Today we’re resurrecting an older post by popular demand. We archive most posts after 3-4 years, because the publishing world moves fast and what might be accurate today is completely off the mark tomorrow. Because time is short, we bulk-archive, meaning we hide all of the posts either by date or the category and sometimes interesting stuff gets caught up like the post below.
“Why do your books get better later in the series?”K.
It’s not that the books get better. It just feels that way. A series can be done in two ways: episodic and progressive, and we mostly do progressive route in terms of character development.
Comic books are classic examples of an episodic series. A typical episodic Batman comic book goes something like this: Batman faces a thorny problem; Batman gets his butt kicked, literally or figuratively, which causes him to reexamine himself; Batman wins through some clever twist, resolving his internal issue or seemingly making progress in it; but, and this is the crucial part, at the end of the story the status quo is restored and it’s as if the story never happened. The reader gets their emotional payoff, but the world of Batman and Batman himself remain largely unchanged.
Robert Parker’s Spenser stories are written in the similar vein. Children grow up, friendships are formed, cases are solved, but Spencer himself remains unchanged. Conan the Barbarian books are episodic. Sherlock Holmes stories are mostly episodic. Stephanie Plum is episodic. Things sometimes change for a book or two, but they inevitably return to the status quo.
To put this in Kate Daniels turns, Magic Bites and Magic Burns are somewhat episodic. There isn’t that much character progression. Or, another way to look at it, if we took Magic Dreams, but at the end, instead of Jim and Dali having a date, Jim remained oblivious and nothing happened. The characters would’ve come full circle and we could’ve done another story, again drawing on Dali’s unresolved crush for the emotional payoff.
The episodic nature of the series has several advantages. For one, it is easier to write. You’re essentially writing the same type of book over and over in different ways, starting with the same setting and same character. You never have to one-up yourself and reach for bigger and bigger stakes, you just have to have different stakes. You’re writing another fun adventure in life of the character.
For the reader, it means more or less the same emotional experience and payoff. While that sounds like a bad thing, it’s not. Let’s say Writer A writes funny mystery books about a group of quirky characters in a small town. When I buy one of those books, I know exactly what I’m going to get: a mystery wrapped in some humor and fun cameos by my favorites. I can count on that. It also has an additional benefit of letting the reader enter the series at any book and not be lost.
The downside of the episodic series is that no permanent change takes place. It’s difficult to read several of these in a row, because after the second or third one, the reader will catch on to the pattern and their attention will start to wander. But, if the writer is releasing one or two books a year and there is a break between the novels, episodic series works and can grow to have a huge fan-base. Kinsmen is episodic by nature and the series has a big, loyal following.
A series that is progressive means permanent change for the characters. It doesn’t just mean that people die, but that their death permanently affects the main character and their world. There is an overall story arc that takes place over the series. The books, although they can stand on their own, are part of the whole. If you put all Kate books together, you will get a very long cohesive novel. If you put Nevada’s trilogy together, it makes one giant book.
LOTR is a good example of a progressive series. Permanent world-altering things happen. Main characters undergo a significant change. Game of Thrones is a progressive series. Deep changes take place and they can’t be undone.
A progressive series is harder to write. On a purely technical side, the author must keep track of continuity. But the real difficulty lies in a consistent character development, and it’s easy to screw that up by having the character face greater and greater enemies and giving the character bigger and bigger powers in an attempt to one-up the previous books. Occasionally authors fail to create a compelling character arc. The character starts off strong, and the first book blows everyone out of the water, but there is no build or evolution in the sequels, and the second book is okay, and by the third book fans of the series are telling you to not read that one and just stop at two.
Progressive series also presents a barrier to the reader of having to read from the first book to get the complete story. It means a bigger investment of time and money; however, when done right, it offers big payoff. The readers get to watch the characters develop and they form a deeper connection to them. They know that when bad things happen, they could have permanent consequences, and it makes for a gripping read. Reading the next book is almost like catching up with old friends.
