A term I hadn't heard before... "Mega Novels"

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Thread: A term I hadn't heard before... "Mega Novels"

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    Member Guard Dog's Avatar
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    A term I hadn't heard before... "Mega Novels"

    This article popped up on on my news page:

    George R.R. Martin contemplates literary form, the Hugos, and the final two Song of Ice and Fire books

    I found it interesting that he seemed to be coining a term for something that's been around for a long time, and that I've inadvertently found myself in the middle of; telling a story that covers several volumes.

    I can think of several series I've read that were just that, and have seen quite a few movies that were the same.

    Anyway, no question here really, just thought I'd bring the article to people's attention, and see what their thoughts were on it.

    Who knows? Might stir up an interesting conversation.




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    Global Moderator velo's Avatar
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    I can't say I disagree. I've always thought of LotR as a single story, same with GoT (easier acronym). You really can't read the Two Towers or A Storm of Swords as stand-alone novels. That being said I'm not sure there's much discussion to be had about it...the point he's making is pretty obvious and I guess we've all realised it without putting a specific name to it.
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    I suppose the only real question is how many, if anyone, sets out to do that on purpose.

    Or is it usually a case where, like myself, people just find themselves entangled in a story that just won't fit into one volume?

    I mean, given where I find myself these days, I can't imagine anybody in their right mind doing it on purpose.

    Leaving a novel open-ended so you can continue later on, if you choose? Sure.

    Planning something out that could take several novels to wrap up?

    Seems incredibly ambitious at best, poor planning at worst.

    ( At his age, George could end up not living long enough to finish the story... Especially if he doesn't knock it off with the interviews and other 'extracurricular activities' and focus on writing. )


    G.D.
    Leave it be and it won't bother you.
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    Soon enough, nations will play second fiddle to corporations.

    "The world is not what we wish it to be; it is what it is."
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  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Guard Dog View Post
    I suppose the only real question is how many, if anyone, sets out to do that on purpose.

    Or is it usually a case where, like myself, people just find themselves entangled in a story that just won't fit into one volume?

    I mean, given where I find myself these days, I can't imagine anybody in their right mind doing it on purpose.
    I don't think many people do it on purpose, no. As you mention, there's little to be gained from setting out to write an excessively long book.

    I think there's probably an argument to be made that some stories just can't fit into a single, conventional-length manuscript. ASOIAF is obviously an example of that.

    I suspect what usually happens is a writer comes up with an idea, a story, and then that story introduces themes/characters/settings that they wish to further explore. Sometimes in that story or just as often in another subsequent one, which would then be the 'mega novel'. LOTR is that - an idea created from writing the (far shorter) Hobbit then developed.
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    Member Guard Dog's Avatar
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    Thanks 'Scars.

    No, I don't find much to be gained... Unless you really want to be an author, and want to get a good portion of the work over with all at once.

    I don't.

    ...still, the really painful part - the editing it into what you imagine - is always gonna be there to be done.

    The story I'm currently writing ( Transcribing, actually ) is one that just grew out of control.

    So is that really how these things get started, as a rule? Or does it tend to come later, once the first part is finished, and it's discovered that there's more to follow... more to come?

    That's the part I'm curious about.


    G.D.
    Leave it be and it won't bother you.
    Screw with it, and it'll eat you alive.

    Soon enough, nations will play second fiddle to corporations.

    "The world is not what we wish it to be; it is what it is."
    "Freedom is the value, not protection."

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Guard Dog View Post
    Thanks 'Scars.

    No, I don't find much to be gained... Unless you really want to be an author, and want to get a good portion of the work over with all at once.

    I don't.

    ...still, the really painful part - the editing it into what you imagine - is always gonna be there to be done.

    The story I'm currently writing ( Transcribing, actually ) is one that just grew out of control.

    So is that really how these things get started, as a rule? Or does it tend to come later, once the first part is finished, and it's discovered that there's more to follow... more to come?

    That's the part I'm curious about.


    G.D.
    I think it happens in a variety of ways. Some authors have an idea for a book and once they get into it they realize the story is too big for a single volume. Others realize going in that the story is going to be 'mega' in nature. That's what happened with Stephen King's Dark Tower saga. He had the idea while he was in college, and even started work on The Gunslinger before he realized he didn't have the writing chops yet to do the tale justice, so he put it on the back burner and worked on it as his career and skills developed. It's becoming far more common for the mega-stories to be published as audiences have developed a taste for them and a willingness to wait between books. 40 years ago, it was common advice for hopeful writers to not think in terms of stories that are several volumes long. "Make sure your book can stand alone," was what we were told. That's starting to change, but you still hear it in the industry. That's okay by me, I'm not a fan of mega-novels. I've never even completed The Dark Tower books, and I'm a big fan of King. My wife, on the other hand, likes the megas. Her favorite books are Diana Gabaldon's, Outlander novels. If you can tap that market you are in good shape, but a lot of time can be wasted on a mega-novel that may never find a readership. I know that's not your goal, but it's something for writers looking to be published to consider.
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Terry D View Post
    I think it happens in a variety of ways. Some authors have an idea for a book and once they get into it they realize the story is too big for a single volume. Others realize going in that the story is going to be 'mega' in nature.
    Many years ago, my first wife got me started reading Piers Anthony's Xanth series. The first one was written in 1977, and I think the last one I read was published in 1996 or so.

    He'd already written around 20 books in that series at that time, and I think there's 41 books in the series now, with the last one published in 2017. ( I just checked, and apparently there's 4 more planned. )

    From what I understand, Anthony had in mind for the series to be a trilogy originally, but when the first 3 did so well, expanded it to 9.

    He claims that the fans persuaded him to keep it going, and that now Xanth books are about all publishers want out of him.

    I guess there are worse traps to be caught in, as a writer, but I have a hard time imagining what they might be.

    It's gotta get old, having to keep coming up with new and different stuff for one 'world', for that long. Especially given how strange that particular one is.

    Alan Dean Foster's Spellsinger series is another that's basically one long story, but he at least held that one down to 8 books, between 1983 and 1994.

    I've always liked the longer series, myself, but somewhere after about a dozen books, I start to lose interest.



    G.D.
    Last edited by Guard Dog; February 8th, 2019 at 11:14 PM.
    Leave it be and it won't bother you.
    Screw with it, and it'll eat you alive.

    Soon enough, nations will play second fiddle to corporations.

    "The world is not what we wish it to be; it is what it is."
    "Freedom is the value, not protection."

  8. #8
    Member Bardling's Avatar
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    Sequels and shared worlds aren't quite the same as a mega novel. LOTR is a mega novel. There is little to no space between the books, and little to no recapping or rehashing of events. Stephen King's Gunslinger series is not quite that tightly structured. The first book at least can be read alone, and each book makes sure to introduce the characters to readers in their own right.

    They are similar, but not quite the same thing.

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