1. ToBeInspired
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    ToBeInspired Contributing Member

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    General Consensus on Book 0's?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by ToBeInspired, Sep 7, 2016.

    I've noticed that authors of extensive series will later on publish a book predating book 1.

    I'm town between inputting information about the world I built in the first book or go into more detail by making it a book itself.

    I'd like to put the information out there. Just not sure on how. Possibly a free novella, a full novel, a brief short story, or make it work in book 1. I do believe it would be helpful to understand the world I built, but I don't want too put too much attention on it and detract from the pace of the first book.

    Any thoughts?
     
  2. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    Follow these three steps, without deviation.

    1/ Get your book published. Do not worry about steps 2/ & 3/

    2/ Worry about the series. Do not worry about steps 1/ & 3/

    3/ Worry about the prequel.

    4/ Worry about all the tax you're going to have to pay on your millions.
     
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  3. KhalieLa
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    KhalieLa It's not a lie, it's fiction. Contributor

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    I don't like world encyclopedias, I'd rather have the story. That dosen't mean there isn't a story BEFORE the story. My story starts after a civil war. At some point I'd like to go back & write the war, however it's not necessary to understand the current book.
     
  4. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    Book 0 is like saying that your series needed a backstory that couldn't be explained throughout the main story line.
    It is kinda strange, like withholding vital information that should have been there in the first place. That and if your
    series is 'never ending', then why would you not start with the backstory book first to establish things?

    Book 0 should only be written if the fandom demands that something of a cornerstone be needed to cement an otherwise
    already established lore within the original story. Or unless you have a massive expanse of story that could use the aid of
    having a 'historical' lead up to the main event. Though this could have been your starting book, or established throughout
    the main story.
     
  5. ToBeInspired
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    ToBeInspired Contributing Member

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    Well, book 0's tend to be from the perspective of a different character. I could never explain it as fully in my first book as I'd want and I don't want that to be my first book due to not following the same trend of the others and eliminating my flow.

    I think regardless I'll write it. It'll be a good reference for developing the other books on how certain situations play out and help with my world building. If I publish it I publish it, if not then I don't. No big deal.
     
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  6. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I think that's a good way to go. It may well be that this is information that you need (or at least feel comfortable having), but the reader may not.
     
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  7. Lyrical
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    Lyrical Frumious Bandersnatch

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    I don't see any harm in putting out a "Book Zero." Fans who enjoy the series can pick it up if they want that supplementary information (and plenty do, especially in the speculative fiction arena) and fans who prefer the series as-is without the "encyclopedia" as KhalieLa said can choose not to read it. You aren't forcing this information on anyone by stuffing your first book with so much world info that it's bursting at the seams and taking away from the plot, which is good. A separate book of its own seems like a happy solution.
     
  8. ToBeInspired
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    ToBeInspired Contributing Member

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    Well, KhalieLa's post could be interpreted as saying that she doesn't like a clutter of information in the first book and prefers a more streamline approach. Not sure which way she's leading.

    The "you should have it covered in your main story" is simply the difference between the amount of detail and description used. You could say Joe read a book. You could also mention the title, when he read, how long it took him, how it made him feel, a summary of the book, etc.

    However, if it doesn't add to the story then it's better to be more concise. In a book devoted completely to that explanation, it is necessary. If the book changed Joe's life and caused him to completely change his ways, it can deserve more attention. However, my scenario is detailing a major plot issues that builds an entirely new world. One that is different, though similar, to ours. The telling of said happenings to get to that point do not fit the general flow of the others. However, it's a story worth telling and interesting in it's own right. Not only that, it fills in gaps and holes the reader would have been left with.

    I dislike when books go multiple chapters explaining their world. I prefer a different pace. Even if it's really interesting, I'd have one of those "Oh, wow that's why that happened. It all makes so much sense now."
     
  9. KhalieLa
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    KhalieLa It's not a lie, it's fiction. Contributor

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    Encyclopedias should be reserved for non-fiction, that's the way Khaliela is leaning.

