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Jamza1986
June 11th, 2004, 03:47 AM
This question has been bothering me for ages now. Trilogies are easier to sell - I think - but long books are harder to sell than shorter books. If I send off my first book as it is, it will be huge, we're talking a Wheel of Time+ sized book. Does anyone think its better to spilt the book into two?

Holbrook
June 11th, 2004, 04:40 AM
This question has been bothering me for ages now. Trilogies are easier to sell - I think - but long books are harder to sell than shorter books. If I send off my first book as it is, it will be huge, we're talking a Wheel of Time+ sized book. Does anyone think its better to spilt the book into two?

James; What you really need to do is get one book, just one story, polished, submitted and out there. Plan the rest, even begin to get them written, BUT work on the "one" each time it is rejected and it will be time after time, putting it bluntly you are an unknown, no track record, no sales of even short stories. So you need to work hard on the "one" on the synopsis. chapter break down and the pitch of the "one" Don't, and I believe this, unless you have a track record pitching trilogies can count against you. A publisher might take a risk on one new book from an unknown. Three? It would have had to have blown his socks off to even have him/her think on it.


Make sure that the first book has a resolution. The first Harry Potter book did, Terry Goodkind's first book did. ALL of the "best seller trilogies" or series books do have this, they can stand alone as a one off, even though there are enough threads for a sequel. That book, that story is told.

I have an outline for a series of books 3 sets of two with a "final one" set in "modern times" of that world. The first one is written all 250,000 words of it... Yet I haven't written any more, not yet, because I am not satisfied with the first, it needs so much work yet to "make it right" I also believe I need to have "sold" other work before I can present this, because of the nature of the beast. It is fantasy with a very small "f" and flies in the face of a lot of traditional fantasy. So I want to have something behind me when it goes out.

Jamza1986
June 11th, 2004, 07:26 AM
I suppose you're right. I have not written that many short stories and had a rejection when I sent one to be published. I am confident that I'm improving though. Here's the opening of the one I'm writing:

Maiden's Point


It began with a song. Waves had been lashing around the small ship as it was buffeted by a storm. The sailors had been working hard to keep the vessel afloat, while navigating the treacherously rocky coast. Then, above the roar of the seas came a sweet song. The beautiful voice filled the air, captivating the sailors. One by one they fell silent, mesmerized by the beauty. These men were tough sailors, and had little to do with songs, save the bawdy rhymes heard in the port taverns of which they were so fond.

However, something the melody struck them, whether it was the words of the song itself, its tune, or the beautiful female voice. The tempest still raged around them, but the ship was a bubble of calm. The crew stood with their eyes closed, or with thoughtful smiles, or even with tears running down their cheeks. The captivated sailors were oblivious to all else save the song, leaving the humble craft to fare for itself through the storm.

None saw the ship shatter onto the rocks that night. The residents of the sleepy fishing village rarely went up to Maiden's Point, especially not at night. It was first light when a young lad ran through the village yelling at the top of his voice about the wreck. Some of the bleary-eyed residents wandered out of their cottages, ready to scold him for waking them up, before comprehending what he was saying.

The young men of village then rushed out of their modest homes and out to the Point in the vain hope there might be survivors needing strong men to pull them out of the rough waters. It was an automatic reaction for honorable folk who lived near the sea, and they would do this every six months or so, when a ship fell afoul of the treacherous rocks around Maiden's Point. The older men of the village did not run to the Point so quickly, contenting themselves with a look of sorrow and a shake of the head.

Murkal
June 11th, 2004, 08:11 AM
I feel that the challenge of publishing the story I'm working on will encourage, rather than hinder my efforts. I'll keep trying and trying until I get the darn' thing accepted, and eventually put Harry Potter behind my heels. :rolleyes:

JRMurdock
June 11th, 2004, 08:16 AM
I've got a couple of comments and I inserted some comments into the text. My first HUGE comment, you explain what happened to the 'ship'. Why didn't you write out the 'story' of the ship. Give some of the crew, the captain, and the ship a name so I feel more connected with them. In these few paragraphs you never grabbed my attention because you explained what happened. If you re-write what happened to the ship as if it were a short story, have actual people with names doing things to try and save the ship and being captivated by the music, give personal feelings and reactions, etc. Then you'll catch my attention instead of explaining in brief the story of the 'ship'. Not to be cruel, but it was dull. I had this exact explanation from one of my stories where I explained what happened rather than let the story flow out. You started showing the story with the last paragraph, but I think you need to expand greatly on the first few paragraphs. This alone could be an entire chapter.

