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Ser Scot A Ellison

Does starting a series create an implied agreement that the series will be completed?

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Chris Wooding's Tales of the Ketty Jay was supposed to be an ongoing series which he'd periodically return to, but then he realised that wasn't going to work for him, so he made it into a four book series with a beginning, middle and definitive end.

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8 hours ago, ants said:

I think most people who have argued against Ser Scott and Ran, have argued that the author should have a good faith intention to finish the books.  That doesn't mean things can't go wrong.  But it also means that, where possible, the author has some obligation to satisfy the fans.  Two extreme examples I can think of are Robert Jordan and Moira J Moore.  In the case of Jordan, faced with his own impending death he went to quite extreme lengths to ensure that not only did we know how the story ended, but received three books that provided it.  In the case of Moira J Moore, with her series cancelled due to sales, she still made the final book of the series available through non-standard systems.

I do not expect that this should be matched by other authors.  I especially recognise that authors who have unexpected events (not necessarily tragedies) like what happened with Rawn can quite understandably not complete books.  However, I do think authors have some obligation where possible to answer the understandable yearning of the readers to KNOW WHAT HAPPENS.  If it is a tragedy, this may not be possible.  But I do expect something.  Harry Connolly's 20 Palaces series was fantastic, and left on a semi-cliffhanger.  But it got cancelled, he's explained this to his audience, and so we move on.  Similar with why we can't get the last Andrea Cort book in english.  

I do think it is slightly different for very long series, or ones that have taken significant time to write.  Especially where the authors are (now) old.  It was alluded to above that Jim Butcher has had some quite bad things happen in his life.  I'm sorry to hear that.  And if the Dresden files never is completed, I'll understand that.  What I won't accept is that for a series that is 15 odd books long, where he's talked about knowing where it is going, that there aren't some sort of notes on where its heading.  They might not be up to date (e.g. a book out of date), but I think when you've made an obligation like that, I'd expect that.  Similarly with Martin, Janny Wurts or Michelle West, all who are taking significant times per book for major series, where those series are have been being written for over a decade, I would expect to have some kind of notes and explanations in the event of tragedy.  Sorry, but I do think that an author creates this obligation by getting people to buy into their worlds.  I've followed all three authors for the best part of two decades - surely writing the equivalent of a novella saying what was to happen in case of the worst isn't too much to ask? 

And sometimes, the behaviour by the author is much worse.  Look at Robin McKinley.  She wrote Sunshine, a fantastic book and has made it very clear that there will be no sequel.  She doesn't like sequels, and is sick of people pestering her for one.  This is totally acceptable.  She wrote it as a single book, and even if there are some threads that could be continued, she is under no obligation and should be under no expectation to continue that.

However, she then wrote Pegasus. Published in 2010.  Which on the current listing on Amazon says "the first book in a magical tale of fantasy and friendship . . . ".  Needless to say, there hasn't been any subsequent books in the series, and there is no mention of it on her website beyond a 2012 post to say she's struggling with it.  Do I think this is acceptable? No.  And she's one of my favourite writers. Other books have come out since.  The caption on one reads "A compelling and inventive novel set in a world where science and magic are at odds, by Robin McKinley, the Newbery-winning author of The Hero and the Crown and The Blue Sword, as well as the classic titles Beauty, Chalice, Spindle’s End, Pegasus and Sunshine". I do not think this is appropriate.  At the very least, an explanation of if we should still wait for books two and three would be the minimum to put on her website.  She writes a blog! 

These are not like for like.  The ice cream vendor hasn't made a promise.  The person buying the book has not made a promise.  But I think most people would consider that the author has made a promise to try and finish the series.  There is that implicit intention.  If there was no such intention, and it was widely viewed as such, then sales of first books would be significantly less.  

As has been mentioned, most have the view that they must try, and have a good faith go at it.  We don't expect that life won't always get in the way, but if it does, an explanation of some sort is fair.  At the very least, to say that its not happening, move on with your life.  

Ants,

I appreciate your point here.  Yes, I too think authors should try to complete series that they undertake. 

I think the fundamental problem is that "Good Faith" is a fairly subjective term.  We are dealing with artists who are not working on a time clock.  One person's "good faith effort" is not necessarily going to be everyone's which leaves the question of what is "good faith effort" up in the air.  It is such a fuzzy term that how can any "reasonable" standard exist as to what actually constitutes "good faith effort".  

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41 minutes ago, Werthead said:

Chris Wooding's Tales of the Ketty Jay was supposed to be an ongoing series which he'd periodically return to, but then he realised that wasn't going to work for him, so he made it into a four book series with a beginning, middle and definitive end.

