HOW TO DECIDE NOT TO WRITE A SERIES
The last post explained why I enjoy writing trilogies. This post will explain the disadvantages.
I refer to it as the curse of the trilogy. Many people feel locked into a trilogy, especially if you feel that there is enough for two novels, but not really for three.
The curse of the trilogy is the invisible hand that makes you try to squeeze the juices out of an apple that has already been juiced. There’s nothing left, and all you get is a dry and starchy pulp.
I did not begin my completed trilogy, The Pioneers, with the intention of writing three books, so the first book ends, and the ending is complete. It’s not like The Lord of the Rings where Frodo has still not gotten to Mordor.
This is a great way to write because it makes sure that each book is complete. However, the series that I am currently working on will not have books that end as terminally as each of the books in The Pioneers.
So now I have to make sure that the conflict that begins in book 1 is strong enough to be stretched out over two more books.
This is a huge challenge, and it can become overwhelming for many authors, including me.
What happens is that things either become predictable, or they become too outrageous, because as the writer, we feel compelled to make each book more compelling than the previous.
That’s not a bad goal to have, but I read something that helped me to stay on track for the second two books in The Pioneers.
One blogger mentioned that whenever you are writing a trilogy, remember that book 2 and book 3 will be read because the readers want to see a similar format as what was written in book 1, so the way that events unfold should be similar, even though those events will be unique.
For instance, there are things that must remain consistent. Sherlock Holmes should always be the witty private investigator that he is. To change that is to alter the series.
Readers want to see more of that as he solves different cases. What readers don’t want to see is your main character struggling with the same challenges that have been resolved from before, unless you are writing these issues as resurgences of an unshakable past.
The reason that The Godfather Part 3 is so terrible is not because they waited so long to make it. No. It’s because we were used to subtle mafia and powerful turns that made the Don seem untouchable.
But someone felt that bigger is better, so they decided to attack the Catholic Church, making Don Corrleone go beyond his reach. Not only that. Vincent Corleone, a hot-headed gunslinger, takes over as the new Don which is so unrealistic because of how little he listened to reason.
Godfather 3 wasn’t a bad movie, it just wasn’t what we expected from The Godfather, so Godfather 3 failed.
Thanks for stopping by. We are going to continue with the series conversation for the next post.
Another great post! Some books are not meant to be stretched out into a trilogy or series. This can also be applied to short stories and novellas. When a book is done, it’s done.
That’s so true, Sara. Some people like their characters so much that they do them the injustice of telling another story that the characters are not prepared to handle.