This post, just like “Why Time Travel Romances Wouldn’t Work Outside Romance Novels“, first appeared on a blog now long gone, as part of the book launch tour for the vampire time travel romance novel, Bannockburn Binding. -t.
I have a love/hate relationship with television series. I don’t watch live television because the advertisements and constant interruptions drive me so totally insane, I can’t stand it. So usually, friends tell me about a killer new series and I’ll start watching once the show has built up a season or two of episodes. Then I can watch whole seasons at a time, with no Christmas hiatus breaks, or sitting around all week for the second part of two-parter episodes, and dumb stuff like that. And no ads.
I get to catch up with some stunning drama this way. But again, I get driven crazy by writers and producers who have learned a thing or two over the last few decades of television drama. I love and adore watching couples fall in love on these shows. But the writers will keep those couples apart forever.
One of the biggest lessons Hollywood learned was watching Moonlighting tank big time once Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd did the deed.
Nowadays, writers will keep potential romances simmering for years, while viewers gnash their teeth in frustration. The writers will dangle little moments and inch the romance along at turtle speed. Castle is one example, although the series is only in year four. But the two lead characters, Castle and Beckett, are circling around each other, getting closer and closer all the time. Tony and Ziva in NCIS is another – their romance has been creeping along at glacial speed for six years now, and viewers are still waiting for one decent kiss that isn’t a fake undercover thing. (On the series’ official website, one viewer stated that if Tony and Ziva didn’t kiss in Season 10, she wasn’t going to watch the show anymore.)
I was kvetching to my husband about this phenomenon not that long ago. It opened up into a big…er… “discussion” about what a romance really was — which prompted me to start a new series on my blog. But that’s a side-issue. The discussion went around and around in circles, which left me somewhat frustrated…just the way most romances in television series leave me. I ended up throwing up my hands and stating that it would be great if these fabulous TV series would just resolve the romances, then get right on with another romance next week, while all the great storylines continued on, as usual.
I would give anything to be able to say that the light bulb that went off over my head was what prompted me to write Bannockburn Binding. But the truth is, an early form of Bannockburn was written a few years ago, and I already knew exactly what I wanted to do with the series, Beloved Bloody Time, well before the TV series discussion turned the light on for me.
The TV series thing is just a perfect metaphor for what I’m doing with Beloved Bloody Time.
Television series do some things very well indeed. In particular, they tell very long, complicated and involved on-going storylines, and unravel in-depth character developments over the course of several seasons, via some very intense story-telling. Because it’s television drama, it’s all showing, and not telling, so the character stuff is delivered via weekly doses of suspense, action, mystery, and more. It’s some of the best story-telling out there, and I include novels in that statement. You just can’t cover the sort of long-winded epic dramas in a single novel that long-term television series can. It’s not to say that novels are weaker or worse. It’s just a limitation of their form.
Novel series try to capture the same effect as television series — on-going, complicated storylines. But usually, those series are short lived. The fashion, these days, is for trilogies. If a series is any longer than that, then the storylines inside the series tend to be stand-alone, and only the characters and their personal travails pass on from book to book.
The other fashion is to try to make each book as stand-alone as possible, so that the reader can start with any of the books in the series, with no need to catch up with storylines from before.
I won’t do any of that with Beloved Bloody Time. I’m going for television serial-style story-telling, with one glaring exception: Each book in the series is a complete, resolved romance with a happy-ever-after or happy-for-now ending.
Each book, however, is short, with maximized story-telling. There’s no attempt to make the stories stand alone (there isn’t room). The story-lines are on-going, with cliff-hangers at the end of each book. Readers will need to keep up with the series to follow along, just like with television series.
It will make for long and involved story-telling, with complex storylines and a cast of hundreds, just like on television.
Only, you don’t have to wait six years to see the first kiss.
TV series have come a long way since this post. They’re the sort of long, involved, complex stories I just love sinking into, and often, the romance is told in a sensible and realistic way, instead of teasing for six years.
Bannockburn Binding DID start a long, involved series that featured a cast of thousands (not quite all of them named). There are some seriously romantic and sexy times scattered through all seven books, too. The series is Beloved Bloody Time, and out of curiosity, I checked when the first kiss happens: Page 19. 🙂
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