The other night, we had my parents over for dinner.
It's one of those activities that we like to do occasionally, especially now that we have kids. Grandparents like to get their time in with the little ones!
While we were eating, my parents - who keep up with the Hardwick series via paperback - were discussing the most recent season. Normally, I shy away from these conversations. I find it to be a little embarrassing to talk about this stuff with family, for whatever reason. But then my mom asked a pretty interesting question that's been on my mind:
"So, how long are you planning on writing this series?"
And it's a question that I've thought about for a long time. After all, as I pursue the transition to a full-time career as an author, I really just have the one series going right now.
The core of the Hardwick series is the conspiracy behind Charlie's conviction. There is an end point in that conspiracy. There has to be. It's my duty as a writer to bring closure to the audience at some point. If I write 15 seasons of Hardwick and I still haven't brought the conspiracy to a close, readers are going to be exhausted.
I can only kick the can down the road so far. That wouldn't be fair to you.
But there's also a method to my madness here.
The conspiracy has an endpoint, but the series doesn't.
I have a general idea of where I'm taking the series. This main thread of "Who framed Charlie Hardwick?" does have a finish line. Where I hit that finish line will depend on how to series plays out. As of right now, I'm looking at 6-7 seasons' worth as I peel back the onion. It could be more. It could be less.
But I've also intentionally set up the series this way so that the end of the conspiracy doesn't have to be the end of the series.
Each episode works as a standalone story. I can write those indefinitely.
I can also explore other aspects of Charlie's character. As a homicide detective, he can make new enemies. I can have season-long story arcs that continue to push him forward as a character. There can be new antagonists.
There are also other characters we can explore. We can have character arcs involving his partner Sarah, the Chief, and other detectives and officers in the Chicago PD.
As I build the Hardwick series, the world of characters and possibilities continues to expand and open up.
Won't I get bored?
Well, if I get bored, that's on me, right?
It's my job as I move through this series to continue to make this world and its characters interesting. It's on me to build ways to create new stories and not just an endpoint.
Slowly but surely, I'm working on fleshing out these characters. I want the relationships between them to drive the series as the plot winds down. And I want to use the plots to make them more fully-formed.
That, by design, would keep the series interesting as we continue forward.
So I'll never write any other series?
I have other ideas in my mind. I have notes taken down for completely new series. I have a supernatural-focused one that I almost started with before I started writing the Hardwick series.
I would love to explore other series. But I want the foundation at the outset to be Hardwick.
My ability to explore other series is directly related to my available time, too. I've set the end of 2017 as my goal for transitioning to being a full-time author. If I can do that, then I would have more time to start building other worlds and other series.
But right now, as my time is limited, my focus has to be making Hardwick as good as I can make it.
I'm learning as I go. I'm learning about publishing. I'm learning about advertising. I'm learning about my audience and how to interact best with them. And I'm also learning how to write books. The books I write now are completely different from the stories I wrote at the beginning of the series.
I'm finding myself as a writer. As I do that, I can create new ways to explore the Hardwick universe, and I can find ways to build new worlds as well.
So, will I write Hardwick forever? Possibly. I have enough material to keep it interesting for a very long time. I'll also branch out and write other stories too. Maybe even spinoffs, in keeping with the "TV series" approach that I have to my writing.
Hardwick isn't going away for a very long time. Settle in and enjoy the stories. As long as you're having fun, I am too.