1. Florent150
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    Florent150 Member

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    Splitting up novels (handling a trilogy)

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Florent150, Feb 17, 2011.

    I hear a lot that in a good trilogy/saga, a reader should be able to pick up any individual book and have a blast reading it. But then people talk about the Lord of the Rings trilogy for example and say that it's basically one long book split into three for commercial reasons at the publishing side of things.

    What I'm wondering is how self-contained an individual book in a trilogy or more should be, and what is expected by audiences and critics. I'm talking more about the formula of the book's tempo and drama.

    I've been writing a futuristic epic fantasy for a while now. It's essentially a long story that, like the lord of the rings, I figured from the start I would have to split into three books because one book that large wouldn't swing well with publishers especially for a non-published author. However, if I did this, each book wouldn't have the typical formula of its own real climax.

    In the Harry Potter books, in every installment the book itself seems to revolve around building up for its own unique and individual drama at the end. With the story I'm writing at the moment, the whole story behaves like this as a whole (based on the layout I've got at the moment). Unless I changed things, any splitting would mean that each book wouldn't do this. I would have big moments at the end of each book and keep a lot of questions flowing, but it wouldn't be like each book is prepairing for its own ending, and they wouldn't wrap themselves up, if you know what I mean?

    This fits in to the process of trying to sell the story to agents and publishers. I've been told that querying agents and mentioning series' is a bad idea, and that you should go with individual books. Wouldn't an agent point out that an apparent standalone book doesn't have it's own real build up to a climax?

    I havn't read all three LOTRs books, so how do these flow? The Final Fantasy stories are a good example of something like this too. Each disk ends with drama and emotions and opens questions, but each one begins more or less where it left off and the only real ending is at the end of the last disk.

    Thanks :D
     
  2. guamyankee
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    guamyankee Contributing Member

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    I've heard just the opposite, that books with sequel potential are good. I'd say don't worry about any of this until you get at least 80,000 words. Just tell your tale, then decide how to split it up later.
     
  3. guamyankee
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    guamyankee Contributing Member

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    Or should I say show your tale.
     
  4. Spring Gem
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    Spring Gem Member

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    In the case of Lord of The Rings, it was written to be published as one book. The reason it was split was because the cost of paper in the post WWII era would have made the price of a single book outrageously expensive. LOTR is written in 6 parts called "books" so it was split into 2 "books" for each published volume with the appendix added to the third one.

    Here is an essay on Ordering to the Net, one reason it is so hard for a new novelist to sell a series, especially the one long book type.
     
  5. Silver_Dragon
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    Silver_Dragon Senior Member

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    As I understand it, the issue isn't that publishers don't like books which are part of a planned series...they just don't want to contract or buy an entire series before they know that the first book will sell. Sequel potential probably isn't a bad thing at all. Most epic fantasy novels do work up to some kind of climactic moment in each book, but I don't think a first novel would need to be as standalone as one of the Harry Potter books in order to interest a publisher.
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    totally!... the reason being many readers/bookbuyers won't read them all and/or in in sequence...

    and, as noted by others above, publishers won't buy a whole series from a new, unknown writer, so the first has to sell well as a 'single' before they'll risk taking on your 'sequels'...
     

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