Progressing series mimics life, because we change as we grow older. As a friend of mine once put it, “Reading Author A books is like eating eclairs. You can’t eat more than two in a row. But when Author B releases a book, it’s an event.” Author A wrote popular episodic books. Author B wrote a progressive series.
KD was conceived as an episodic series, but in the third book, we went with something personal for Kate, because the reactions to Bran’s death in Magic Burns taught us that if we hit something personal, we’ll get a big response. So we went with Derek being injured, and once we wrote the book, there was a permanent change in Kate and Curran’s relationship and exposure of Kate’s true magic.
That wasn’t a genie we could put back into the bottle. We could have, but returning Kate and Curran to the status quo and sweeping her magic under the rug would be sending a signal to the readers that nothing in the series had long-term consequences. It’s one thing to write an episodic series; it’s another to wave the progression of the characters in front of the audience and then take it back.
It’s the same reason why we canned an amnesia plot at one point in the series. The readers had invested in the relationship and throwing amnesia into it would be just jerking their chain for no reason. A lot of people really like Kate and Curran as a couple now, forgetting sometimes that they started as a paranoid, borderline-crazy merc with no friends and a cold arrogant ass of a Beast Lord who thought all humans wanted to murder his people and had a seriously stunted emotional development.
One of the reasons why Magic Claims ended up being so long is due to character progression and internal character arcs for both Kate and Curran. Fundamental changes had to take place and for them to occur, we had to show the emotion that precipitated it. While still keeping the entire HEA environment in mind.
Hidden Legacy is a progressive series. The characters undergo permanent change. It’s even more apparent with Hidden Legacy, because the success of these books is riding in a larger part on character development. That brings us to the other drawback of the progressive series. For the story arc to work, we have to start at the lowest point of character development, at a place where the readers connect with the characters (hopefully) but they also see large issues.
Nevada, who is a likeable, selfless, competent young woman, still lives with her parents, has been hiding her magic and not really practicing it because it’s easier, and has strong preconceived notions about how society works, not all of which are accurate. On other hand, we have Mad Rogan, a war hero who may or may not be a psychopath, who has all these resources and is seemingly doing nothing with them and whose moral code is shrouded in mystery. Over the course of the trilogy, these characters grow and change. Nevada and Rogan of Wildfire are not Nevada and Rogan of Burn For Me, and that’s what makes it fun. The audience will see these characters grow and evolve, and hopefully enjoy the process.
When readers commit to a progressive series, the later books in the series sometimes seem better than the earlier ones. The audience had the front seat to the entirety of the ride, witnessed all the changes, and saw the characters become the people worthy of friendship and loyalty.
Moderator R says
Yes, but upon insistent request from the majority, we are not doing “First” comments outside of free serials 🙂
Tasha A says
This makes total sense and I agree… but i’m still sooo impressed by the person to comment first! hahaha
It’s the only time I’ve come on here in years and seen no comments. I’ll take it. 😉
Also, I absolutely love this explanation because I mix up both types on purpose.
The way I think of the two types is with an episodic series (although that sounds like an oxymoron), I can decide based on one book whether or not you want to continue. With a progressive series, reading the first book may give a flavor of the author’s writing, but, unless that completely turns me off, I usually go at least three books in before deciding. Both can be fun, but the investment and (as you said) payoff can differ.
This explains why I can binge read some authors and not others. I enjoy both, but will re-read the progressions. I have learned that if the characters begin progressing, then stop and we do the same thing over and over, I get frustrated. All that promise, wasted!
BTW, listening to the GA Magic Bites and LOVING it!
Thank you for summing it up! <3 It makes sense why sometimes different books feel good to read at different times!
Interesting as usual and apparently this was originally posted before I became a regular part of the BDH. I don’t remember it at all.
I pretty honestly didn’t much like either Kate or Curran in the first book. They were annoying brats I wanted to just slap, heh. But the story and world building was great so I went on to the next. I really enjoyed watching them both change through the series. Had they not done so, I doubt I would have continued past maybe the third book. I have now discovered a name for why I don’t much care for some series. Episodic! I always knew the characters just lost my interest tho.
