More of the Same

There is no harm in sticking with a good thing. Once you’ve written and published your book, that doesn’t mean that you have to forget the people who live in it forever, and move on to something totally brand new and original. You can write about them again. Maybe just as background for totally new people, just living in the same town maybe. You could write a whole series of books that stand totally alone, with totally different characters but with similar themes. Just not too similar though. Think Raiders of the Lost Ark, Dan Brown, or Lara Croft series kind of similar – similar, but still very different.

One memorable occasion I read and loved a book by a certain author, so I promptly bought another two by him. They weren’t listed as a series, and even though I’m very partial to the familiarity of an author’s voice coming through very clearly in every book, it dawned on me not far into book two that I was reading the exact same plot with different characters, items of importance, and scenery. Not keen on believing that, I had a quick zoom through his third book, and with a nasty sinking feeling that I could have saved my money, realized that this too, was the exact same sequence of events with names and places changed. Clearly caring about it put me in the minority if the book’s sales ranks and reviews were anything to go by. At the end of the day, they were all well written, and there’s comfort in sameness for many of us when at the time all we want is a bit of escapism. I just thought that in that particular instance the sameness was too much. Not being too blatant with the basic skeleton plot though, it can be a fabulous way to build a group of books for your list where the reader knows exactly what he’s going to get, and wants it because he isn’t in the mood for heavy thought or emotion.

I suppose that I should be vastly ashamed to admit that in my very early teen years I was obsessed with Barbara Cartland books. Aah – the romance and gorgeous rich heroic guys. Always read while hidden in the loose cover of something a little more literary of course, so that nobody ever knew my secret. Where was the good old face-saving Kindle in those days? Now Barbara absolutely wrote to a very obvious formula, and her books sold in their millions. Gorgeous young orphan or lady minus her fortune meets gorgeous super-rich Duke. Big misunderstanding – much heaving of bosoms – a dangerous kidnap – hero saves the day – more heaving bosoms – happily ever after.

Those books were exactly what a whole lot of readers wanted regardless of their sameness, so why not have a go at a little bit of it yourself? No need for writer’s block when you already have a whole pile of inspiration in your already created worlds, and if you’ve found a specific kind of action that readers like, give them more of it in a recognizable and already appreciated form – just not copying and pasting and name changing though – familiar can also be just as sweet, but also  brand new.

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Image Courtesy Pixabay

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6 thoughts on “More of the Same”

  1. Writing a series of books with the same characters is a good way not to let go of them completely. I don’t think I’ve ever read books like the ones you’re talking about here–where the plots and circumstances are pretty much the same but have different town and character names.

    I enjoy writing books in a series, either using the same main characters in all the books while throwing them in different plots and circumstances, or changing the main characters in each book while the previous main characters are still there but become secondary characters.

    My novellas and novels do stand alone but they’re more pleasurable if read in the order they were written (at least the ones with the same main characters). Even if I had a formula, I don’t think I could stick to it. How could the writer not get bored with their own writing?

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  2. Great advice. Sometimes genre novels can follow the dots so closely that you might feel as if you were reading the same book (movies do the same, of course) but I guess there’s comfort in sameness.

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  3. Reblogged this on The Dragon's Lair and commented:
    I wonder how many dusty and forgotten worlds there are out there? Thanks for this thought provoking post, Jo Robinson!

    Back in my teens, I spent some time reading Harlequin romances. After about the fifth one, I was justifiably bored by the repetition. Kind of ruined romances for me and I have never read them since. 😂

    I DO love the idea, though, of continuing to build and expand a world you have created! It’s built, it’s right there, and ready for some evolution. Doesn’t even need to be the same time period. Maybe you could jump a couple of hundred years and have a story in which new characters are directly or indirectly influenced by the historical actions of your original characters.

    I smell smoke! Ooh! I think my brain’s on fire! LOL.

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