Seriously? Please don’t write a series… romantically

Okay this is a little bit of a rant but I am genuinely interested in opinions given my own, er, rather extreme view.

I am a bit dismayed at the number of new WIPS that claim to be “book one of five” or some such. Tbh, I just feel this is such an unrealistic goal for a beginning writer. They literally never get finished. I mean hey, we all know most WIPS don’t get finished, but the ones that advertised a series? Even a higher percentage. Can we please tell a story from start to finish in one setting? I mean, I’m all about a good cliffhanger but when the leap between cliffhanger and resolution is years in the making? I just don’t care anymore. Especially when I’m ultimately met with yet another two-year cliffhanger after book two. Waiting for book three. For years. Really throws a spanner in the works relative to the narrative.

Are there exceptions? Of course. Wayhaven obviously stands out (although my enthusiasm has waned from 10 to 4), I hold out a lot of faith for the golden rose. I adore jolly good and evergreen series, but these are one in a million.

Bottom line, when I see a new WIP claiming to be book one of five (or three or insert your favorite number) it’s an immediate skip. Just not gonna do it. Why? I’m glad you asked.

It’s because I will never get to a good part. Literally. I’m here for the romance and the character development and guess what… if that doesn’t take me beyond childhood, give me a meaningful look at the scope of the plot, or allow me any meaningful actions with a potential RO, I simply do not care. I feel like a lot of writers are writing novel-length prologues, and this is just not it, it’s a :poop: pile of no. Do I love me a good prologue? I do! Do I I give a crap if romances appear within the first three chapters? Yup. And if you don’t give it to me, I’m done. Wanna slow-burn me through three books? Nope. Sorry, I’m not 12 and don’t have time for this jr high crap. Give me a kiss (or more, please) or go home. I just, why do all the romance narratives act like I’m a clumsy six year-old? Ffs. Somebody write me a grown-up…. I’m literally begging.

83 Likes

While I do agree with you that it’s extremely unrealistic for a new writer to attempt tackling a series they want to write, the best thing they could do in this case to turn that series into a standalone which is an easier task. I think maybe 75% to 90% of the new WIPs that’s coming out on this forum or on itchio, they never get past the prologue or the first couple of short chapters before for whatever reason, it’s dropped and forgotten about while the rest never gets a demo at all, and I’m being generous in my estimation.

My biggest pet peeve with the new WIPs that the writers are constantly putting them up but it’s so bare boned that you can’t form an proper opinion and you have to wait a long time for them to put up an update where you can really sink your teeth into.

You might want to try Heart’s Choice games as it’s catered to only adults as it has adult content if you haven’t tried them yet.

26 Likes

We are of similar minds. I just want writers to be realistic (in the hopes of receiving one completed stand-alone story compared to 90000 unfinished WIPS that are part one of four). Plus, as a reader, I actually want to read the entire character arc in one setting, rather than waiting until I’m 97 years old to read the climax. Just… give me an experience, not a taste. A taste is for the the prologue, not the entire book.

40 Likes

If I were to use an good example of what new writers should do when it comes to doing a series, I’d use the Zombie Exodus: Safe Haven. Each part is treated as a standalone but the writer treats it as a series which I feel has been done brilliantly this far. Otherwise, they risk burning themselves out and dropping the idea

19 Likes

Totally agree. Serials, as opposed to series, absolutely accomplish this if done well. I think this is why I like sordwin so much. It is not a serial, but kind of treats your choices like a serial would. It’s expansive and evolving instead of “welp, you made this one choice one time so now your screwed”

17 Likes

I believe @MadAdam was pleading for a different type of story from the “expected” YA type of romance.



@MadAdam – There are more veteran writers here than you think. It is true that many WiPs are made involving beginner writers and game makers, yet a good many are not.

I’m not running excuses, but the full production of a CS game is a lot for one person development teams.

Nevertheless, most of those that are seriously making “series” games do have experience of some nature or another and most are trying to apply that experience in a new medium.

You want an author to be realistic, but even fully supported authors contracted by CoG and HC have no way of being so, without getting into the actual making of a CS game.

I think it is unrealistic to demand this out of the gate, even of veteran writers with multiple published works, especially for those who are one person teams.

It is more realistic to support the writer by providing them your honest feedback … even if they are not able to understand or hear what you are trying to tell them.

WiP threads and the HG beta proccess only works as well as the writer using them are. That is a fact for the way that HG is set up, a very DIY process that is not going to hold the hand of anyone.

My own project has taken years to get to the point it is at. Long-COVID and all of life’s shit has happened, but that isn’t it all.

It has taken me a while to develop as a writer to get to this point too. Not only that, but I had to develop as an editor, and also an artist.

Perhaps you won’t read my public beta test copy … I invite every person in this community to read it when it is released into the wild, because the more feedback I get, the better I hope to make the game in the long run.