    Just because you've built a world doesn't mean all of it needs divulged in the novel. Just because you've created a character, doesn't mean you need to document every aspect of his/her being in the novel. If it does not add to the story, it should not be in the book.

    That said, there is nothing wrong with Book 0. How many goofy kids went out and bought a reference guide for their favorite series? A few. (I know mine did.) But think of it this way:

    Lord of the Rings - - Awesome, lots of readers, even a series of movies.
    Book 0 - - The Silmarillion - - Awful read; I know because I read it.
    OR
    Book 0 - - The Hobbit - - Truly a wonderful story in it's own right.

    If you want a Book 0, go for The Hobbit over The Silmarillion. Give me the STORY before the STORY, not an encyclopedia.
     
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  10. ToBeInspired
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    ToBeInspired Contributing Member

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    Not sure why you spoke of yourself in third person, but all good. All I was saying was your statement was a bit vague. I assumed what you said, but interpretation is left to each person.

    Like I said, I was simply interested in opinions on prefacing a first book of a prior series. Regardless if or not I publish it'll be a beneficial experience to write an originating story prior to publishing my first book. However long I hold it, if I even release it, is still not decided. Regardless, I can utilize it towards my benefit. Though, to be fair, fiction and non-fiction are entirely different animals.
     
  11. Scot
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    Scot Active Member

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    I tend to regard Book Zeroes as an attempt by the author, or publisher, to either a) cash in on an already successful series or, b) boost sales of a flagging series.

    Off-hand I can't think of one I've enjoyed as much as the original book.
     
  12. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    The thing is, The Silmarillion was not meant to be published as a novel. It was basically a collection of notes Tolkien made to frame his series, and was published after his death. There are lots of potential stories in there, but it was not a prequel. It was basically his notes, collected and published because many of Tolkien's readers were interested in the world of Middle Earth that he created.

    I think many people picked it up thinking they were getting another story in the manner of The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, etc, and were upset that it read more like a historical timeline. Basically it WAS a historical timeline! It wasn't a Book Zero, in the sense the OP means Book Zero.
     
  13. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I can't recall any books that did this (although there probably are many) but I would think of a Book Zero as something like "The Young Indiana Jones" or The Han Solo Prequel. In other words, not a reference book, but an actual story that takes place in the same world and with the same characters, but taking place some time BEFORE the original story did.
     
  14. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yeah, I think there's a distinction to be made between a series encyclopedia (never read one, can't imagine I ever will) and a prequel or story set in the same universe as the main story (read quite a few, enjoyed many of them).

    The distinction, obviously, is the story. OP, do you have a story you really want to tell in this extra book, or is it just a way to convey information? If the latter (ever if the information is given a thin cloak of story) I don't think it's worth your time to write it unless you want to write it for yourself.
     
  15. KhalieLa
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    KhalieLa It's not a lie, it's fiction. Contributor

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    1) I always refer to myself in 3rd person when people in a room are talking about me like I'm not there.
    2) Always handy, but why bother with an actual book? Many world builders have encyclopedias of knowledge regarding geography, economics, political climate, regional religions, dialects & languages, etc. Not to mention the character basics of who belongs to which and what goes where. However, you don't need to write book 0 in order to write book 1. I was 30 pages into a prologue before I realized the "prologue" was its own book. I set it aside and wrote book 1 starting where the MC enters the story, because books 1-3 are really her story. If books 1-3 sell, then I can go back and write books 0, 1/3, 2/3 (yup, I have a trilogy BEFORE the trilogy), and if they don't sell, I didn't waste a year (or more) of my life writing a story that I didn't really need.
    3) Which is why you shouldn't publish fiction that reads like an encyclopedia. :)

    Yeah, I know. I was just using LOTR as an example. If LOTR is the series, then The Hobbit is book 0. And would be a good example of book 0 IMHO. The Silmarillion doesn't make a good book 0 because it's just world building, not a story.

    For my kids, it was Erin Hunter's Warrior's series. I think I bought 40 zillion of her books (OK, maybe just 40) over the years for the kids. After finishing Warriors (a series of 6), she wrote The New Prophesy (series of 6), then wrote, The Power of Three (series of 6), etcetera ad nauseam. But she also threw in a few book 0's, Bluestar's Prophesy, Firestar's Quest, etc. and she wrote "field guides" like The Secrets of the Clans.