I do hate to do this to stories, but what you started with does have potential, it just needs to be told/show instead of explained.





However, somethingin the melody struck them, whether it was the words of the song itself, its tune, or the beautiful female voice. The tempest still raged around them, but the ship was a bubble of calm. The crew stood with their eyes closed, or with thoughtful smiles, or even with tears running down their cheeksThis previous sentence struck me as odd. The captivated sailors were oblivious to all else save the song, leaving the humble craft to fare for itself through the storm.I thought they were in a bubble with the ship?

None saw the ship shatter onto the rocks that night.again, I thought the ship was in a bubble? The residents of the sleepy fishing village rarely went up to Maiden's Point, especially not at night.confusing sentence It was first light when a young lad ran through the village yelling at the top of his voice about the wreck. Some of the bleary-eyed residents wandered out of their cottages, ready to scold him for waking them up, before comprehending what he was saying.You still haven't caught my attention

The young men of village then rushed out of their modest homes and out to the Point in the vain hope there might be survivors needing strong men to pull them out of the rough waters. It was an automatic reaction for honorable folk who lived near the sea, and they would do this every six months or so, when a ship fell afoul of the treacherous rocks around Maiden's Point. The older men of the village did not run to the Point so quickly, contenting themselves with a look of sorrow and a shake of the head.

JRMurdock
June 11th, 2004, 08:17 AM
This is the begining of the Prologue of my story (well, it is now). If you've been to my web site, I have the prologue posted and the begining doesn't really grab you. This portion was originally in the middle of the Prologue. I'm currently seeing how much 'fat' I can remove from it and shorten it drastically.

After a brief time, the storyteller awoke; the night had grown too quiet. Sitting straight up, he scanned all around. He got his dagger from his pack; its long, slender blade glinted in the starlit and moonless night. Walking a few paces from the fire, soon he could see the trees off to the side of the path but still heard no sound. He could not even hear the sound of his own breathing and this told him that something was not right.
He walked toward the trees and glanced back, assuring himself that the camp would be all right. He found an unexpected small path. His footsteps made no sound as he walked between the trees. A slight breeze sent a chill up his spine and he felt the small hairs on the back of his neck stand up. He followed the path for some time, keeping on constant guard, with his dagger held out in front of him ready for any danger that might present itself. The starlight shone through the trees making the way easy. Nothing seemed to move on either side of the path.
The storyteller found his way to a small clearing. Never in all his times coming to Wellshire, had he seen this path nor did he recall anything like this perfectly circular clearing in any of his travels. Yet there was an ancient feel about the place and it made his skin crawl. A large circular pool was in the center of the clearing; its surface was as smooth as a mirror and reflected the stars. Finding his way to its side, he peered in, shocked to find that his face did not reflect. Startled from this, he pulled back and suddenly felt colder. A misty fog began to roll out from the trees opposite the pool. It was all he could do not to run in fear, but his feet seemed frozen in place.
The fog stopped when it was about halfway across the pool. Ripples crossed the pool’s surface, making no sounds as they lapped at his feet. The wind ceased to blow and a warm feeling came over him. Again, he suppressed the feeling to run. The mist seemed to be forming a shape just over the middle of the pool. Then he heard a noise; a soft, gasping voice trying to find words. Then words were spoken.
“You must train another,” said the raspy voice.
“Maus?” The storyteller gasped as his body grew hot.
The storyteller awoke with a start; his face was nearly in the fire. He was sweating from being so close to it and he pulled himself back. What did the dream mean? Who was to be his replacement? What was going on? The storyteller shuddered and moved himself back from the fire and lay on his back, gazing up at the stars. Never had his dreams seemed so real and never had Maus appeared in them. Until now, Maus was only a memory from the story he told. Was there to be some connection with this trip? He tossed the thoughts around in his head for a long time; afraid to close his eyes again, the storyteller stared at the sky until exhaustion overtook him.

Erebus
June 11th, 2004, 09:52 AM
I suppose you're right. I have not written that many short stories and had a rejection when I sent one to be published. I am confident that I'm improving though. Here's the opening of the one I'm writing:


James, the best thing to do now rather than to worry about selling your work is to make sure that the work is at least in a professional state to be submitted. By that I mean you need to do lots of editing - after you've put the work away for a while and worked on something else. Why do this, I hear you ask. Well, you will then be able to better see any obvious errors in the manuscript, and in particular, those in the small piece you posted here, which I assume you have cut and pasted from your manuscript.

I would imagine that any editor seeing that you have a missing word in only the second paragraph (and others later in the piece) would earn you a blue pencil line and immediate rejection.

