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How Do I Map Out My Original Idea For A Series of Books, Much Like The TWILIGHT Series of Books? - Question/Answer Now Playing

How Do I Map Out My Original Idea For A Series of Books, Much Like The TWILIGHT Series of Books?

Aug 11, 2010

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How Do I Map Out My Original Idea For A Series of Books, Much Like The TWILIGHT Series of Books? - Question/Answer Q & A Discussion

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Bass: part 1
at Aug 12, 2010 - 7:35 AM
One of the mistakes I notice in a lot of would-be series (at various stages of production) is that the use the length of the telling to postpone the ending.

The first part of the series ends on a cliffhanger with the promise it will be resolved "later". Later might be the next episode, or five years later. This is only sustainable with great curiosity. If the curiosity of the audience is peaked, they'll follow the writer's lead, trusting the ending will be worth the wait. If the curiosity is lacking, the series will not continue.

I think this might be why so many open-ended series on television revolve around mysteries; THE X-FILES, ODYSSEY 5, FRINGE, LOST, HEROES, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA - they all have a vast mystery that piques curiosity and moves towards conclusion.

However, once that curiosity is piqued, it must be answered otherwise you risk burn-out. The shows I mentioned all generated enormous interest in their beginnings but after a season or two, the audience numbers plummeted as more questions were asked with no substantive answers being given.

BABYLON 5 was extremely adept at this (and was modelled on a novel), creating curiosity and then answering it over the course of five years, and the show changed and progressed effectively.

However, I feel the reason BABYLON 5 stands above the rest, the reason it was able to progress the story and answer questions is that it was meticulously planned from its inception.

As I said, I think many shows create a mystery with only an idea of the final answer. They know who's behind the conspiracy, but what they don't know is the story. They don't know how the conspiracy is discovered and toppled, or how it wins. They don't know the ending, and they don't know the middle and how to get there. So the series essentially tread water. The examples I mentioned (other than BABYLON 5, ODYSSEY 5, and FRINGE) all ended, and not one of them was applauded. They ended at least one year after people had stopped caring, and the majority those who remained were less than satisfied.

Endings are so damned hard to do well, I think the long-form series is abused so that no one has to really write one. They come up with an idea for a climax then hope the story will fill itself in. Of course without a concrete ending in sight, they can't set up or pay off anything relating to it. They can't answer a question then progress the story off the revelation because they don't know where it's going. So I think these writing teams avoid the difficulty of really writing an ending by using the length of the telling.
StevenG wrote
at Aug 11, 2010 - 9:59 PM
Great Question, Great Answer!

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