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Long Runner or Short 'N' Sweet:

I wonder what quality of sorties are btter in general, long running stories with no end or stories that definitely have an end?
 
patience, young padawan
That's highly subjective.

Some people enjoy having ongoing series so that they can keep watching their favorite, iconic characters doing new stuff every week, and some prefer a definite end. There are some series that I like that also happen to be Long Runners (Pokémon), and some series that I also like and have a definite end (Darker Than Black). Neither one of them is inherently better than the other.

edited 10th May '11 11:30:21 AM by CrystalGlacia

Great men are forged in fire. It is the privilege of lesser men to light the flame.
 3 Leradny, Tue, 10th May '11 11:59:46 AM from Alameda, CA
Neither one is inherently better than the other.

Quoted for truth.

 5 Ronka 87, Tue, 10th May '11 12:50:41 PM from the mouth of madness.
Maid of Win
Related question: What are the pros and cons of both types of story, from the perspective of writers and readers?

Long-runners have lots of benefits— you can develop characters slowly, showing a maturation and progression. Stories can be grand and epic— you don't have to distill anything. Lots of room for subplots, so lots of things happen in the story. From a writing POV, you don't have to create new characters and a new world every time you write. It'll probably be a steady income.

The downsides: Archive Panic, as plenty of people just won't want to read a series with 20 novels; lots of them have to be read in chronological order, otherwise things get spoiled; things might get drawn out for too long, or sections might exist as filler to pad out the series; if the first few novels were great, the expectation is to stay great— lots of pressure to please fans. You might get bored of writing the same world, but people always ask for more. Juggling continuity and consistency might be an issue. Juggling plot threads might be an issue. If there is no idea for an ending, plots might meander.

Single novel stories: Not a lot of time to get things done, so it'll have to be concise— but that's actually good. No long-term commitment— if the story doesn't work, or you don't like the way it turned out, you don't have to keep writing to finish the series. Chance to explore new worlds and characters, develop new and interesting plots, challenge yourself as a writer. You can tell unique, offbeat stories, which is generally harder in a series.

Mid-point: Longer series with definite ends (ala Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings)— balance of the two, with both of their problems but also their benefits.

I'm sure there are more. Anyone else want to weigh in?
Thanks for the all fish!
 6 artfulscruff, Tue, 10th May '11 1:54:49 PM from United Kingdom
hopelessly optimistic
I much prefer series with a definite end, whether they be short or long. I find that with ongoing series there's always a certain element of Status Quo Is God, and most of the time nothing ever really changes. I like to know that I'm going be rewarded with a proper conclusion.
"Life is far too important a thing ever to talk seriously about."
Grin and bear it
From my standpoint (the reader), I tend to generally like short stories more, just because there's a certain...charm to them. I can't really explain it that well. I do enjoy long runners (Animorphs and Harry Potter come to mind), but I have to get into them first in order to enjoy the rest of it.

From a fanfiction standpoint, I overwhelmingly like shorter stories. Although, this may just be because all of the long-running stories that I've bookmarked over the years have suddenly stopped updating and I hate the authors for that. tongue
 8 chihuahua 0, Tue, 10th May '11 2:50:26 PM from Standoff, USA Relationship Status: I'm in love with my car
Writer's Welcome Wagon
I tend towards both, as long as the Long Runner doesn't go on too long as to start to decay. -glares at outdated comic strips like Beetle Bailey, Blondie, Hi and Lois, Garfield...-

 9 Mr AHR, Tue, 10th May '11 2:52:13 PM from ಠ_ಠ Relationship Status: A cockroach, nothing can kill it.
Ahr river
Obviously each has their own pros and cons, but I am a long runner type of writer.
 10 chihuahua 0, Tue, 10th May '11 2:54:55 PM from Standoff, USA Relationship Status: I'm in love with my car
Writer's Welcome Wagon
Me too. I love my contiunity.

It's a matter of buffet versus single course, regular versus novelty.

If you ever manage a perfect balance of any, then you have achieved perfection, and should be quite pleased for doing it.

Don't expect a repeat though.