Interesting that you mention Stephanie Plum because I lost interest in that series after about book six because it became increasingly annoying that the main character specifically never seemed to learn from her mistakes or grow up.
I held out a bit longer than you — I think I stayed into the early teens — but I dropped it because it was a constant will she end up with Guy 1 or Guy 2 and never making a decision. It seemed like Lulu progressed a bit in the books but Stephanie didn’t.
Gaëlle from France says
Same. I really liked the characters at first, especially Ranger, but after eight or nine books, I totally lost interest, for the reasons you said.
Thanks for this! Really explains a lot , especially going in thinking you were writing episodic then committing to write a progressive series. I can think of other authors who’ve done that as well.
This post somehow escaped my attention the first time around, or maybe it’s just escaped my memory. Thanks for the insights. In my younger days, I liked plenty of episodic stories. Nowadays if it’s not progressive, my attention span is very short.
Many children’s books are episodic, then. Think of Nancy Drew. That’s one of the reasons that Percy Jackson and Harry Potter hit so hard.
An author who decides to write an episodic series, however, must be very careful to avoid mixing in partial elements of progression, because that can spell disaster.
In my opinion, the old Perry Mason novels are a perfect example of the episodic series done right: they were basically “the case files of Perry Mason” so the author could write dozens of them and never really change anything about the main characters. The secretary has a crush on her boss and it never gets resolved, but that’s okay. The books are numbered but otherwise have very little in them to indicate passage of time and change. A reader can pick up any one of them in any order and read it as a stand-alone.
On the other hand, the Stephanie Plum novels are a perfect example of the episodic series with things that “should” be elements of progression mixed in, to the series detriment. The author added in some events that do cause permanent changes over time in Stephanie’s situation and thus create a partial character development arc. At the same time, she also introduced some inherently unstable character conflicts that really require permanent resolution – which never happens.
So Grandma’s seemingly indestructible ancient Buick survives without a scratch through an endless series of accidents that would destroy a battle tank. That is a running joke that can appear in every book without too much issue.
However, through books that clearly span several years with other people’s situations changing around Stephanie, she remains permanently caught in what should be a very temporary love triangle. She is involved emotionally and occasionally sexually with both Joe and Ranger. The two men know each other, both want to be in an exclusive relationship with her and both basically demand that she choose between them — and over a dozen books and multiple years, she dithers in every book and never decides. That stasis grated on me to the point that I quit reading the series. (And I have seen similar comments from other former readers.)
Terrie C says
“Occasionally authors fail to create a compelling character arc.” – Definately Not KD
“however, when done right, it offers big payoff.” – as an example see KD series
I like to read books where the characters change and grow, which is why I love the KD series so much and have read it multiple times. It is one gigantic novel with characters I adore. Even the side characters have an impact. RIP to the character that died by Dragon fire – I still miss you. (I didn’t name the character because I don’t want to spoil it)
Mary Matthesen says
Thank you for posting this again!
Debra Hoffmaster says
Thank you for explaining why your books are so much more satisfying for me
Mary Cruickshank-Peed says
This is a really excellent point. I hadn’t thought of it before in these terms. I read a lot of Stephanie Plum novels when I first discovered them, but after a while I was like “take a martial arts class for God’s sake!” They’re fun stories, but I wanted her to learn from living… so I think I stopped about 10 books ago.
With Kate, on the other hand, some of her learning has been HARD, and some of her and Curran’s growing has been difficult for me to read because I *like* them as people and seeing them suffer and seeing their relationship go through hard times… that hurts (which means it’s good writing.) (It also means I’ll go back and reread a series because I like ‘visiting’ with the characters.)
Thank you for this post! As a librarian with no formal training in literature (O_O) I used to refer to series like Spenser and Stephanie Plum as “Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew grown up” 😉
It got the job done, but now I know the proper terminology. Your posts are always informative as well as entertaining, and I appreciate it!