Editing and revision is what you need to be working on now, if the manuscript has been completed of course, which is what you have intimated here. As I said, putting it away for a few weeks and then reading through it again will immediately highlight the errors that can be so easily missed. Trust me, it works. :)

Hope this helps.

KatG
June 11th, 2004, 01:35 PM
This question has been bothering me for ages now. Trilogies are easier to sell - I think - but long books are harder to sell than shorter books. If I send off my first book as it is, it will be huge, we're talking a Wheel of Time+ sized book. Does anyone think its better to spilt the book into two?
There are several assumptions there about the market that are incorrect. Trilogies became popular, off the model of having broken Tolkein's work down into three books, but neither they nor long series are the only forms in fantasy. Two book series and standalones are also present. Nor do the volumes in a trilogy have to be long monsters, even in epic fantasy. Longer books are not harder to sell than shorter books in any genre, but particularly not in the fantasy genre, where long books are common. Publishers will be primarily interested in your first book, since that will be the one they are taking the chance with, but if that first book is the start of a proposed series, and plotlines lead from an open ending of Book #1 into Books 2 and 3, publishers do consider this in deciding whether to acquire Book 1, but they do so in terms of what they feel the prospects of the particular series might be based on your writing, not on whether you are proposing to do a trilogy or a nine book series. (Trilogies often become nine book series anyhow, and those books may be fat or short.)

So the issue isn't 3 fat books versus 9 shorter ones, it's what form would set off Book #1 and the series in the best light. You've got a really big Book #1, so it might make sense to break it into two (that's what GRR Martin had to do with his.) But, is there a good break point to serve as the ending to Book #1 in that case? Is there enough material in the latter half of the book to serve as a really good Book 2? Is that going to be it, or do you have some ideas for where you could take the series? I would suggest that you stop worrying about what publishers will most want -- which is and will eternally be a story that knocks their individual socks off, whatever the form -- and start looking at what will work best for the story, which is something that may take awhile to figure out, and may change over the course of time. The number of fantasy authors who started out planning to do one standalone book or one trilogy and had it telescope into more is legion, as are the number of fantasy series that petered out before expected or were abandoned by their authors for new projects.

Dawnstorm
June 11th, 2004, 04:20 PM
I've got a couple of comments and I inserted some comments into the text. My first HUGE comment, you explain what happened to the 'ship'. Why didn't you write out the 'story' of the ship. Give some of the crew, the captain, and the ship a name so I feel more connected with them. In these few paragraphs you never grabbed my attention because you explained what happened. If you re-write what happened to the ship as if it were a short story, have actual people with names doing things to try and save the ship and being captivated by the music, give personal feelings and reactions, etc. Then you'll catch my attention instead of explaining in brief the story of the 'ship'. Not to be cruel, but it was dull. I had this exact explanation from one of my stories where I explained what happened rather than let the story flow out. You started showing the story with the last paragraph, but I think you need to expand greatly on the first few paragraphs. This alone could be an entire chapter.

To a certain point, I agree with Maus's assessment. I'm not so sure about the solution, though, as I don't know where the story's going.

More changes will have to be made if this is the beginning of a short story, than if this is the beginning of a novel, as in short stories there tends to be less tolerance for exposition.

The problem with this particular part of exposition is not that it's exposition, but that what we're exposed to isn't all that new and interesting and you get the same effect by a simple sentence:

That night the sirens of Maiden's Point struck again.

Well, not in that language obviously, but the sentence pretty much says it all. Your readers (and especially editors) will know about sirens; they will recognise the story, and they'll think to themselves "aha, another siren-story" and many may stop reading, and they'll never find out how interesting the story really is, once it gets going.

===

So why, then, do I hesitate to suggest to "have actual people with names doing things to try and save the ship and being captivated by the music, give personal feelings and reactions, etc.", as Maus did? While this might be the way to go, it might also be a complete waste of time; yours and that of your readers.

If the ship itself is pretty irrelevant to the story, other than being another victim and starting point for your story, you'd be better off just telling us that a ship had crashed at Maiden's Point. (If this is a short story, do it with a sentence or two and associate it with a relevant point of view; if this is a novel, I find no fault with your basic approach, but - personally - I'd go for less detail in the first three paragraphs and more in the last...)

Summary: Show what's important; if it's the result that matters, not the process, give relevant information through exposition. Don't use paragraphs of exposition telling us of things we know about, but make use of what you can expect people to know. Less to no exposition for short stories.

