YA series or one fat novel?

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YA series or one fat novel?

Postby JohnDurvin » 18 Aug 2011, 11:02

I'm working on my American fantasy novel, and I've come to realize that it's getting pretty epic in length, or it will be once the plot's run through. Considering that it's YA, that's probably not a good thing. Now I'm considering turning it into a series and breaking up the plot--but wait! Like a good novel should, its events are linked together, one leading into the other, and a series needs (I'm pretty sure) self-contained plots for each volume. Yes, they collectively form a nice saga, but each book should have a beginning, middle, and end, complete with rising action, a climax, and some sort of resolution, even if it leads to the next one.

Right? Or is there maybe some business I can do using, say, "Part One" and "Part Two" within the one giant tome?

As of now, the Harry Potter series is about all I've got to go on as a model, and I was never too impressed with Rowling's use of plot-coupons, the awesomeness of everything else aside. I'd really like to keep on keeping on with my writing, but I think I might have to take another break and read a few trilogies, at least, to figure out what needs to happen. Anybody have a suggestion for a quick read?
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Re: YA series or one fat novel?

Postby dios4vida » 18 Aug 2011, 11:37

Your understanding of the ideal series, with the self-contained plots and the larger whole, is what agents and editors like to see. It's hard to sell one book that needs more to be complete. However, that rule has been broken on occasion and done so successfully.

For YA fantasy series recommendations, one of my favorites is Percy Jackson. Each book has its own plot, but the series has its whole epic battle. Michael Scott's The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel is one big story, with little in the way of individual plotlines. The last book (#6) is due out next year. Each of those series has several books, but they're quick reads.
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Re: YA series or one fat novel?

Postby maybegenius » 18 Aug 2011, 11:49

For a debut author, yeah, each book should have some sort of self-contained plot. The trend with YA trilogies seems to be the first novel feels pretty complete, and then the SEQUEL is a little more liberal with the cliffhanger endings and dangling plot threads, because if they're publishing a sequel, they're already reasonably confident it will sell.

It's okay to leave larger plot threads unexplored as long as they don't end up as glaring plot holes, but overall the first book should be able to stand on it's own. There's absolutely no guarantee that a publisher will pick up the second book. They may not offer a two-or-three book deal until they're sure the first one is selling. We hear a lot about new authors getting big ol' three book deals right out of the gate, but we don't really hear about the people who just get their first picked up, which is far more frequent.

Plus, I've been hanging out around WriteOnCon all week, and some of the agents/editors in the live chats have mentioned that there's a bit of "trilogy fatigue" going on in YA right now. That doesn't mean they won't still buy trilogies, it just means that they may be on the lookout for more stand-alones.

Really, this is a hard question. You can't have a massive, doorstopper-esque final draft and expect agents to bite, but you also can't expect them to be okay with signing a trilogy right out of the gate. I suppose your best bet is to figure out how to make the plot of your first book stand on its own, but still have sequel potential. Good luck! This stuff is always so hard.
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Re: YA series or one fat novel?

Postby CharleeVale » 18 Aug 2011, 12:00

Nathan always says to write however much it takes to make it work.

I don't think that you should break up your book just because that's what lots of authors are doing. If you feel that it works better as one volume, write it that way. If it is necessary to turn it into a series later, that can be done, but I wouldn't worry about it now.

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Re: YA series or one fat novel?

Postby dios4vida » 18 Aug 2011, 12:12

CharleeVale wrote:Nathan always says to write however much it takes to make it work.

I don't think that you should break up your book just because that's what lots of authors are doing. If you feel that it works better as one volume, write it that way. If it is necessary to turn it into a series later, that can be done, but I wouldn't worry about it now.

CV


Charlee's got a good point. You never know exactly how many pages a plotline will take to come to fruition until you've written it all. And with edits, filling in holes, getting rid of extraneous details, it could be drastically different than projections, first draft length, etc. Doing justice to the story is priority number one - figuring out what to do with it comes after all of that.

Thanks for the reminder, Charlee. :)
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Re: YA series or one fat novel?

Postby polymath » 18 Aug 2011, 13:00

At the very core of a short fiction, a stand-alone novel, a saga, a series, or a franchise there's one overriding facet that defines their respective lengths. That is the magnitude of the main dramatic complication.

Fixing the complications a flat tire presents are comparatively low in magnitude for most people today. Ending the Cold War, epic magnitude, at least.

The complication young adult debut authors encounter is marketability, as do all writers. The debut happens if the product is marketable. So, yes, an introduction is in order to test out the market appeal of any given franchised narrative. Some franchise introductions take place in the digest markets with short stories. Others with comparatively short novels or novellas. Others with franchises right out of the box. Marketability still comes down to the style, craft, and voice of the narrative, no matter the length or the reputation of the writer.

Trilogies and other long fiction anthologies, anthology in the sense of thematic relevance: hexology, septology, octology, decology, etc., have strong setting, plot, idea, character, event, and discourse coherence. SPICED. It is the antagonism axis of plot that most presents accessibly. Antagonism's dual identity being purpose and complication. There's where a main dramatic complication comes into play. A protagonist has a purpose, and complications impede it. Without complication there is no plot. It's comparatively easy anymore to find food for most people. Drive to the store, spend some money, take the purchase home, Barb's your aunt. Not much complication. Finding food for a significant fraction of humanity is a high magnitude complication though.

Idea, that's theme in all its glory. Theme is the unifying force of narrative. Without thematic relevance a narrative is likely to have a happenstance chance plot. Something happens in the beginning, something else happens in the middle, something else happens in the ending, all to no meaningful end. Causation with thematic relevance is what ties events together. Fixing a flat tire isn't much more complicated than finding food. But it can be for even experienced vehicle operators, and then probably will have fallout effects that cause more relevant complications.

For micro fiction, short fiction, creative nonfiction, a stand-alone novel or a franchise, the main dramatic complication must be finalized by the end. There's no exceptions, one of the sole absolutes of narrative. Readers will stand for no less.

However, effective franchises have an immediate, comparatively lower magnitude complication that is finalized in each installment, respectively, and a larger magnitude complication looming in the background that soars to the forefront and isn't finalized until the ending of the franchise. Voldemort is more or less finalized in the first Potter installment but resurrected in the second. Bilbo's complication is finalized in The Hobbit. Frodo's complication is the main dramatic complication of the larger saga.
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Re: YA series or one fat novel?

Postby Sommer Leigh » 19 Aug 2011, 05:46

Coming from a reader's standpoint, when I read a series and there's no satisfying conclusion at the end of the book, I become very testy and disappointed. Especially when I know I have to wait more than a year to find out what happens next. I just hate that. I like big arcs that require several books to fulfill, but I also need some closure with each book.

My husband teaches English to high school seniors and has a huge class library that kids borrow from all the time. Most of his kids aren't big readers, but the ones who are really gravitate to series. They also gravitate away from the really long books. They find them intimidating and relate long books to being automatically boring. They also have no faith in themselves, "I can't read all that" is a popular sentiment. The series the kids like to check out: The Ranger's Apprentice, The Forest of Hands and Teeth, Blood Ninja, and the Vladamir Todd series.
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Re: YA series or one fat novel?

Postby MattLarkin » 19 Aug 2011, 11:26

I think it is better to have some kind of conclusion even in a continuing series. If you're on book #5 out of 6, you can get away with more non-conclusion stuff, of course.
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