…or at least, some series do. There are of course different levels of quality amongst the lot, a fact that has much to do with authors and the teams that help with the production process. But I’ve been wondering lately if there might be an additional, more generalized factor to consider: “open” versus “closed” series.
With those terms, I’m referring to the intentions and structure when creating a series. A “closed” series shall (by my decree!) refer to a series that has a specific beginning and end planned from the start. An example that comes to mind is the Harry Potter series. Author J.K. Rowling always intended for there to be seven books chronicling Potter’s years at magic school, in which he grows into his prophesied role of champion of the magic world. Given its structure, it was easy to see the series as one work with different “acts,” each one serving a particular expositional purpose.
The other end of that spectrum would be an “open” series, which may involve some planning (of plot arc, for example) on the author’s or publisher’s part, but by-and-large can conceivably go on and on…and sometimes does. Whether that’s a good thing is of course wholly subjective. Some examples of open series include Anita Blake, Sookie Stackhouse, and (unless I’m mistaken) the Dresden Files.
Personally, I’m not sure if I prefer one over the other, though I find that there are potential advantages and drawbacks to either type. With an open series, there seems to be more of a day-to-day sort of vibe…wherein a reader is living right alongside there series’ characters, catching them on a random day of life. Characters in these series tend to do a lot of evolving in the long run, and the series itself might drastically change in tone, focus, or even genre (think Anita Blake). The potential pitfall to this is a series outstaying its welcome.
So, what to you think?
- Do you have a preference for “open” or “closed” series (or maybe a hybrid of the two types)?
- Can you think of any elements that are typical to either type?
- Do you think a series can “outstay its welcome”?