 
My teacher's a panda
For me, the difference is between plot driven and character driven. If I have a set of characters that I really enjoy and interact well with each other, and are each fascinating and can be explored in different ways, and if I feel that there are a lot of stories I could put them in, and if the world they live in is just as interesting, I would go for the long runner. If it's the plot that I'm in love with, with a beginning, middle, and an end, with no way I can figure to add onto it, I would make it short for the conciseness.

I love long works or series when I'm reading, and everything I write ends up turning into one as well — the initial idea will just keep expanding as one plot element or character requires the invention of another, and so forth. But for me, there has to be a definite ending it's working towards, otherwise I'm not interested. While I love the feeling of immersion in a series and speculating both about future developments and the meaning of past ones, it's knowing there will be an ultimate resolution and closure that makes it so satisfying. (Or, at least, knowing one is intended — I do follow several incomplete series and just hope they won't be hit by Author Existence Failure.) And in my writing, although the expansion is considerable, it does slow down as the plot elements and characters can throw out more and more links to existing elements rather than holes requiring new ones; ultimately there is always a stopping point where it doesn't feel the need to expand any more.

 14 Major Tom, Thu, 19th May '11 5:48:44 AM Relationship Status: Barbecuing
Eye'm the cutest!
There are advantages and disadvantages to both.

With Long Runners and continuing stories with no definitive end (yet) you can follow the logic of "better to be a slow smolder than a flash in the pan" and make things flow naturally. The drawbacks are mainly that such works trend towards either Status Quo Is God and little to no overall progress or towards overly complicated and snarled continuity.

With shorter works, if you hit it big right off the bat the rewards for a well-done story trump long running stuff. Secondly the plot only goes as long as you the writer want it and thus has a natural progression from beginning to climax to conclusion rather than dragging it out over many installments or seasons. It does have drawbacks though, mainly in the form of well-done epic works being subject to Awesomeness Withdrawal by the readers and thus wanting more or the dreaded One-Book Author-syndrome.

edited 19th May '11 5:49:56 AM by MajorTom

Endless Conflict: Every war ends in time, even supposedly this one.
 15 nrjxll, Thu, 19th May '11 3:46:24 PM Relationship Status: Not war
I feel I should point out that this isn't just Long Runner vs. Short 'N' Sweet as described in the title. There's also a conflict between "open-ended" fiction and fiction with a definite planned conclusion, and it's this where you get the real problems - open-ended fiction is what's really going to bring your Status Quo Is God and other interest-killers. Fiction with a definite end, in my opinion, is much better whether long or short - Long Runners still may have problems with ever-slowing arcs (as described in Zeno's Race or whatever that trope was renamed to), but there's still a chance it will get where it was going eventually.

As an example, I think the big problem with so many American comic books isn't that they're Long Runners or the oft-blamed Running the Asylum - it's that they have no planned end and probably never will as long as they bring in the money. As a result, no change really ever really stick, no major character will ever stay dead, and so forth - things will just keep going on, and on, and on, never really changing. In contrast, most manga (mangas? don't know my plurals here) do seem to have a planned end, and even though the long-running ones do slow down and down at times - particularly with Inaction Sequences - they do have an end in sight and so are willing to change things and have it stick much more, relatively speaking.

So, my opinion: Long Runner, short story, doesn't really matter as long as you do have an end in mind.

 16 feotakahari, Fri, 20th May '11 5:06:13 PM from Looking out at the city
Fuzzy Orange Doomsayer
I think that in many ways it's easier to write a good short story than a good novel, and I know I haven't yet developed some of the skills required to sustain a story over novel length. Since some of the things people like in fiction can't easily fit into a short story, I am aware that this limits my audience. I've tried to turn simplicity into an asset, though, by mimicking the streamlined, dream-like style typically found in fables, which works best at short lengths.
That's Feo . . . He's a disgusting, mysoginistic, paedophilic asshat who moonlights as a shitty writer—Something Awful
 17 chihuahua 0, Fri, 20th May '11 5:28:30 PM from Standoff, USA Relationship Status: I'm in love with my car
Writer's Welcome Wagon
[up][up] I agree. A writer should know the general direction and the ending of the story, no matter the length.

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Total posts: 17
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