But, from your declaration above, you are going to skip my game. I feel you may be missing another lightning in a bottle title, but I do respect your agency to pick and chose the projects you support.

On the other hand, as I slowly write this, you say you like serials, so maybe you will read it after all.

As a reader, I try as many WiP demos as I can because I learn from so many of them. I don’t expect any of them to be completed now, or if they get close, I expect many will go to Twine or Ink or some other engine. I still read them though.

I have experienced some good writing because I read projects the way I do, and I have learned from many writers doing this.

I know many people, especially as they age, don’t have reading time, or they don’t have speed reading skills. For many people, reading/testing WiP demos might be a bad investment of time. Perhaps they would be better served looking at the demos for completed works and sticking to those stories that make it to the publication phase.

Even with these, sometimes additional parts will not be completed or take years to make.

That’s the case for all gaming, and I dare even say, a lot of mass market novels too.

40 Likes

Having seen tons of WIPs fail ever since I joined these forums, I would say this. Plenty of these writers might have had sincere intentions to write a series. But they come to the forums, set up a WIP thread, only to receive comments in the single digits. When that happens, it’s easy to get demoralized and quit. Sometimes, they don’t know if an idea would be well received, and if the reception they get isn’t positive, well… it would seem sensible to let go.

Is there any statistical evidence for this? (I’m asking sincerely).

26 Likes

So, I really don’t want to sound rude but this entire thing reads like how a bratty child talks. You actually mention some stuff that is true but with how you worded it all, it felt like all the constructive criticism was kinda lost. But sure, maybe the goal was to share an opinion and not do criticism.

8 Likes

Let us keep our posts focused on the content of the posts themselves and not turn the focus to the person posting!

Thank you.

16 Likes

First and foremost, thank you for the kind and thoughtful response @eiwynn. I don’t disagree with you, and appreciate you putting me in my place in a respectful way :wink: I realize I’m not necessarily correct or accurate, but these are real feelings. Ultimately, I want new writers to be successful and there are so many brilliant stories on this platform that never evolve because the sheer scope is SO BIG, it becomes overwhelming. it’s heartbreaking. Personal prob, ik. Anywho, not trying to be negative, genuinely hopeful more writers may start with one book stand-alones, only for the chance I might actually get to read them from start to finish. And for the record, I do read your story (I’m here for Oregon trail vibes :smile:).

17 Likes

Heh. Thank you!

The project I am working on currently is Patchwerks, which is still in pre-beta testing. Part of the reason I am doing things differently with Patchwerks, is because of my experiences with prior WiP threads I made.

And I think that without those experiences, Patchwerks may not be where it is today.

Once I turn my eyes back to Emigre, I will be doing everything a lot differently. The way I am handling Patchwerks, and the experiences I am getting, will help shape Emigre going forward as well.

And I guess, this is another reason I don’t stress much about WiP demos and threads.

Maybe I should do a Writer Support Thread on a topic of this nature in the upcoming months. :slight_smile:

7 Likes

You are right, I just really want to read so many of these WIPS as a finished product it burns, but that’s neither here nor there. Writers are writers and time is time… so what does a voracious reader do!? I guess patience is in order, but I also have to beg writers… please give us a complete and satisfying narrative in one setting. Don’t string us along through multiple books, it is literally less satisfying than reading a complete story. Write a sequel that doesn’t depend on the first book? (Like crème de la crème, or any of HPS brilliance) Great! Write a series where nothing happens until book three…. Well, I’m sorry but this is a Wendy’s, please move forward.

11 Likes

Interesting, for me it’s the opposite.

Not that standalone books are a deal breaker for me (far from it) but the thing with them is that once I finish it, I know I won’t be able to interact with that world or characters anymore. And even though I could just replay it anytime, it isn’t the same as having a completely different book continuing the story (if that makes sense?)

I also think that when a book is part of a series, it can help the characters/relationships development be more fleshed-out (since there would be more time and opportunities for the relationships to develop more organically), and for someone like me who loves slow burn it really makes a difference lol. Proving that it isn’t just indefinitely dragged out without any progress happening, of course.

I don’t mind the wait much, too.

17 Likes

This might be an age thing, because If I am not sure If I will live long enough to see the series finished, I am less interested. I am old and a series of let’s say 5 books, with one book every 3 years would be finished when I am older than 60 so yes I skip series until they are complete.

38 Likes

I remember that years ago, when I was looking into traditional fiction publishing, the thing that was usually requested was ‘a standalone book, with the potential for expansion into a series’.
And I think that is what most new writers should aim for.
Because yeah, I’ve also seen all the WIPs (though a lot of those seems to have moved to twine) that announce themselves as book 1 of X, and the author has already spent two years of it, with only 2-3 chapters to show for it, if even that.
To me, it seems like a much better idea to start with one self-contained gamebook (with potential for expansion), and then see if you’re even actually enthusiastic about continuing that story, when you’re done with that first one, and don’t want to work on a totally different project.
That way, the readers get a full, satisfying experience from the start, and the author don’t shackle themself to what might have been 20+ years of working on the same story.

