The Ongoing Character

As a reader, I love a long series of books with ongoing characters. Because you’ve already had a ‘history’ with the characters, it allows you to ‘drop back in on them’ later in time. You don’t have to spend a lot of time figuring out their backstory or motivations, because you know them so well.

I started watching the first season of Castle on DVD.  The series starts out with a mystery writer who has killed off his sleuth and is blocked creating his next character.

It made me wonder about authors who have long running series and write the character over and over again.  Take one of my personal favorites:  Jim Butcher.  He writes an urban fantasy series about Harry Dresden, modern day wizard of Chicago.  I love these books.  He cannot write them fast enough to make me happy.  When a new one is coming out, I go back and re read all the books in the series to get me warmed up for the new one.  Do you see where I’m coming from?  I love Harry Dresden.  But maybe, Jim Butcher doesn’t.  He’s written some other fantasy books that he pimps pretty regularly.  I picked up the first trilogy and didn’t even get through the first two books.  All I kept thinking was, “Butcher is wasting time writing this when he could’ve been cranking out a Harry Dresden book.”

So, maybe the creator is bored with his creation?  Maybe it’s the human condition to always want something we don’t have.  Maybe that’s why Madonna is always trying to act when what she’s good at is singing?

I don’t know.  I guess I’d like to have the problem.  I’d like to create a character so popular I can write book after book and have fans clamoring for more…  Then maybe boredom would set in… Nah.

I hope I would be thanking my lucky stars, counting my advance and getting to work on the next in a long series that would make my readers happy.

–Sandee Wagner


12 thoughts on “The Ongoing Character

  1. Sandee,
    I’d love for you to create an unforgettable character that readers keep clamoring for, too. Wouldn’t that be just TOO cool?! And I could say I knew you when. 🙂

    By the way, I like to wish you, your hubby, Jackie Kramer, my hubby and all the other Marines out there a very Happy 236th Birthday!! SEMPER FI

  2. This is how I feel about Karen Chance’s Cassie Palmer Series vs her Dorina Basarab. I was once complaining to my sister “I wish she’d stop writing Dorina so I could get my Cassie fix faster.” My sister gasped and responded, “No! I love Dorina, I’m sick of Cassie.”

    Maybe it’s a business decision on Karen’s part, a way to expand her readership and snag new customers. Because while my sister passed on her Cassie books, she waits with baited breath for the new series. Which means Karen kept her old reader (me) and gained another (sister). And wouldn’t you know it, even though we each prefer a different series, we buy both.

  3. I’m that way about the Eve Dallas series by J.D. Robb. All the characters are “family” to me. When I saw Charlene Harris last fall, she admitted that she was finished with one series (the Grave series) and would be ending the Southern Vampire series with book 13. Of course, I think she has about five other mystery series she’s ALSO writing. Makes me wonder if writing several series at once keeps an author “fresh”.

  4. I wonder too, Jackie. It might be that Nora has a great capacity to keep it interesting because even though Eve is still the same, the mysteries are always different. The same can be said for Kinsey Millhone (Sue Grafton’s detective that is working her way through the alphabet). Same main character but totally different stories each time. Maybe that is why it works for mystery series but not so much with romances? Once they fall in love, we want to move on? I like the romances where the previous couples are secondary characters… spw

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