on ebooks. Here’s your chance to get With Good Behavior and Bad Behavior for $3.50!
Now it’s time for Meet an Author Monday hosted by Lisa Sanchez (visit her blog for instructions).
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10 thoughts on “Series Progression”

  1. Really enjoyed reading your post. I love Diana Gabaldon's series. The depth of her books and the descriptions of everyday things was interesting. It was definitely addicting. I think it is hit and miss as far as series go. Sometimes the reader expects too much and the author doesn't give as much and visa versa. Is there really a formula? I am a new follower and look forward to reading more. I would love a visit to my blog when you have a moment. DonnaI write and life and I write about books. http://mylife-in-stories.blogspot.com

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  2. Karen, I like to read series after they're finished so there's not a long wait. But I've been pretty pleased with most series I've read.Donna, thanks for stopping by! Your German shepherds are beautiful. I think it would be a lot of pressure on a well-established author like Diana Gabaldon to keep cranking out such masterpieces with all the reader input she undoubtedly receives, but she obviously does that with aplomb!

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  3. I guess it all depends on the reader and what we ultimately expect from the story. I agree with you on Twilight, and I haven't read #3 of The Hunger Games because I've been told how disappointing it is for others – but I should give it a chance. I've loved most of The Chronicles of Narnia and Harry Potter. The best thing about a series is knowing you're not really done when you're done. 🙂

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  4. Michelle, when we fall in love with the characters it's certainly awesome to know there's more coming with a series. It's a chance to really get to know the characters on a deep level, which I love. I still haven't dived into the Harry Potter books but I think I will someday.

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  5. Reading that review of you book must have made you so proud! Phillipa Gregory's WIDEACRE series kept me hooked until the very end. I'm reading CATCHING FIRE right now, #2 in the Hunger Games series. So far, so good. I tried reading past book one of the Twilight series, but stopped. I didn't love them as much as the first.

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  6. Julie, I'm sure you'll be getting many positive reviews when your book gets published! I LOVED Catching Fire and stayed up until the wee hours of the night to finish it. I think New Moon was a total downer but probably necessary for the story arc, and Eclipse was my favorite. I haven't read Wideacre–those are historical romances?

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  7. I love series book for the pleasure to meet again with characters I loved and to get a looonger story :)I love series, except for when they end. Then I'm mourning the characters and have no choice than…read again!I read your first Book On Good Behavior twice already, and the second one (just) once so far *owes you a review on this one though* and I can't wait for the third book to come by so I can re-read the whole thing again!I did that with Harry Potter and re-read the whole thing again recently, so I think I read the first one…many times? (And it's my least favourite).What I love too about series is that you can go further in the story, deeper in the characters and longer in the pleasure. I LOVE that you chose to write a series. Thank you Jen !I also enjoy when an author writes books about completely different characters, but then you meet one of the previous in the new book, not really a series, but it's nice to get an update on \”people\” you liked (like \”Ben and Suzy where running after their two kids\” and when you left them in another, previous book they were just getting married) Isabel Wolff does that and I appreciate the surprise!

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  8. Hi Cilly! I'm so happy you're enjoying The Conduct Series. I agree with you about mourning the characters from a series. I'll be really sad when Outlander ends, after reading about 6,000 pages of Jamie and Claire. I didn't really like the beginning of Outlander but reading it again helped me to see how important it was as a set-up to the series. And that's cool when each book in the series focuses on different characters but you still get to hear about the original characters.

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