Thank you!! That explains so much with the various series by various people. I keep thinking Plum will be progressive just a little but she reverts in the next book. And I reread Hidden Legacy frequently.
Carla Rairdon says
Whoa… That explains something I never really understood before about why I love 2 books in a series then have diminished enthusiasm for it because they start seeming “cookie cutter” and why I adore the series you write. Thank you for breaking that down!
I think that you’ve nailed why some tv shows piss me off. They want the emotional impact of a seismic shift, but they don’t want to commit to the change. As a result, things revert back to the status quo within a couple of episodes like nothing happened. It makes it seem like nothing matters.
And don’t get me started on some shows refusing to let relationships move past the “will they/ won’t they” stage (I’m looking at you Smallville. One of the writers legit said that he found writing stable relationships boring). Grrr
Robyn A. says
That explains a lot to me about the books I like. LOTR is one of my favorite series and now I understand part of the reason why. All of my favorite series, including all of HA series, are progressive. I do like an episodic book here and there.
I realize now that a long series I read but could never finish the last few books was partly because it was more episodic than progressive.
I will say that some of my favorite episodic series are the one that change cast between books and only have a couple characters in common. A lot of romance series do this. Also mystery books like Agatha Christy, this allows each book to have its own arch without feeling too static.
Yes, that is a technique that will keep my attention far longer than when all the characters remain the same with no growth.
Patricia Schlorke says
Very interesting. Like the others now I know why some books are boring after a while and some I keep coming back to over and over.
I vastly prefer progressive series, where you can see the characters develop. I like Hidden Legacy series the best, was sad to see it end.
I am assuming Mod R is your continuity reader. SO important!
Is the roof done, and are you happy with it? Are you able to get cell tower signals? Between my trees (big) and the metal roof on the house across the street I can only get signals from 1 provider. Lucky for me they are good!
I really enjoy these peeks into your writing!
Moderator R says
The Hidden Legacy series was traditionally published, the editors and continuity readers were all Avon 🙂
“The character starts off strong, and the first book blows everyone out of the water, but there is no build or evolution in the sequels, and the second book is okay, and by the third book fans of the series are telling you to not read that one and just stop at two.”
I know it was a classic, but this was my reaction to the Dune series. First book was amazing. Following books went down hill.
Also, one of the things I love about the Hidden Legacy series, is that you can tell the siblings are getting older. They are the same people, but you can tell they are growing up.
And sometime a continuing story with a great premise falls of the rails and becomes a morass of sex that is a dead bore repetitive, has little to do with the original and is now episodic sexcapades in stead an on going story
Anita, is that you?! 😂
I still remember how I felt when Aunt B was killed off — I realized, whoa, this is not just an interesting fantasy this is truly an ongoing story. Things would never be the same.
Rorie Solberg says
I am still anxious and then incredibly sad when I re-read and Aunt B dies. It also lets you know that you really couldn’t consider anyone “safe” with the exception of Kate and Curran.
Sherri Pelzel says
Having just re-read the Kate books, I still felt gutted when I read of Aunt B’s sacrifice, and I knew it was coming. I don’t know what I’d do if either Kate or Curran were no longer “safe.”
Rorie Solberg says
This is a great post, and I thank you for bringing it back as I missed it the first time. I love how your series evolve. It is also the reason we are all so committed to the characters–we watch them grow and get really attached. As I read the post, I realized that I definitely gravitate toward series that are progressive, unless the author is bad at the development (far too slow or far too fast, but usually the former with lots of repetition about why the character can’t do x or y, etc.). It is a delicate balance. I think it is also why I fell out of love with reading mysteries. The episodic nature started to bore me. I knew the formula the writer was using, and just like with the mystery TV series in that small town, you wondered why anyone would hang out with the woman when there was invariably going to be a murder near her even though she wasn’t a law enforcement officer or a detective.
“you wondered why anyone would hang out with the woman when there was invariably going to be a murder near her even though she wasn’t a law enforcement officer or a detective.”
this exactly is why i cant do cozy mysteries!!!
