There’s always that one book or film in a franchise where you wonder why they bothered: the Godfather 3; the Indiana Jones film with the aliens and Shiea La Beouf; all of the Sookie Stackhouse books; the third Mummy film where the dead lady returns as a different person and they don’t bother even trying to explain it; the last few Morganville Vampires, etc. They make it because adding the name to it makes them money, but they’ve got to the point where they’ve run out of ideas and/or are sick to death over the whole idea– or, sometimes, they simply aren’t aware that they’ve got to the end of what they can possibly do and carry on regardless.
So, what can you and I do not to let our super-famous, super-successful series get to our heads enough that we throw it all down the pan?
Well, the best idea is surely to stop when you don’t enjoy writing it any more, right? I mean, you’ll get a brand new band of haters from your previous fans, but you won’t be creating shit and not having fun, right?
But thankfully, there’s more to it than that, so this post hasn’t ended just yet (unless you want it to; in which case you can leave happily and I’ll be none the wiser).
Because we all get to a point where we hate doing what we’re doing. I’m at that point now because of all the wonderful, wonderful editing that I am not doing because it is too awful. Does that mean I should give up? I mean, I’m not enjoying it right now — and I’ve not yet got any fans to turn into haters, so that’s a plus. I should stop, right?
As much as I almost wish to, no. I shouldn’t.
So how do you tell when you’re ready to hang up your manuscript? When do you wave your beautiful little characters off into the sunset… or their own horrific deaths?
Well, I suppose you trust the people around you. Not your family, because they’re probably too nice to point out how badly you’ve gone wrong. And not your editors and publishing company, because — well, they don’t really care so long as they can squeeze a little more money out of it all (Disclaimer: I know next to nothing about the publishing industry and I’m a Liberal; don’t trust everything I say). Instead, you trust your beta readers and CPs (Second disclaimer: I have neither of these things and so cannot be called an expert). If you have them from the very beginning, they’ll know when things are going down hill — they’re like the people who will actually buy and read a book but they don’t pay for it and you get to actually ask them for help in making the book better instead of having to look like a professional when you still don’t have a clue what you’re doing.
In short? Don’t give up when it gets hard but do give up if the people who know your novels tell you to. Unless you don’t want to. The world’s your oyster, after all.