1. antihero.zero
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    antihero.zero New Member

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    Writing A Trilogy

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by antihero.zero, May 11, 2010.

    I've been working on a trilogy of books for awhile in the sci-fi/superhero genre, and there is absolutely no way I can resolve all my plot points in a single self-contained first novel. There is certainly a clear resolution of some events in the first novel outlined so far, but more questions arise than are answered. I'm concerned that because I cannot write a self-contained book, as has been advised in other threads, that this will hurt my ability to publish. Does this mean I should attempt to submit all three books at once to an agent, instead of a single incomplete plot in a series of books?

    Thanks For the Advice,
    Antiherozero
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    No. Save the trilogy and continue to polish it, but write a single novel to make your debut as a published author.

    The exception would be if you can write the first volume of your trilogy as a stand-alone novel. De-emphasize the open questions and put the focus on a storyline you can resolve at the close of the novel. You will need to do the same with your second novel as well.

    Keep your trilogy loose, uncoupled, so a reader can read any of the three volumes in isolation.

    A new aothor is a risk to a publisher, and they will not want to compound that risk to a trilogy. If you become an author with a track record of success, you'll be in a better position to sell a more tightly coupled trilogy.
     
  3. antihero.zero
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    antihero.zero New Member

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    Fair enough. Then my next question becomes, how much plot resolution is enough?

    The basic premise is that the protagonist ends up getting double-crossed at the end of the first book, and sent to his death. Where I intended to end the book was the revelation of this double-crossing, and the knowledge that the protagonist's friend is killed because of it. The book was supposed to end with the protagonist experiencing this revelation and vowing to get revenge on the antagonist because of it.
     
  4. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    What you need for a self-contained novel is a complete story arc. There can be openings for the story to continue with the characters/world created. But a cliffhanger--such as a double-cross leading to a death sentence for a MC right at the end of the first book, would not, as I see it, qualify as self-contained.

    Is it impossible to sell a trilogy right out of the box? No. But it's harder than selling a stand-alone novel, and for a first time author, it's difficult alreadyenough to sell that first novel as it is, without adding an additional hurdle.

    Terry
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I don't see that working in this genre unless you switch the roles of the protagonist (Abel) and antagonist (Cain): Cain finds himeslf increasingly at odds with Abel, and reluctantly is forced to eventually try to kill his best friend.

    Then in the second book, you switch roles, and the reader comes to understand Abel's point of view as he is compelled to avenge his best friend's death (and perhaps deals with the darkness within - vengeance is not a worthy motivation for a true hero).

    Having your protagonist fail at the end of the first book is not a good ending in this genre. I'd also leave out that he killed the wrong target. Leave that for the beginning of the sequel.
     
  6. antihero.zero
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    antihero.zero New Member

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    Thanks, I appreciate all the feedback immensely.

    It only took me about 30-mins of thought on the subject before I came up with a working alternative for the end of the first book. I'm just going to shift the plot back a little from the original ending I had in mind, and leave the double-crossing revelation for the beginning of book 2.
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    listen to cog and terry... they're right, on all counts!
     
  8. erik martin
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    erik martin Contributing Member

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    I'm in a similar situation as yours - I just finished (well, the second draft at least) the first novel that I'm going to try and get published. I see it as being the first of four, but I took pains to see that the book could stand on its own.
     
  9. Cardboard Tube Knight
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    Cardboard Tube Knight Member

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    I am kind of in the same boat, my characters are geared up for multiple novels but you have to sell that first one first. One of my alternative ideas has just been to contain more in the first book. By all means the first draft wasn't THAT long. (81,000 words) and it will be slightly longer in the second draft form but I could possibly add more to the plot so that its resolved further.

    Thing is, that my novel ended with the revelation of another antagonist. He just awakens and briefly sees some of the characters from afar.
     
  10. Northern Phil
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    Northern Phil Active Member

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    If you want advice on how to write a good trilogy or series of books then you're best bet would be to look at the Harry Potter series.

    All the books seem to revolve on two main story arcs. The first being that at some point Harry will have to fight Voldemort. This is explained through all the books and there are little references in all of them that lead to this.

    The second story arc is always opened and resolved within that novel. It leaves the reader engaged and satisfied with the ending.

    You will have to follow a similar path if you want to get published.
     
  11. Mantha Hendrix
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    Mantha Hendrix Contributing Member

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    Although, if someone was to only read the first book, with no knowledge of the other books, then one could easily think it was stand alone. The first three are all kind of stand alone in my opinion.

