Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Questions! Questions! Genres and series and consistency, Oh My!

I'm kind of going to play off of Regina's post from yesterday. We've had this conversation before and her post spurred some questions from me. I'm honestly curious what other readers and writers think on this subject.

Do authors "owe" their readers anything when writing a series? If so, what do they "owe" them?

I'm not talking about good writing or character consistency here, but down to the meat of the series, how the books are written. If you start a series out that's high on romance, meaning the main focus of each story and each book is on the romance is it cheating a reader to veer away from the romance later on? I mean, there is still romance, but if the main focus of the series seems to shift from the romance of the main hero and heroine of the book and highlight multiple story lines instead? If the romance that used to come first seems to come second to other stories?

I mean it's his/her right. Their book, their characters, but is there a loyalty issue in there where you owe it to reader or a series to keep the focus, whichever genre it may be, the same throughout? I'm throwing out comments on both sides of the issue. I'm not taking a stand either way in this post. I'm honestly curious what YOU think. I can see points to each side of the coin.

Also (I'm just full of questions today) I saw a discussion going on recently on the difference between paranormal romance and urban fantasy with romantic elements. Where do you draw the line between the two genres? Do they go hand and hand where you can kind of label a book one or the other and you're still "safe"? Is there a distinct difference? Also, if you start a series out in either or of the above genres, later in the series, is it okay to phase out of that genre and focus your series more on the other one?

Does any of what I just said make sense or am I completely rambling today? LOL.

I'm excited to see what everyone thinks about this!


Trish S said...

I don't think readers are owed anything when it comes to a series. Characters do what they want and often that changes over time. Take LKH's Anita Blake series, it's changed greatly from the early books, but I still love it.

Paranormal Romance is more romance driven than Urban Fantasy, but I read them both equally. They fall under the larger group of Sci-fi to me.

Anne Rainey said...

First, an author's obligation to her readers. Yes, I do feel that she/he should deliver what she/he promised from the beginning. In any business you have a product that you sell, right? So, for instance, if you own a pizza place and everyone comes from miles around to eat your fabulous pizza, and then you suddenly stop offering fabulous pizza and turn it into a stripper bar instead you are going to lose customers! All those people came to have great pizza and now you have women taking off their tops and dancing on tables...not cool! LOL Okay, bad example but you get the idea. Sell what you promised in the beginning! If you are just dying to open a damn strip bar, great, open one, but don't cheat ALL those hungry pizza lovin' customers to do it! Books are no different, imo.

Now, genres. The best difference I can find btwn paranormal and urban fantasy is that urban fantasy tends to have one, maybe a two, main characters, they appear in every book, and they tend to have some mission in life. A great example is Nalini Singh's Hunter Guilde series. I'm very choosy with the urban fantasy stories, however, because I don't read ANY of it unless there's a romantic storyline in there somewhere.

Serenity King said...

I have to agree with Anne on this one. I stopped reading two authors for the very reason discussed here. The series started off great and all of a sudden it starting getting very dark…It was almost as if the author was going through some sort of personal crisis and it was beginning to show in the writing.

In my opinion, when you start changing series drastically, you lose what drew the reader to you in the first place.


Jeanie and Jayha said...

Momma and I have often discussed this issue, do WE owe something to the readers when it comes to writing a series?

I (Jeanie) think when it comes to a series there needs to be enough of a link into the previous stories in order to keep the reader wanting more.

I know Momma (Jayha) loathes reading stories that leave a reader having to buy ANOTHER book just to find out what happens to the couple and whether they end up together.

Basically I (Jeanie) would have to go out on the limb and say when it comes to Paranormal Romance/Erotica there is the element of "magic" to it which differentiates it from Urban Romance/Erotica which I would believe to be more 'Contemporary'.

Hope that makes sense y'all!

Jeanie and Jayha :)

flikchick said... much I can add to what these ladies have already so articulately expressed! All points of view are valid. However, I PERSONALLY agree with what Anne, J and J, and Serenity have said.

Generally speaking, what Trish is saying, according to several authors, happens frequently. Wherever the "story" or "characters" take them, is where they go. In both cases, if I like where its going, I'm in. If not, catch it on the upswing.

Paranormal vs Urban....hmmmm...I basically agree with Trish on that one. I read them both, and as long as they dont get too extreme with sex, magic, s&m, bondage, pain and torture, or whatever, call it good for me.


Madison Scott said...

Seems like a lot of people are in agreement. this is an interesting topic. I've enjoyed hearing what everyone has to say on it.

Personally, I see a little bit of each side as well, but I lean toward continuing a series the way it started. Yes, some times characters go a different way than we originally thought, but I feel like that's different than taking the story in a different direction.

Think of it this way. What if Joe Blow had a suspense series. It was 80% suspense but did have about 20% romance. The first three books in the series read this way. YOu're a suspense fan and devoured the first three books. What if in book four it was 80% romance and 20% suspense? How would you feel as a reader?

Again, just throwing names and genres out there. This isn't directed at anything in specific. I'm honestly curious about the subject.

Jen said...

Personally I like for a series to stay consistent. If it is heavy on the romance, I want it to stay heavy on the romance all the way through the series.

Lakisha Spletzer said...

So many comments and all of them valid.

I personally have been struggling with this idea. As a newbie writer (I have two books out and both are book 1 in their series), I was concerned about even doing a series.

Some of my favorite authors have of late been disappointing me because they have veered so sharply from the original premise.

Now, I do agree that if your characters take a new direction, run with it but don't suddenly switch up what you're doing.

If your book is romance heavy and suddenly you have none at all, that will throw a reader. I will say that on the other hand, if all the writing elements are there and solid, a reader might take that leap of faith with you, just to see where you are going with the series.

But if you do something completely out in left field and/or bury your hero/heroine while others dominate, then it is time to think of doing a standalone book with any secondary characters that want them.

As far as urban fantasy versus paranormal romance, I'm still iffy myself on the details but I was told that paranormal romance needed to be heavy on the romance and that an urban fantasy needed to be set in a city and be contemporary.

Milinda said...

Urban fantasy vs paranormal romance. I read both and love it when they are one and the same. What I don't like is when an author gets tired or has actually run out of ideas and keeps slugging out books in the series despite the lack of creativity. My thought is this: take a break; if it doesn't bite your creativity bone again, give it up and admit it. Try a new series or "genre."

A new book came out in a rather famous series and half way through the book I decided to read some of the reviews to see if I was the only one disappointed. Reviews ranged from "great" to "needs a new editor; too many mistakes, typos and continuity errors." The latter was my experience. What made it worse was this was THE book we were all waiting for. Sad thing is that it has become a formula and that just not good reading.