.303 bookworm says
There was a book Titania? Maybe? Set on a cruise liner in space, lots of famous detectives onboard including a little old lady who was originally famous for solving gruesome murders but who now wore a special helmet to block her brainwaves – she apparently was discovered to have some psychic power that triggered murderous impulses. I laughed so hard at this.
There is kind of a third version where authors try to mix the two. I still read the books Nora Roberts reads as J.D. Robb because they’re weighted more toward episodic but there is some character growth — she just stretches it out across a lot of books. But at least there’s some growth, so I’ve stuck with it.
However, I don’t read her trilogies anymore. They feel too formulaic. She had 3 main characters, each book in the arc focused on one of the characters, the third book focusing on the most “screwed up” of the characters. The story progressed through the 3 books until the trilogy grand finale. You could interchange any of the trilogies and nothing much was different.
Really agree with you about the “In Death” series. I have been not reading her trilogies as much. Her stand alone in the spring I sometimes buy or wait for the library to get it.
Kylie in Australia says
Still read In death too, and realise it is episodic, but the characters do have personal growth.
And for a quick read sometimes i jump back into Nora Roberts Language of Love (early Silhouette books) but the only trilogy I go back to is the Chesapeake Bay one (but its 4 books)
Very informative post. I tend to prefer progressive stories but episodic done well can be very entertaining. What I really love are tv series that have a season arc with some standalone episodes sprinkled in. Buffy was great at this.
I like when a progressive series I am reading appears at first to be episodic. I find it really cool when I realize a little side note from an earlier book has turned into a major thread or character. I don’t like books that never resolve and leave you hanging till the next book and the next etc. one of the many things I love about your books is that they end. They are a complete story. It’s just that story impacts the events of the future
Took a vacation day today and what do I see…..multiple posts from IA. YEAH!!!
Thanks for this explanation. This explains why with some other authors that I have read their trilogies that the second book is always my least favorite.
Apparently I much prefer the progressive series.
I became very interested and did a lot of reading about ‘second’ books, after seeing “The Empire Strikes Back”. It blew me away; at the time, it was the best 2nd movie I’d ever seen, and I was amazed that it could end, not in triumph, but on a down note.
The second installment seems to be hard to write, in a different way than the series opener.
House DeMille says
I guess the reason I like detective stories so much is that they are episodic – you can pick one up every so often and it’s not a huge commitment. Each book there’s a new cast of characters and a new mystery to solve. Golden Age mystery authors like Ngaio Marsh do this very well. P.D. James, the modern equivalent, is fantastic also.
I discovered Ngaio Marsh a couple of years ago, and when she stopped aging Alleyn and wife-who’s-name-I’m-brain-farting-on-now but kept aging their kid, it was one of the funniest things ever. All of a sudden their kid is in his 20’s and Alleyn is still 40.
Around the time I stumbled on to Innkeeper (in serial form), I was also reading a certain self-published author who has 30+ books that are military-romantic-suspense. She tells you up-front, the books do have a chronological connection, but each ends with it’s own HEA. She has bypassed the major problem that a thoughtful reader has with episodic books, by making the main character of each book part of a group of friends/coworkers. It’s an almost infinite variation on the same plot, making it a cozy, easy read, but enough difference in the characters to keep the reader moving through the series.
Innkeeper was my introduction to the BDH, followed by in this order, Edge, KD, Hidden Legacy, Kinsmen. I caught to the ‘current books’ by end of 2021; I was in grad school at the time, so I had to actually put down the pleasure reading and study.
There are a couple of episodic writers I read just because I know what I’ll get, and there may be variations in where the story is set. It’s comfort reading, and they are not ‘must buys’ like IA or Toby Daye.
Sherri Pelzel says
I just had the joy of reading the Kate Daniels series for the second time. I blew through them so fast the first go round that this time they seemed brand new. I enjoyed them more, I think, because I did have the entire arc in mind and could immerse myself more fully in the nuances of the stories. I laughed and cried more this trip and look forward to visiting these “old friends” once again.