    I think this is an example of... I'm not exactly sire how to word it. Sucking up to the publisher.
     
  12. Northern Phil
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    Northern Phil Active Member

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    That's true, as a first time writer you will have to suck up to a publisher.

    You see this in crime and thriller books quite a lot where the writer will introduce a detective who will solve a grisly case and then close the story with a thrilling end. Only if it has commercial success will be the writer be allowed to have another novel published, in this situation it is quite easy to bring back the same characters and have another grisly case with the detective.

    Hopefully if you continue to have repeated success then the publisher may be willing to try publishing some experimental work.
     
  13. Mantha Hendrix
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    Mantha Hendrix Contributing Member

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    You can still slip plot points in here or there that could be developed, so that the next installation can be seamless. I just wouldn't end on a big cliffhanger.
     
  14. Haribo Icecream
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    Haribo Icecream Member

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    With a trilogy, I think it's best to make sure each part can work as a stand-alone, coz y'never know if someone will pick up say part 2. You wouldn't want them to be lost!!
     
  15. TheStrawman
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    TheStrawman New Member

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    First off: Howdy do!

    While this question is answered above, I thought I would throw my own two-cents.

    It seems like you want to write about 'something' continuously. You are either attracted to the world, the characters, or the over plot. And that attraction causes you to write more. This is an awesome thing.

    For the first book, it should be almost completely contained. Especially if it's your first publication. You can have some strands (some! not many) open, but have at least an entire 'story' reach its completion at the end of the book. Tight writing means a good wrap-up at the end. Maybe the one character is betrayed, but another one finally reaches that goal they were wanting (take Star Wars: Empire for an example). There is a resolution. A starting place and an ending place. When you write the next book, even though it’s a Trilogy, there should be a new starting place and a new ending place.

    If the book really is too large to wrap up, then my suggestion is cut some parts. Maybe move the story forward a bit, skipping some introduction (I have always liked books that put you right in the action). But if you have a 'massive' story in mind, try and warp it so there can be resolution.

    This is what I would do. Now, if you almost want to go for a 'pulp' feel, having a cliffhanger along the lines of "What will happen to Buckaroo Bonzai now! Find out next time!" There might be a market for that. It would be harder to do 'well' and still give a resolution to the readers, but it might be accomplishable.

    That’s all I got to say. Thread caught my interest!

    Peace.
     
  16. twopounder
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    Is there a reason to write a trilogy? I know it's all the rage now and every author seems to want to have three or more 800 page tomes. Honestly, I avoid stories that require more than one book as much as humanly possible. If you are set on writing multiple books attached to the same characters or world, I would recommend doing something akin to disc world, where each story can stand on its own and is very light hearted.

    Trilogies (actually, shouldn't you be concerned with the first book and a hopeful sequel instead of a full trilogy?) require years of preparation, plot exposition, character development, setting development etc. Creating enough content to span 3 volumes is no simple task, and most writers can easily fit their content into a single book.

    If you absolutely must write in trilogy format, then write the entire trilogy first and submit it. Let the publisher cut it up and market it. Otherwise, you're selling half a car and promising the rest will follow.
     
  17. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Not every author or writer works the same way - I have written 3 books and a Novella to at least first draft stage, (1 is young adult and around 60K, one is 80k and the other 95K) in a year of writing. Admittedly I am rewriting the first with the knowledge I have gained this year.

    The world I have created is capable of sustaining many - however my advice is just write, the Socrates and Nate trilogy I had planned turned into two completely seperate standalone books, one has spawned the potential for a spy series and the other for a time travel series. Because the time travel book is set one-hundred and thirty years after my YA and spy story - there is a lot of history that has happened and stories to be written in between. Like how one exiled King got his throne back etc

    With fantasy I personally found it very hard to create a detailed world and then only write one book about it, its like being an explorer and travelling round a whole new exciting place - I have a gazillion ideas I now want to explore like how did Uncle Tom and the Abbot become a couple, how were Lucinda and Izanami (my devil and Eve created), Where did Gil come from etc and I want to work out how the elementals orginally fell and how they were restored etc A book with King Lukas as king rather than the dead evil influence would be interesting. Maybe one set in the other countries. Oh and I want to explore what happened when Merlin married my Crown Princess.
     
  18. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    most agents and publishers will ignore queries for more than one book at a time... so the first query a new and unknown writer sends out must be for a stand alone book, if s/he hopes to snag either an agent or a publisher...

    and publishers will not do the cutting up for you!... if you query for [or submit] a huge ms that needs to be divided into 2 or 3 books, it'll only make it to the round file...
     

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