What's making to write a saga/trilogy so difficult?

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  1. #1

    What's making to write a saga/trilogy so difficult?

    What’s making to write a series (or trilogy) so difficult? I mean, many authors made it well. But the most authors write one book. – Even if their idea would be good for a trilogy. Is the conflict? Are the characters bad? I don’t know. But let’s talk about.

  2. #2
    I have talked to other writers who have published series of books, and they all agree that each successive sequel is harder than the last to write.
    I think it is a combination of elements;
    1) You have become endeared to the characters and hate to put them in danger.
    2) The world you have written becomes more and more concrete with each sequel. With the first book the world was entirely fluidic and you could make it anything you want. But by the 3rd book it is a very well defined world.



    I pulled out all my hair on a 4 novel series.
    I dunno how JK Rowling did a 7 book series, especially with the whole world breathing down her neck the whole time.
    No stress, right?
    Last edited by Ralph Rotten; September 16th, 2018 at 01:55 AM.

  3. #3
    I don't find it difficult at all. All of my things are related, so in essence it's all one big saga. It's the same thing as playing your own music over and over, or acting a part. There are always new permutations to tease out.





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  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Art3mis View Post
    What’s making to write a series (or trilogy) so difficult? I mean, many authors made it well. But the most authors write one book. – Even if their idea would be good for a trilogy. Is the conflict? Are the characters bad?
    I'd say that this is more a matter of profit and loss on the publishing end.

    If a book sells well, the publisher will often encourage the author to turn it into a series (if it isn't already tailored as one).

    If the book struggles, though, it'll probably end there, and the publisher likely won't want to take on any more books —even if the author has already written them.

  5. #5
    I think there can be a challenge in having an overarching conflict that makes the series coherent and satisfying while also finding a conflict for each book that can be wrapped up. It's a structural issues, essentially.

    And then, as for any project, the longer it is, the more the writer has to push to get it done. A single novel can be a long slog, so three novels? Three times as much of a slog.

  6. #6
    Well isn't there also an issue with publishers not wanting to touch anything that can't be a standalone(or is it the agents?). If there's a novel that is going to be extended to at least a duology(if not trilogy) but the first book can't stand by itself because the underlying conflict can't be resolved until the second book then you'd have a series right there obviously. Thing is from research I've done is that any debut novel for a new author that can't be a standalone is practically shunned. Is this still true, because if so then I'll have a heck of a time trying to find anyone to take on my WIP.

  7. #7
    Member MzSnowleopard's Avatar
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    IMO, It depends on what you're doing. Are you writing a series or a collection? The Harry Potter books are a series, a collection would be a group of stories that have commonalities. An example would be Piper Drake's 'True Heroes' set. Sue Grafton's Kinsey Milhone novels cross this line IMO - it's a series and yet each book can stand alone (so is it a series or a collection?)

    Or, are you going for something more along the lines of the YA series / collections like Heartland, Sweet Valley High, etc. Series yes because they deal with the same set of characters but collections because each book is, essentially, a different story not really a continuation.

    I agree with Ralph in that each story that follows becomes increasingly more difficult because of the concrete set to that universe / reality. This is why, I think, evolving the characters is very important. With multiple books, readers want to see characters 'grow up' or change, improve from novel to the next- like we see in Potter. If you're releasing book 3 and the main character is still weak, a push over for bullies- and has not yet stood up for herself- readers will become disgruntled and might not read on to book 4.

    Don't let it discourage you though, my advice would be to look at the works produced in this concept. This advice was given to me and I started looking at collections in line with what I see for my own works- Sweet Valley High came out on top. I grew up reading about the twins and it made sense to me with regards to my own YA collection. So the advice is sound.

    Just my 2 cents
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  8. #8
    It would be akin to Dante's Divine Comedy where Dante goes from one "world" to another without a full resolution until Paradiso. Difference is that the second book for my work would serve as the resolution, but also keep the door open for a third installment if I felt I had an idea for one.

  9. #9
    My greatest difficulty is with the length of the novels.

    Probably because I spent a good deal of my life designing and developing computer systems I am used to thinking in terms of cyclic processes which drive larger cyclic processes, so in my writing the smaller conflict resolution wheels keep driving the big wheel round until it gets to its destination. Revisiting situations isn't an issue if one can do it from a different point of view. I have even depicted exactly the same scene in two chapters from the points of view of two characters with the actions and dialogue the same but the impressions of the underlying meaning quite different. In fact my original novel is episodic in nature but this repetition of routine events gets the reader used to the environment and allows me to focus on the story alone in later episodes. Hence in the later stages of a saga all the work invested in acclimatising the reader pays off. World building writers fret about initial info dumping but the solution is to introduce the context slowly and evenly and then to hit them with the full impact of the story when they are ready for it, which may not even be in the first novel if one keeps to conventional word counts.

    With my wheels within wheels writing style the reader can perceive a short story which then continues into a novella which in turn evolves into a full length novel and, if I were to disregard conventions, then expands into an oversize novel which, like each of the previous stages, seems to have an ending. However, that would actually only be halfway through the saga and all those wheels can keep on turning without going over the same ground again. Writers actually rely on chaos theory to keep on writing within the same context by introducing relatively small disturbances, such as a new character, into what appears to be a stable situation in order to deflect it in a wildly different direction. In fact a new character may not even be necessary as the simplest eternal triangle story has the inherent complexity of the classic three body problem in physics, that it is very difficult to predict what will happen over a significant length of time.

    Writing a trilogy is no different from any other extended performance. How long can spectators watch a firework display or an ice skating spectacle or an Irish dancing troupe before they lose interest? All of these events are limited by their intrinsic natures just as the world created by a writer is, but it is up to the technician, set designer, choreographer or writer to be as creative as possible within the limitations of their working environment. The key is to decide at an early stage how long the overall performance is to be rather than to add sequels as an afterthought. I had the plot and outline of my trilogy in mind within months of starting to write my first novel, so that novel was simultaneously establishing my credentials as a writer and doing the groundwork for the full trilogy should those credentials justify writing it. In practice I had no immediate ambition to continue my writing beyond that first novel but nevertheless the possibility existed.

    As beta readers my angel and I have both read a partially completed novel by a member here and come to the same conclusion, that he had already finished a compelling story but continued to develop a further one within that one novel. We advised him to expand the first story to novel length and treat the follow-on story as a separate novel as otherwise it might not entirely fit within the first. He agreed with this proposal and reviewed his plans.

    If one has serious ambitions to be a writer from the outset then it pays to make long term plans for one's career at an early stage. It costs little to design the outline for a trilogy every time but only write the first novel in it to test how well it is received so that one may have several potential trilogies to hand at any time. It seems likely that this is how seriously writers tend to work anyway.

    The difficulty in writing a trilogy isn't about writing the sequels but the first novel in it. My novel was entitled Never Upon A Time but was also the first book of the trilogy The Hermes Culture, which I will probably never fully write now.
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