Thanks for explaining the writing styles. Gives me food for thought about series that I have drifted away from.
Robin Mangum says
I just finished the Graphic Audio of Magic Bites. I looked forward to hearing the different characters, I didn’t expect to gain more knowledge and awareness of the characters and situations. But that’s what occurred. I’ve read the entire series 2 or 3 times and listened to the old audiobooks at least 3 times. I understand the nuances and influence of the first interactions for the first time.
I’ve had 2 strokes, both debilitating and had to relearn reading by listening and rereading books I had read in the past. I’m a BIG bookworm literally and figuratively.
I started the IA books with Clean Sweep and progressed through all of the different series offered. I love each and every one.
Thank you so much for doing the GA of Magic Bites it has really helped my understanding of KD’s world!!!
Thank you for that explanation!!
I have been frustrated with a few series where I thought they started out strong, but then fell apart, for me at least. I HATE watching characters repeat the same mistakes over and over. I could never understand why the author would not have the character learn from previous stories and grow. Now I know! I don’t think I will like those books any better, but now I can recognize and name my preference, and use that to help me find stories more aligned to my particular tastes.
Debra L. says
Not an entirely related note, but I do think that there is also the progression of the author’s experience to consider. Which can go a few ways. Experience in general just helps in any skillset/application with doing better as it accumulates. It just makes sense for any author, regardless of the type of book they write, to natually improve their craft over time. That’s not to disagree with the post, but just also note the fact that a writer improving their writing is understandable too.
On the other hand, an author who is commerically well established may end up eschewing necessary editorial direction and altering the overall quality of their work to its detriment. Obviously not going to publicly drag anyone but it definitely happens.
Overall I’ve been super happy with everything House Andrews has put out and I’m glad that it’s been so much fun to buy every single thing that’s been written lol. Because it is worthwhile and the quality remains fantastic throughout.
Agree on the disappointment when an author gets so big they eschew any editing. I started reading an author in the 70s and had stopped by the 90s. Books are still written, but they are so bloated I can’t get through one. I’ve tried periodically but I’m impatient with the repetition within the book.
Yeah, I loved Karen Chance til her characters got dragged into the time travel stuff, which bloated her books, and I could barely make it halfway thru stories before I finally had to give up.I thought the new Lia book would be better since no time travel, but it was disappointingly bloated too.
I am so incredibly grateful you didn’t do an amnesia story. That and time travel* are the two surest ways to make me drop an author and I love your books so much. The only times I have even read through amnesia stories are when I’m very many books into a series and REALLY enjoy them. I have only seen it done well once, and in that case the author managed, in a first person POV, to have the narrator recover without the reader knowing.
I’d also like to add that your writing did get much better during the first four or so KD books. The story was always there, but the specific type of humor that is the reason I keep reading is based on human things. Nevada takes the painkillers that give her a desire to spin to the right. Kate is certain if she were to jam something sharp into her hurt knee, it would fix it. You guys got better at this. And you already know you got better at editing so as to not leave big plot holes 😉.
*time travel that is the entire point of the series (Dr. Who, The Chronicles of St. Mary’s) is one thing. Time-travel for one book or even one story arc is something completely different and I’ve never seen work well.
Thank you for taking the time to really dive deep into the answer to this question! Now I know why there are certain series that I have stopped reading and been really frustrated with. I am much more drawn to a progressive story! I do enjoy the Stephanie Plum series but I now realize it is because I go in not expecting any major character change/development and apparently 1 such series is my limit:) I have found that during times of great stress I crave something episodic to sooth me and reassure me that all will be OK one day.
I always learn so much in reading your blog. Thanks for this and the Gullah explanation. I knew some it but not all.
This explains why I find many cozy mysteries unsatisfying. I like my characters to grow and change. I did read my share of Nancy Drew mysteries as a kid, but I didn’t have access to other books. I also read biographies of women-especially queens.
I beta read a suspense series and have pushed the author to show growth in the main character. I think it is working too.
