Saying Goodbye

What? How did it get to be Friday already!

Saying Goodbye
Pam Uphoff

I love my characters.

But have I gotten stuck in a rut? Am I writing the series because it’s (moderately) popular, or because I’m lazy?

It’s so easy to jump back into a story with the same characters, my good buddies. Just a new problem, maybe a slight expansion of the world, a few new secondary characters, some new Bad Guys . . . But the heavy work, the Hero is already there, full formed and raring to go. You already know the color of his hair and eyes, how tall he is and why he has this bad attitude toward women. His job, his proficiencies, his boss, home car or horse, favorite gun or sword . . . already done.

Now, the fans, all twelve of them, are clamoring for more stories with the hero. And being who they are, they all have specific things they want to see, and apparently spend a serious amount of time thinking up disastrous situations I ought to throw him in.

It’s really hard to resist.

Hard to tell yourself that you’re feeling stale, and need to do something entirely different for at least one book, maybe two.

And once you’ve done that . . . darned if that one doesn’t show signs of being the first book in a new series.

You can’t win.

You just have to keep writing.

How to kill a series? The main one that seems to work for TV series is to marry off the MC. Once there’s no sexual tension, it’s Dead, Jim. Or at least it’s supposed to be. Mine had kids that took over. Then grandkids. Great grandkids are starting to show up.

Maybe I will solve The Last Problem in the Multiverse, and all the fans will be happy.

The first book:

And the 24th!!!!!!


  1. “Mine had kids that took over. Then grandkids. Great grandkids are starting to show up.”

    Same here, in the Trilogy and in the other books which picked up the lives and adventures of subsidiary characters. People grow, they grow up, they change – no character remains in stasis. So – bring in the grown children to pick up the narrative. Or go back to an earlier period; right now I am writing the gold-rush era adventures of a teenage boy who was in the last book as a very much older man – writing him at both ends of his life, as it were.

    It was a bit of a wrench, though – when I finished my first novel and had to say good-bye to the characters. (It wasn’t a series novel.)

  2. You could pull a D@rkover, have the parent culture show up and decide to reunify their missing colony and it ends in peace, love, and peanuts. πŸ˜€
    And then you get hit with a trilogy about a fight to remain independent. πŸ˜›

    1. Actually I have the Parent Culture trying to dominate the Multiverse, including the lost colonies and Exile Worlds where they sent those nasty genetic experiments who started doing magic.

  3. Well, there’s the “Destroy The World” series ending (of course, somebody might have to destroy that universe/multiverse).

    On the other hand, Michael Moorcock tried to end his Elric stories by destroying Elric and Elric’s universe but found himself writing more Elric stories that predate the “End Of The Universe”. 😈

  4. It’s so easy to jump back into a story with the same characters, my good buddies. Just a new problem, maybe a slight expansion of the world, a few new secondary characters, some new Bad Guys

    I note that this is also true as a reader. One of the reasons I like series fiction is that going back to the same world, seeing at least some of the same characters, is like visiting old friends. Sometimes I get the pleasant confirmation that last stories “hero” has continued to have a reasonably happy life after all the trials of that story. And sometimes I learn that the author cut things off before it turned into tragedy and the current crop are having to deal with the rest (generally, I tend to prefer the former but the latter is probably a more compelling story in most cases).

  5. Is the series selling well? Are you writing for Art or money? Your paying readers know what they want; if you don’t give it to them they’ll click away to someone who will.

    Look at E.C. Tubb’s Wikipedia page. Yes, he wrote 33 novels in one series and 17 in another, but that didn’t stop him from writing other stuff.

    1. On the other hand, what if you can find a more lucrative market by doing a different series?

      1. There’s nothing stopping you from writing other books. If they sell better than the series books, pause or stop the series and go on to the new stuff.

          1. If you’re writing for money, I’d take that as a good indicator of where you should put your efforts.

            You’re using the books that sell to direct customers to your other books, right? If their subjects or styles are so different that the same customers have such a marked preference, a sample chapter might be better than just “other titles by Pam Uphoff.”

    2. That’s not even counting the stuff he wrote under pseudonyms.

      Apparently, there is an entire issue of a ’50s British SF magazine where every story, and every letter in the letter column, were all written by Tubb under a host of pseudonyms.

