It’s an awkward, sort of sad moment. You pick up the sequel of a series you’ve always loved, thrilled to be resuming your journey with an old friend. Wow, you’re so excited to read the next chapter in the characters’ lives, to catch up and see what they’ve been up to while you’ve been apart. You turn to the first page, smiling. You’re ready. And then excitedly you begin to read, thrilled as you dive into the story. This is going to be great.
Time passes. You’ve been reading for a while, or maybe it’s actually only a few pages in. You’re not sure, because there is an unpleasant feeling beginning to build. You look down at the text, confused. Wow, you think, what’s going on here? What am I missing? Something feels off. Still confused, you put the book down, stand up and take a break. Maybe if you clear your head a little, do something else and come back to it, it will make more sense. You get some water and sit back down. You pick the book up again, and you read some more. The unpleasant feeling gets stronger. Now you know it’s not your imagination. Something is going on here.
Book character, did you always talk that way? Using those phrases, that at one point seemed so intelligent and now just seem arrogant? Were your sentences always so rambling, your storyline so unbelievable? Wow, things magically fall into place for you, in a way that’s just not super realistic. You know, now that I think about it, you’re not sophisticated. You are a giant snob. Why didn’t I see that before? You continue on reading, your head filled with negative thoughts that are growing stronger, but driven by a need to try to finish the book, for completion’s sake. All the while, you continue getting more and more disgusted. How did I ever enjoy spending time reading about this character? I’m starting to root for the antagonist.
Finally, something compels you to put the book down, awash in disappointment. Either you finished reading it, or you just couldn’t take it anymore. Book character, you think, I don’t know if we’ll be seeing each other again. I don’t know if I can go through this again, or that I want to. Sadly, I think our reading relationship may be over. I may have just the littlest bit of curiosity about where your life goes next, but it’s really small. Probably not enough to read the next book.
Book character, you’ve changed. But it’s a bad change. A change that took away all your personality and depth. You’re a shell of yourself. And that’s the problem.
This happened to me recently, and as strange as it sounds it really did bother me. I used to enjoy reading this particular series so much. The lead character was a little unrealistic sure, like some sort of cross between James Bond and Sherlock Holmes, but the plot was riveting, the protagonist likable and witty, the stories genuinely enjoyable. But then about 10 books into the series, it all changed.
The plot began to feel manufactured. The action was stale and sloppily written. And the protagonist was for lack of a better term, a pain. He had changed, but not in a sense of real character development. He was a flimsy shadow of the developed, complex person of before. It was like the authors were trying to churn out his story as quickly as possible, at the expense of everything else.
It took me three attempts at the sequels to finally throw in the towel. Lots of wasted money on Kindle. Lots of hours I won’t get back.
Book character I’ll miss you. Not the new you. The old one. The new you I can live without. Forever.
Has this happened to you? What do you think about book series? Are all series doomed to eventually become repetitive as the author loses interest? Or can some hold on to that spark throughout the life of the series and characters? How do you continue to evolve your characters in a realistic and interesting way? Let me know in the comments!
Wishing you lots of interesting book characters to read and write about,