Rakers 6 – The Open Ending

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There’s a certain advantage to setting out when you want a story to conclude – namely, you know the space you have to tell it. The number of side plots you can include. The number of characters and where they’re going to go. So on and so forth.

There are, of course, disadvantages. Maybe your characters don’t want to go where you need them to be, and suddenly you’re finding convoluted reasons to get them around so your trilogy doesn’t become a seven book saga. Or you’re realizing the universe you’ve created is so much more than you thought it was, and your five-book series ought to be an endless march through your sandbox.

One of the things that I don’t see mentioned as often is writer exhaustion – namely, you’re going to get tired of writing in the same setting all the time. Meaning it’s going to take you longer between books, and it’ll be harder to work up the energy to start the next one. People like new, shiny things and writers are no different.

Rakers is a loose way of playing with the series type – the setting is constructed as such to produce side stories. It’s a world teeming with possibilities and narratives ripe for construction. I have a planned central arc, sure, but there could be plenty of other stories alongside that one. That being said, if I get distracted by something new, the core events are ready to be described with a three-book set. It should still be a lot of fun, and have a definitive ending, without closing off the door to future stories.

As for how I’m putting that together, what I’m doing is putting a lot of effort into a setting that generates story ideas. What does that entail? It means creating organizations or societies, parts of your world that naturally drive plots. Take, for example, James Bond. The setting that produces all of these movies and stories is, essentially, “a British secret agent with a license to kill and a limitless budget”. It doesn’t take a lot of abstract thought to come up with a scenario that falls in that setting and that would be engaging to see through to a conclusion. Same thing with Star Wars, which operates under something like “Good and evil manifest as a power harnessed by warring factions in a future society”. Not too hard to think up new tales in that kind of universe.

I don’t want to spoil Rakers, but it’s designed with something similar in mind. A base from which any number of entertaining tales can spawn.

Is there a downside to this sort of thing? Potentially. As we can see with the litany of sequels pestering book shelves and movie theaters these days, there’s always a chance that the setting will become stale. If nothing ever seems to change, then readers will eventually get bored, prompting either a reset (like the comic book companies periodically do, or what’s happened with Star Trek) or a sideways shift, where the setting adjusts slightly but the players are different (like when Bond changes actors, or horror movies that keep the same plot idea but with new casts).

But the best thing about being a creative is that you’re not stuck. When you want to play in another world, you’re free to go do it.

It’s a pretty nice perk.