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Lucky Joe
March 23rd, 2003, 05:55 AM
I seem to remember reading somewhere in here that a few of you are writing trilogies - or series - and I was wondering how you tackle such projects. Let's be honest writing one book is a big undertacking, writing three or more along a single story line/concept is HUGE.

So what I wanted to know is do you write the first book and work on it until it's 'complete' then start on book two and so on, or do you write the whole lot (Trilogy/whatever) in one go, first draft for all three books and then edit through from book one to book Nth?

Or do you write the first book and wait and see if you sell it before you even think about touching pen to paper on anything else in that world/story?

mistri
March 23rd, 2003, 06:36 AM
My current project is a standalone, but I wanted my previous WIP to be a trilogy. I had a clear idea of what the second book would be, but didn't know how it would all come together for the third and final book. In hindsight I don't think this was a particularly great way for me to do it.

If I decide to go for a trilogy next time, I intend to do a full outline for the first book (cos this is what works for me) and at the very least a brief outline for the next two. I'll want to know in advance what major plots and subplots carry on throughout all the books, so that I can plant little clues and things into the first book - so that when whatever it is comes up again later on, the reader will remember reading about it earlier.

I think if you go in blind - intend to write three books, but only think about one at a time - it'll be doable, but much harder, than planning it out a bit in advance so that you get a coherent story line running smoothly through all three.

When it actually comes to the writing, I would write and edit the first book til completion before starting properly on the others. I'd also try and make the first book have a standalone-ish ending so that if a publisher didn't want to take a risk on committing to all three, the first would be saleable on its own. In fact, I'd probably write and polish all three seperately and I'd just rely on my outline to keep the story together. But this is just my way of doing it.

Pluvious
March 23rd, 2003, 04:17 PM
I think the reason you are writing a trilogy is because you have so much story you can't fit it into one book.

I'm currently working on a trilogy (or more). Before beginning the project research was done for the entire series. This means that I have more than enough ideas for several novels.

As far as writing goes, I will work on only one book at a time. However, I already know many of the main ideas and scenes that will occur in the next couple of books.

choppy
March 23rd, 2003, 08:40 PM
I think that part of the reason behind the popularity of trilogies and series has to do with the business end of things. I was once offered a piece of advice from a published author that was basically this: it's always best to have several good stories that you want to get published, rather than one. That way if your stuff "takes off" the publisher can put out another one of your books and capitalise on the market.

The SF/F genre has a tendency to have a very loyal fan-base on a relative scale too. Once people find a particular fantasy world they like, they want to go back.

As far as the writing side goes, I haven't really had the ambition to tackle something so great. It's hard enough just to write a single novel. In this genre however, I think it's always good to leave a few things open at the end of a story so that you could come back and write a sequal if you want to.

With all the work of world-building in this genre, its not surprising that many of the stories can't be completely told in a single novel. Often the stories are chronicalling the history of an empire, or a people - hardly something that can be summarised.

One thing to keep in mind when working on a trilogy or series though is that it's best to make each single novel as "stand alone" as possible. I know that I've picked up a couple of books that looked interesting read the first few pages or so and thought - mmm maybe this would make more sense if I read parts 1 through 8. But I don't have time to read a whole series... next.

Singleton
March 23rd, 2003, 09:54 PM
That's my problem. I don't want my first exposure to an author to be in book one of seven. I'm not sure he or she has written something worthy of that much of my time. Trilogies are good though - they are big enough to keep you occupied for a while if you like it, short enough to be over quickly if you don't.

I honestly think that if you can't cover everything in three books, then all you're doing is rehashing plot and suspense - you're just sending people for a ride.

I don't know if any of you ever read the boxcar children, but it's like this - each of the 117 books contained the exact same theme, characters, locations, and predictable events - only the locale changed a little.

Pluvious
March 24th, 2003, 01:56 AM
I disagree with both Singleton and Choppy.

The reason fantasy tales come in groups of three is that an epic story needs more than one book to tell. Unfortunately, many fantasy authors don't begin with an "epic" tale to tell. Instead they have a regular story and then write several stories in the same world. Not nearly the same as one epic tale.

Some good examples of true epic tales that needed more than one book are ASOIAF, The Wheel of Time, and The Farseer Trilogy. Of course Robert Jordan has gone into la la land a little, but that's another story.

Also, I like the idea of starting a new author who has a large number of books already completed in the series. It's exciting. When I began Wheel of Time there were five books already out. That always gave me something to look forward to reading.

mistri
March 24th, 2003, 04:00 AM
The bad thing about trilogies, in my point of view (and this actually applies to any number of books in a series) is that I get very frustrated waiting for each book to come out.

The year gap (minimum usually) is there for several reasons - the biggest being time it takes the author to write it, but also the publisher's schedule.

Also, plenty of people are happy to wait this long, but not little old impatient me! I read very quickly, and forget very quickly and often find myself having to reread books by the time its sequel comes along. Consequently, I prefer to wait until a series is finished before buying into it. Of course this isn't always possible, especially with writers like George RR Martin and Robin Hobb, where I just can't keep away.

arggh. mini-rant over :) and it won't stop me trying to write series anyway!

Lucky Joe
March 24th, 2003, 08:56 AM
I agree that some stories need more than one volume to be told in full, however i do find myself getting annoyed with authors who tell one story over a number of books, in my opinion each book should form a part of the story and be complete in themselves, they should still relate to the overall plot and to some degree be able to stand on their own.

I'm currently working on a trilogy (hence the reason for starting the thread) and am looking to tell essentially one story throughout the three books, however one of the parameters that I've set myself is that each book in the trilogy should be a complete story in itself, that's not to say that you could read book three without having read the first two, but having read book one I'd like to think there is a sense of closure and at the same time the desire to find out what happens next, and the same for book two. Perhaps this will prove to be a bit trickier than I imagine, but then a fair number of people have already achieved this balance so I know it's not impossible.

The only author I've heard of (and I'm sure there are many more) that actually finshed a complete series before getting any of them published was Ian Irvine - The View From The Mirror Quartet - and he said somewhere that it was a huge advantae to be able to view the whole series before sending it out to publishers.

IaNo
March 25th, 2003, 04:02 AM
I've been thinking about just this problem a lot lately. I finished the first draft of my WIP. Now, it's about 90,000 words and pretty good. I already have the other 2 books outlined. The wierd things about my "trilogy," is that the second book is a simultaneous prequel that starts before the first book but ends in the same place and overlaps. It is written in first person where my first book is in third person. the third book is going to be very very different from the first two because the world changes alot during the few years in between books. So, I'm tempted to include bits of the second book into my current book, especially the parts that overlap. But, then I would leave nothing for the second book and would have to add all of it to the first and then it would be about 200,000 words and a whopper and then the series would be 2 books and not a trilogy. I'm still debating. Any suggestions?

Lucky Joe
March 25th, 2003, 04:26 AM
IaNo; Going on what you said, I would probably stick with the original idea of having three books, I like the idea of having a second book that runs parrelle to the first and is told in a different style. Sounds good. :D