I remember this article and enjoyed it as much this second time as I did the first!
Episodic novels are good “in-between” books, like if you’ve just finished another (probably progressive ) series and want to take a quick break before starting another. The old Harlequin romance books, while not part of a series per se, were pretty formulaic and it was never surprising how it would turn out (billionaire guy misjudges poor gal, treats her badly, regrets it, grovels a little bit (never enough) and then they live happily ever after). That can be comforting at times, but it does get boring pretty quickly.
Thanks for repeating the explanation!
Your books are the Golden Standard for progressive series IMHO. It’s been hard to find other authors that hit anywhere close to the satisfaction that I get when reading them (yes, over and over and over again – BDH will back me on this I know).
However, I find episodic books to be like comfort food and I set my expectations accordingly so I’m not disappointed.
Yes and no. You left something out. As you’ve written more, you’ve become better writers. You were excellent at the start of your writing career and you’ve gotten better and better through hard work, perseverance and uncompromising determination to do excellent work. So yes, your later books are in fact better than your earlier ones. As a reader I’ve not only witnessed the development of your characters, I’ve witnessed the development of two of my favourite authors.
I had a book recommended that lost me right in the middle because the first half developed the characters and the plot, which were pretty good. Then the main character’s best friend from childhood was killed dramatically and tragically. The very next chapter was a total reset and everyone was back to adventuring without repercussions. I lost interest within 10 pages.
When my friend asked whether I liked it I said, “this is not a book. It is a video game in writing. All action. No character development.” Since then, that has been added to my assessment of books, tv, movies, etc. and I see it a lot. At least with an actual video game you get to participate.
I get now why I can re-read KD or HL so many times and still enjoy it so much. Thanks for clarifying the difference between episodic and progressive stories.
Excellent explanation. And the eclair is perfect. Some series, I get to the point where the author inserts a phrase used in EVERY BOOK and I want to throw it across the room. Because I want the AUTHOR to progress as well and be able to produce deeper work.
Maria Schneider says
Invaluable breakdown of episodic versus progressive. I mean, I know the difference as a reader and writer, but never analyzed or laid it out. I do read episodic, but prefer progressive. I tend to read maybe two episode volumes, but lose interest. The cozy genre is more often episodic I think. I read and write in cozy and urban fantasy, but I think episodic is more difficult because it’s harder to keep it interesting. And yet, it’s a very comforting read.
Thanks for the very clear breakdown and discussion of how your own books fit.
One thing I really love about IA series is that the relationships featured are progressive as well. There are a lot of series where the main character’s development arc is progressive but romantic relationships are episodic. I love that IA characters find love and then continue to grow and change together.
“We are not the same persons this year as last; nor are those we love. It is a happy chance if we, changing, continue to love a changed person.”
― W. Somerset Maugham
Mary Terry says
This was so helpful to explain why I love KD, HL, and also my general reading patterns – why I can only read so 2-3 in a row of a series I enjoy.
to be fair, I read book 8 of KD first ( didn’t know there was more). There was so much explanation of past events in that book that I got all the way through without to much confusion. It made a lot more sense the second time I read it, after books 1-7.😂
Thanks for bringing this back! It helps explains why I felt so dissatisfied with series that I used to love.
I had bought most of Robert Parker’s Spencer series. I no longer remember the stories but I do recall hoping that one day he would succeed in changing or overcoming his problem. After a while, I gave up…. I also bought every Stephanie Plum books. I started struggling to finish book 13. I was soooo tired of Stephanie’s incompetence in her job, so tired of grandma’s shenanigans, her partner’s, her torn between 2 guys over and over. Her stories, the characters were so predictable. I struggled with book 14-16. I bought book 17 and just had absolutely no desire to read it… I’ve came to love lots of book series in the beginning. By book 6, I’m frustrated that it’s the same ole, same ole thing, for each book in the series. I dropped the author from my To Buy list…. I’m just so very grateful that Kate Daniels, Hidden Legacy, Innkeeper series are not episodic but progressive!