That happens more often than you'd think. I had a whole big idea of doing one long continuous series and yet market forces as well as the well of inspiration dictated otherwise.

Unless you're a self-published and even then, you don't always get to decide where your books will take you.

Wasn't the Wheel of Time originally going to be 4-5 books?

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The Frost and Wooding examples are what I'd like (personal preference/opinion only/etc/etc) to see more of. Authors doing what's best for the story. They recognized for whatever reason the end was in sight and wrapped things up.

Much of the angst expressed here and elsewhere over the history of this forum and others can be pinned on the incomplete nature of open stories, versus a promise a product will be x volumes (no more, no less).  

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53 minutes ago, C.T. Phipps said:

Wasn't the Wheel of Time originally going to be 4-5 books?

I'm not a WoT historian, but as I remember it, it was originally supposed to be a trilogy with the first three books being book 1.  Obviously that must have been very early in the planning process, since that would be a crazy amount to include in one book. 

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Quote

 

Wasn't the Wheel of Time originally going to be 4-5 books?

 

RJ handed Tom Doherty an outline for the entire series which he said was a trilogy. Doherty said bullshit, this was going to be six books and signed a contract for that. It turned out to be fourteen.

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Yeah, I think conflating the 'this will be 3 books but turned out to never ever end' with 'this will be 3 books but ended up being 2' kind of misses the forest for the trees. Though there were (rightfully) a lot of complaints about WoT growing fatter and fatter and fatter as time went on, that's something of a different complaint than 'this has not actually finished and never will'. 

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7 hours ago, C.T. Phipps said:

Mind you, sometimes authors also get ahead of themselves.

Jeanine Frost wrote the urban fantasy romance CAT AND BONES series which she told her readers would be seven books then she released six because, "Well, the story ended early. Sorry guys. No more here. Please move on."

Or they find themselves planning a series and end up doing a trilogy.

Artistic plans change.

I don't think anyone has an issue with that, just as I don't think anyone has an issue with failure to complete a series if a reasonable excuse is given.  Its those who leave the audience hanging without making any attempt to explain things (either from the plot/character outcomes and why there won't be more books) that people have an issue with. 

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6 hours ago, Myrddin said:

The Frost and Wooding examples are what I'd like (personal preference/opinion only/etc/etc) to see more of. Authors doing what's best for the story. They recognized for whatever reason the end was in sight and wrapped things up.

Much of the angst expressed here and elsewhere over the history of this forum and others can be pinned on the incomplete nature of open stories, versus a promise a product will be x volumes (no more, no less).  

 

5 hours ago, Kalbear said:

Yeah, I think conflating the 'this will be 3 books but turned out to never ever end' with 'this will be 3 books but ended up being 2' kind of misses the forest for the trees. Though there were (rightfully) a lot of complaints about WoT growing fatter and fatter and fatter as time went on, that's something of a different complaint than 'this has not actually finished and never will'. 

Yep.  The major issue is that people want to know what happens.  If the series is wrapped up, whether shorter or longer, I don't think many will complain (although in the case of WOT, if people perceive it to be padding, they might for different reasons).  Its why I think any author who has written a long, incomplete series should have notes on how it concludes, so that in the worst case scenario at least the fans know what was intended.  

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17 hours ago, ants said:

It was alluded to above that Jim Butcher has had some quite bad things happen in his life.  I'm sorry to hear that.  And if the Dresden files never is completed, I'll understand that.    

What happened to Butcher?  Only thing I recall recently was him getting engaged (and that's probably not all that recent)...

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1 hour ago, frodostark said:

What happened to Butcher?  Only thing I recall recently was him getting engaged (and that's probably not all that recent)...

Short version?

He got divorced

Got engaged

Decided to use that Harry Dresden money to build her a house

The house took forever because he apparently got the worst contractors in the world and he spent his time in a hotel which hasn't been conducive to writing.

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The Twenty Palaces situation is a good example of working with what you got--the author explained clearly that sales were not there so we weren't getting another one, but the individual story of the book was wrapped up.  Yes, there were major revelations in the book itself that made me go "holy crap" and I'd want to know more about, but it's the kind of thing wherein he could come back to it later if numbers and time permit and I'd pick it back up.  Same thing with Black Sun's Daughter--do I want more given what happened, you bet.  But they're both sitting at a resting point.

Wurts I just know is very, very slow and I pick them up again once I'm two behind, because I discovered a while back that I never like the most recent book when I first read it, but I like it after I've read the following one.  This is probably just me.  Rawn--every few years we hear a peep that she's working on it, but I think the remaining fandom just wants to know some of the withheld details, by now.

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