  6. What’s worse is when you write a story that isn’t in a popular series and people give it bad reviews because it isn’t a book in the popular series.
    Even when it says that the books is part of another series.

      1. No, I wouldn’t put it like that, it’s just a few of them who drive me crazy at times. But hey, at least they buy everything I write, that’s good, isn’t it?

    1. Agreed. That’s why most of the Colplatschki books can stand on their own, even though they share a world. And the Powers (WWI) books are a locked trilogy. My muse can go to perdition, but I’m not writing about Communist Hungary. No.

  7. I like endings. One of the reasons I could never get into comic books is that the stories *never* end. Bruce Wayne should be dead of old age. Give it a proper ending. It’s better leave them wanting more than to have them leave wanting a more satisfying story.

      1. There’s still plenty of room at the bottom…

        No, seriously. Sometimes you (well, at least I) am tired, distracted, or the pain meds haven’t kicked in, and I don’t want something that’s original and complex. A variation on the Same Old Stuff will do just fine.

        I buy copies of Carter Brown’s “Al Wheeler” cop mysteries when I can find them. Nobody ever accused Brown of hifalutin’ writing even back in the ’60s. The books are all rigidly formulaic. But they make coherent sense from beginning to end and have a recognizeable if lightweight plot, which is a lot more than can be said from a lot of modern mainstream fiction. They’re just the thing for whiling away some time in a waiting room or an insomniac night.

        Was it great writing? No, but Wikipedia says Alan Yates sold 322
        books just under his “Carter Brown” pseudonym.

        “And then you get paid.”

    1. They do a soft reboot every decade or so I think. And a full-scale reboot now and again.

      1. I wish they’d embrace the periodic reboots and use them to give real endings once in a while. Have a Bruce Wayne who succeeds once in a while. Or one who gets killed for real and replaced by one of the Robins. I liked how The Dark Knight Rises gave Batman a happy ending instead of setup for more sequels. He changed Gotham, got a replacement, and gets to sleep with Anne Hathaway for the rest of his life.

        1. I wish they’d embrace the periodic reboots and use them to give real endings once in a while.

          That’s one of the things I liked about the old DC “multiverse”–before that “Crisis on Infinite Earths” rewrote everything. “Earth 1” had had the ongoing, neverchanging story. Earth 2 had the “happy endings”. Superman finally getting together with Lois. Batman marrying, settling down, and having a family, and when he finally died, he died. They might fight crime but their stories were essentially over. IMO, it provided that spark of completeness that the ongoing story lacked. This is why one of my all time favorite Batman stories, Comics stories, just plain stories for that matter, is “The Autobiography of Bruce Wayne”.

  8. I like Wine of the Gods but there are so many dangling threads (the Oners have more backstory, what happens when no one in the Kingdom dies? Was that entire brouhaha about the succession unnecessary? What happens when portals cross-connect the Kingdom – but nowhere else? What’s Earth (prime?) going to do next? What happens when gods start showing up in the Empire?) that you will never answer all the questions.

    It has become 1632-like: You and an army of authors could write in that universe indefinitely.

    From my perspective: Write what you want to write. I’ll buy it no matter the setting. Lawyers on Mars was a hugely different book – yet still very good.

        1. The problem is that it’s so fun to write them, I have to fight for the time to write the second draft, get edits and copyedits, get them into the master copy, covers . . . publish them . . . I am writing so far ahead of the publishing, that I can foreshadow things five books ahead.

  9. It’s always a wrench when I finish a book and then must leave the characters. At least for a while, because I find I can’t yet do all the various publishing tasks and write. I know some writers can, and maybe I’ll be able to eventually, but not yet.

    However, I plan to keep writing more stories about my favorite characters in my North-lands for as long as I have ideas and fun. Of course, I’ll be writing about new characters in new worlds, too. I have the usual writer problem. Too. Many. Ideas. πŸ˜€ It’s a high quality problem.

    1. IIRC, the victim was murdered by a fan because he killed his main character. In the rough draft as he always did, because he’d come to hate the character. But because of the good sales, the MC’s hideously painful and drawn out death scene was always removed before publishing.

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