    Bluestar's Prophesy
    and Firestar's Quest are stories that occur before each series, but published after the series. The kids gobbled them up. The field guides are her world building notes. All of which were eagerly bought by young readers wanting to know more about the life of the clans. The field guilds read about like an encyclopedia, because in essence, that's what they are.

    But, as @Shadowfax pointed out, it's a moot point until you have written and published Book 1.
     
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  16. ToBeInspired
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    ToBeInspired Contributing Member

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    2) It's the story before the story. It does not match the rest of the series, but it's pretty darn important. Need? How would it hurt though? Don't see your reasoning. It wouldn't take me a year to write a book I don't have to edit over and over... not like it'd be published right away.

    3) Who said anything about an encyclopedia? Book 0's are the story before the story. You're not describing a book 0.

    @BayView It's not just a way to input information. It's nice to have all the information that gets explained, but it's a story in it's own right. May limit it to a novella, but it would help explain the original story.
     
  17. KhalieLa
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    KhalieLa It's not a lie, it's fiction. Contributor

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    Allow me to hijack this thread for a moment of utter nonsense.

    Assume if you will, an author has written a series of books 1 to 6. Then the author writes book 0. If the writer then writes a sequel to the prequel, it's book 1/2. But, if the writer writes a prequel to the prequel, would it be book -1?

    A series that expands is opposite directions works if the story is liniar, with book 7 possibly being followed by book -2. But, what if your story takes a turn and you need to add a Y-axis or a Z-axis? How would you number books then? (book 4, -2, 7.5)

    Would we have to include "plot points"?
     
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  18. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Actually, no. Not really. The Hobbit was written and published before LOTR. So technically, LOTR is a sequel! :)

    Some people read LOTR first and then read The Hobbit. I wasn't one of them. I read The Hobbit first. I was startled at the change in tone between the two books. I think that happened in reverse for people who read LOTR first, then went back and read The Hobbit. While I was mesmerised by the change in tone, a lot of other people were very disappointed to find that The Hobbit was more or less a children's story. Which is who Tolkien actually wrote The Hobbit for. His own children.

    I believe the Book 0 that people are referring to on this thread is a prequel book written after a book or series, has been published. Either to fill in gaps, or to cash in on the success of the book or series.
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2016
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  19. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    So, where does that put Shakespeare?

    Date Written Play Historical sequence King
    1590 Henry VI, Part II 5 Henry VI/
    1590 Henry VI, Part III 6 Edward IV/
    1591 Henry VI, Part I 7 Henry VI
    1592 Richard III 10 Richard III
    1595 Richard II 2 Richard II
    1596 King John 1 John
    1597 Henry IV, Part I 3 Henry IV
    1597 Henry IV, Part II
    1598 Henry V 4 Henry V
    1612 Henry VIII 12 Henry VIII







    Omitted 9 Edward V


    Omitted 11 Henry VII
     
  20. Wolf Daemon
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    Wolf Daemon Active Member

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    I think, at the risk of being yelled at by children again, that the best way to explore a universe in a prequel (or any book) is to, well, explore it. Make a book that may be more simple on the plot (maybe just a guy or gal trying to get through life in this universe) that allows the readers to get a better view of your story with more interactions between your universe and your characters.

    I hope it helps.
     
  21. KhalieLa
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    KhalieLa It's not a lie, it's fiction. Contributor

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    And now for something completely different:

    Okay, given this, I think we have something to work with.

    If Einstein's Theory of Relativity is applied to basic regression analysis, we can use Shakespeare's data to build a model that could accurately predict where in the space-time continuum an author with non-accelerating sales will produce any given book in a series, regardless of linearity. However, the model will not work for authors with accelerating sales because once you are published, you generate sufficient mass to cause a dimple in the space-time continuum, which causes smaller particles to slowly spiral toward it. In writing, those smaller particles are known as Fan Fiction.

    I now return you to your regularly scheduled thread.
     
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