So, you see, I'm not really disagreeing with Maus. I'm just adding that exposition can work, and that it's sometimes what you want. Even in short stories.

===

And in case you care for some random thoughts from a nutcase like me:

1. I should think that maiden song would have a fare more devastating effect in calm weather, when they don't have to screech like harpies or boom like Wagnerian valkyries to drown out a storm.

2. Why would people want to build a village near a rock that has sirens? You wake up in the night, go get a drink of water and - bang - you're smitten by that gorgeous voice, following it... Oh, wait, I get it! They're settling there because of the loot. They must be a comparatively wealthy fishing village, the honourable folk of Maiden's Point.

I hope my comments didn't upset you. I'm actually intrigued by the excerpt and would like to read more. Unlike Maus, I didn't find it dull. There's a bit of surplus verbage, but apart from that I like it. If my comments above did not upset you, I'd offer to read the entire thing and give you my take on what you did.

===

Oh, and to say something on topic: I don't know about the market, but as a reader I'm more likely to pick up an enormous book than something that has "book 1" printed onto the front cover.

In the end, it's the publisher who decides, anyway, so why not just send them the entire thing, and ask them for advice on how to publish that in the query letter?

Somebody once said (and I think it was Matthew Stover over at the Dead City) that you shouldn't think too much about what the market wants, because, by the time you've finished your novel, the market has changed.

Am rambling... :o

Cheers!

Jamza1986
June 11th, 2004, 04:51 PM
Hi all, thanx for the comments but I probably didn't make it quite clear. This is only a short story, not my manuscript. Also, the opening is a little different ot the rest. I've included a little more below to show a bit of how the story develops.

Maiden's Point


It began with a song. Waves had been lashing around the small ship as it was buffeted by a storm. The sailors had been working hard to keep the vessel afloat, while navigating the treacherously rocky coast. Then, above the roar of the seas came a sweet song. The beautiful voice filled the air, captivating the sailors. One by one they fell silent, mesmerized by the beauty. These men were tough sailors, and had little to do with songs, save the bawdy rhymes heard in the port taverns of which they were so fond.

However, something about the melody struck them, whether it was the words of the song itself, its tune, or the beautiful female voice. The tempest still raged around them, but the ship was a bubble of calm. The crew stood with their eyes closed, or with thoughtful smiles, or even with tears running down their cheeks. The captivated sailors were oblivious to all else save the song, leaving the humble craft to fare for itself through the storm.

None saw the ship shatter onto the rocks that night. The residents of the sleepy fishing village rarely went up to Maiden's Point, especially not at night. It was first light when a young lad ran through the village yelling at the top of his voice about the wreck. Some of the bleary-eyed residents wandered out of their cottages, ready to scold him for waking them up, before comprehending what he was saying.

The young men of village then rushed out of their modest homes and out to the Point in the vain hope there might be survivors needing strong men to pull them out of the rough waters. It was an automatic reaction for honorable folk who lived near the sea, and they would do this every six months or so, when a ship fell afoul of the treacherous rocks around Maiden's Point. The older men of the village did not run to the Point so quickly, contenting themselves with a look of sorrow and a shake of the head.

A traveler came into the village later that day. He was a young man called Daniel, a sailor who was searching for work. A winding path took him along the high cliffs of the coast and down into the settlement. There were few people about. All the men were at the docks or out in their boats, while only a handful of their wives were seen going about their daily business. The quiet was not comforting; it was rather the subdued climate of fear.

Finding the village itself to be unsettling, Daniel walked away from the cottages and down to the docks. Amongst the rickety wooden structures, he found the local inn, called The Sailor's Haven. Despite it being too early in the day for the place to be full of sailors and dockhands, he decided to spend some time in there. He walked inside and sat down at the bar, but deciding not to order any ale. He had little appetite for the drink as of late.

The inn was nearly empty. The only patrons were two old men sitting at the bar and a young boy at one of the tables nearby. The barman stood behind the bar washing some glasses. Daniel found the place unwelcoming; in fact, all in the room seemed oblivious to his presence, save the boy who stared at him with startling green eyes.

The two men drinking at the bar were deep in conversation, and they were not talking quietly. Daniel could not help but overhear what they said, and became fascinated by it.

"I tell you, John," said a man with a long gray beard. "That young wench on the lighthouse won't stop plaguing us. If we burn it down, she will have her revenge. Come now, we two have lived with the specter most of our lives. Now is not the time to worry about things such as these. Men old as we should leave the troubles to the young, to our sons."

