What makes a series?

Lately, I’ve heard a lot of discussion of failed attempts to place multiple works into the same world. My favourite is Image Comics and their constant token mentions of Youngblood. As though dropping a term or name is enough to establish that this is a fully fleshed-out world.

It made me think, though. In literature, there are a couple of genres that tend to produce/contain series, Fantasy and Romance. They both go about it very differently.

In Fantasy (and sci-fi as well), books in a series often tell an overarching story. Harry Potter, for example, follows the story of the fight against Voldemort. They also feature the same characters and the same world.

This last is nearly always a given, thanks to the previous two. It’s not often that you see a change in setting in a Fantasy series that has the same main characters and an epic quest.

Romance series do a few of the same things. Sometimes a series will follow the same characters, often adding new ones so that new or rekindled love can feature multiple times without having to constantly threaten or break up the main couple. Or they will all have similar themes–in my opinion, this is more of an anthology than a series, but I could be wrong. Other times, a Romance is a series merely because every story takes place in the same world, but with different characters every time.

Unfortunately, one of the ways that I have all too often seen a Romance writer do a series is by using the same setting and new characters, while still mentioning the previous ones.

Maybe I read this genre for entirely the wrong reasons, but I don’t need proof of a happy ending in the next book. I believed you the first time, I’m sure they’re happy.

My problem with this is that it’s such a token. Like the writer thinks she is throwing me a bone. “Hey look you know these two!” Followed by a knowing wink. Yuck.

It could just be presentation, but it happens in other genres too. It’s something that George Lucas did with the Star Wars prequels that annoyed everyone who was a fan of the original films. Token name drops and cameos.

I didn’t really have a point with this, it was just an observation.

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