50 Likes

I applaud your resilience and respect the outlook, but personally if I don’t get some relationship reciprocation early on, I’m done. I’m clearly making a fool of myself, time to move on

3 Likes

I’m curious.
Would it feel different for you to have a series of 4 games of about 250k words each, or litterally the exact same thing, but combined into one game that is 1 million words long?

3 Likes
Too long and rambling...

I pretty much agree with everything you said in your initial post (except for Golden Rose… if there had been a decent male RO, I probably wouldn’t have minded the fact that it was slow and kind of boring, but there wasn’t, so my patience was out the window before I got halfway through it). I will say that I have seen a couple of authors who are planning multiple books and, despite that, I’ve seen enough to go ahead and play them. But waiting five freaking games to get a relationship with your LI? That’s bullshit, to put it bluntly.

By the way, play @CC_Hill’s games. Lemons, The Wedding, the new lawyer game. If there’s anyone who writes intriguing characters and adult romance without dragging shit on until you’re dead, it’s her! In fact, right now, I think she’s the only one who does it.

I take that back–Blood Moon has this, too.

The only condition I will add to this is that if the author can make me care about the characters–and make them complex and real enough that I’m not constantly rolling my eyes at how ridiculous they are–I’m still onboard (although I will bitch and moan about the lack of romance because I want romance, dammit). Oh, and the MC has to be competent or grow into being competent (quickly) or I will be over it. I’m sick of games where the MC is a doormat for the author’s characters, and feeling like I’m trapped in a room with a DM from hell who only wants you there to show how great their characters are while they piss all over the only one you can control.

Preach it.

I know, right? The whole blushing, sputtering, freaking out because your LI looked at you thing is so overdone that it has become grating to me. If you’re going to give me personality stats for my MC, then ffs, let me make a MC who isn’t a tween with their first crush (unless, you know, you’re writing actual tweens, in which case, I get it).

I think one problem is that, in many games, it seems the only drama that can be used is related to the MC and LI acting like complete and utter fuckwits. Instead of letting them act like normal human beings and throwing the kitchen sink at them with danger/horror/daily annoyances, they stress the overwrought BS that makes all the characters look like morons.

Lol. Good luck.

The only HC game I’ve played that actually had good romance in it–and felt like the characters were adults who weren’t forced by the plot to be stupid–was Their Majesties’ Pleasure. I had given up on HC before that game. Now, I want to see more like it.

LOL! I often complain about this with a particular “romance” series. I’ll probably be dead by the time my MC and favorite LI can have a freaking relationship.

As am I. Of late, I see “YA” and head the opposite direction. I’d like adults with brains–not 10-year-olds in 30-year-old bodies. By the time I hit 30, I had changed careers (and left one that was both profitable and secure), bought and paid for my own car, had and “interesting” relationship past, and met the man I married. I wasn’t stuttering and having a heart attack any time someone looked at me sideways. Actually, the only time I ever did that was in 8th grade when the hottest guy in school approached me in the library (and I ran away, lol).

I think it would be a mistake for @MadAdam to skip your game. And I think this is another layer that should be added to deciding whether or not to try a game–do you trust the person writing it? Does the author actually try to get input from people other than a select few? Does the author actually pay attention to valid criticism or suggestions and implement them when they fit (they don’t always, of course).

There are people whose games I will play even if they don’t meet my desire to have romance and deep NPC characterization out of the gate. You’re one of them, as is Aelsa. There are others, but my point is that there are always exceptions… and there should be.

I’m in the same boat as you. I made the mistake of getting invested in one series that won’t be complete for another 15-20 years, and I won’t do it again.

21 Likes

Same, dude. I used to get excited when I saw titles like these… part 1 out of 3… or 5, not so much now, I just skip it, especially if it’s from a new author and they only got like 2 short chapters. Even worse if on top of it they got a bunch of ROs (more than 4) and they weren’t even introduced yet but the author talks a ton about them (btw I’m also fed up of being forced to act like a blushing teenager if I am playing an adult character). I don’t mind if the author announces a sequel later but so soon I know that wip is probably going nowhere. Look, I know it sucks to hear that from a reader and I don’t mean it in a bad way, I’m not trying to shit on ambitious authors but I’ve seen it too many times, hell, even standalone games with 5+ long chapters disappear, what guarantees I have with a series that are just starting? I’m not going through that again with a series that might never happen, no way. I wish authors would just announce their games like a standalone and keep their plans for sequels to themselves until they reach a certain point of development where it’s safe to say the game will probably be published, then, yeah, I’m all up to a sequel.

32 Likes

@Starsmore preach. You get it

@EvilChani are you 100% certain you aren’t a secret love child of my mom? I’m pretty sure we are siblings :joy:

5 Likes