"No Jacob you are wrong," replied his clean-shaven companion. "Don't you realize other men's sons are killed by her singing, lulled to their doom on the rocks by the beauty? No, if we, the old and wise, can't help the young folk in this, who will?"

Jacob sighed and shook his head at the naivety he perceived from his friend. "You were there, John. My goodness, you've been here since. Don't you agree we tried everything? For fifty years the ghost has sung on dark stormy nights, sending good men to their deaths. Old Father Handley tried blessing the lighthouse, we tried to warn ships, yet some still venture near, why Jonathon, you yourself braved the climb one stormy night. Coming back, you were as pale as ghostly maiden herself. I think it changed you, that night. Since then you have always been more cautious of things, nay, more fearful."

John closed his eyes and appeared to tremble at the mention of his ordeal with the ghost. "As would you, Jacob, had you beheld the apparition as I have. Had you done so, you would be as determined as me to rid this place of her."

Jacob sighed thoughtfully and took a large sup of his ale. The men became silent, interested only in the contents of their glasses. At the end of the conversation, Daniel strummed his fingers on the bar for a while, but then had it in mind to leave, as the atmosphere of the inn was no better than that of the village.

Turning round he saw the boy with green eyes still staring at him intently. Shivering under the scrutiny, he started to leave the inn when the boy called out to him.

"Hello. My name's Tom" he said, still not taking his eyes off Daniel.

"Err hello," he replied. "My name's Daniel."

"Your a stranger, arn't you?" The boy asked. "Why have you come to this village? No-one visits anymore."

Daniel's voice faltered at the cold stare. "I-I'm a sailor looking for work. I thought I might have some luck here."

Tom mused thoughtfully at the prospect and then said, "You might find some work here, because nobody wants to work in a haunted village. But then there are less boats about now. The harbormaster says the trade's gone." Tom then shivered and said, "You know about the haunt here don't you? A ghostly maiden wanders the lighthouse at night."

"I overheard talk of it, yes. But surely it is just superstition, no-one believes in ghosts."

"We do." The boy replied.

Daniel said goodbye walked out of the inn, disturbed by Tom's strange manner. He headed to the docks and spent some time watching the limited trade going on down there. A few boats were out fishing, with a couple being repaired by a shipwright. Some of the fishermen were readying their nets, while others cut lengths of rope and still others loaded crates of fresh fish. No one spoke to him, which was well as he did not particularly desire company in this strange village. He decided he would stay the night at the inn, and be on his way in the morning.

The men seemed subdued. Amongst the seamen Daniel had known, talk was either cheery or full of curses and complaints. The conversations never lacked passion, whatever they were about. Down here, the talk was of the village being cursed by the ghostly maiden, of the bout of disease last summer, of the lack of fish in the sea and of the often-poor weather. They seemed like men who had lost their determination and drive for anything, and resigned themselves to meekly worrying about the future. Daniel found the talk tiresome, and so left, making his way east, out of the village and down by the sea.

Daniel walked down along the rocky bays, gazing at the sea. Only a light, salty breeze blew across the water, a sharp contrast the apparent fury of last night's tempest. He walked for a long way along the bay, enjoying the quiet noise of the water lapping against the shore. At sunset, Daniel decided it was time to head back and get a room at the inn. Perhaps he could get a meal, too. He felt he should eat, despite still not being hungry.

A mist descended upon the sea as the sky darkened. Moonlight shone down in shafts between the clouds, illuminating the mist in an ethereal fashion, creating swirling patterns and illusions across the silent waters. The light breeze moaned as it blew through the coves and against the stark cliffs rising from the beach. Daniel shivered; as much with anxiety as with the cold. If ever there were a place for spirits, it was along this remote coast.

As the cliffs lessoned and the beach became wider, Daniel saw specks of light upon the hills marking the settlement. He was relieved to have returned and laughed to himself about his cowardice earlier. He continued along the beach in a lighter mood, once again enjoying the quiet solitude of the bay.

As Daniel walked, he heard a faint sound borne to him on the wind. At first, it was an incomprehensible noise, but as he walked further along the beach he realized it was a song. He assumed a woman from the village was singing it. He listened for a moment, charmed by the girl's beautiful voice.

After a time of walking across the beach, Daniel realized the song could not be coming from the town, and that the woman had to be a little further along the beach. The song was familiar to him, yet he could not quite remember where he had heard it before. It was a song designed for the human voice alone. In any case, any instrument that accompanied this singer would pale in comparison to her perfection. She took the tune and song, combining them into a melodious thing of beauty, wrapping each part of the music around her voice and delivering a sweet sound into the night.