1. ChrisGallagher
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    ChrisGallagher Member

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    Does the first novel need to start with a big bang?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by ChrisGallagher, May 12, 2010.

    Working on a new series of novels, I've been thinking. Most of my other books have been stand-alone, but this time I'd like to make a series. Does the first novel in a series need to have big stakes, and really pull you in, or can it be less-global on its scale, but with an equally fast pace.

    I have a few ideas in my head (each are independent), and each one really excites me. Does it matter in which order they are written, or can the order be mixed up, starting with a calmer project?
     
  2. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    It can be anything you want it to be. But a word of caution. Even if you already have a good publishing history, and an editor who might be interested in a series from you, it's a good idea to write the books in a way that they could be read without knowledge of the others. This is coming from a reader's perspective as much as a professional's. I read very few series books because they are not written in a way that its easy to enjoy each one on its own, and if you can't find the first one, it's hard to pick up in the middle.

    If you don't have much of a publishing history, not allowing it to stand on its own can reduce your ability to sell if because publishers are not likely to want to take the risk of commiting to a series from a writer who has not proven the ability to make money for a publisher. I say not likely because you never know. An agent was crazy enough to take on Twilight from an unproven author despite its length being way out of the normal word-count for a normal teen novel, and there are a few other similar examples.

    Pay attention to the rules of what happens most of the time, but crazy things do happen.
     
  3. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ditto all that... write your first novel in your hoped-for series as if it's the only one you'll ever write... IF it sells well, only then you may get a shot at having sequels published...
     
  4. Brandon_Trotter
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    Brandon_Trotter Senior Member

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    I am reading a series called Eargon ( its not finished yet which Is why I am still reading it ) and the first book was interesting but, was not spectaculr. a quick overview of the first few chapters farmer finds stone stone turns out to be dragon. nothing amazing there ( at least not for a fantsy genre ) but, with the right writing skills even something a simple as that can spawn an amazing series. I would sugest making an interesting plot line and see where that takes you. I look forward to reading your work.
     
  5. Halcyon
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    Halcyon Contributing Member Contributor

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    "Does the first novel need to start with a big bang?"

    If it's a novel about Life, The Universe And Everything, then yes. Allegedly. :)
     
  6. Mantha Hendrix
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    Mantha Hendrix Contributing Member

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    I think this is partially aided by the fact that his parents are publishers, and own a whole company... Paolini in mean.
     
  7. bigSQUISHY76
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    bigSQUISHY76 Member

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    I can not speak from experience but

    I would suggest that in addition to the above posts that you think back or skim back over books in a series that you really enjoyed and take some notes on how much connecting detail there was, how they went about keeping it, its own tale and allowing for the possibility for a sequel.

    I think books that can't stand alone are like commercials for products or services that I would never want or need or could not even be forced into using.

    After reading your question I went and looked for an author that writes series but that I am confident his books stand up alone. John Sanford the Prey series. You may not enjoy that genre but if you use it (or one like it) for just one of a many references you will see that he always enters details that identify his protagonist history and it isn't always in the beginning, most of it falls into place as the story progresses and is pertinent. He will also use events from a previous book to introduce the character in the next book, mentioning how he has this flat spot on his forehead because in a case 2 years ago he entered a wall smashing contest and won. There are so many ways I have seen this done and really I can only suggest that you start off with what you enjoy and that of readers that like what you like. If all books held to a strict format and standard, how long would it be before there were no books that were worth reading anymore.


    Is only my opinion,

    V/R
    BS76
     
  8. Sapphire_Trickett
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    Sapphire_Trickett New Member

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    I think you always want to start with your best book. I was recently at a conference given by publisher Jerry Simmons and someone asked this exact same question.

    He then told us a story about a woman he'd met who'd written a 13 book series and was looking to get it published. She was subbing her first book and he asked her why. She looked confused and said, well that's the first one. He told her that if she's got 13 books the 13th one would be the best written because she's had years of practice. He told her that if she really wanted to get published she should sub the last book she wrote.

    In a nutshell, as Mamamaia said above; write as though it's the only one you'll ever sell.
     
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  9. Jdabler06
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    Jdabler06 New Member

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    I agree. Each book should be able to stand alone while still linking into the series.
     

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