Series Novels: Why should the first one have to stand alone?

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Re: Series Novels: Why should the first one have to stand alone?

Post by Margo » August 13th, 2010, 11:07 am

Heather B wrote:All these points are a lot to think about but I agree with Mira on writing something how it is meant to be written.
This is going to be a very unpopular comment. My writing got dramatically better when I stopped believing my projects had a 'meant to be' form, a blueprint originating beyond me, a Platonic life of their own. The idea had me following the book around like it knew where to go and I didn't. It was almost impossible to explore radical plotting alternatives because of some sense that it might diverge from what the book was 'meant to be'. I knew what the industry wanted, but I kept vearing off because the book wanted to be something else. After I stopped investing in that belief, the reins came off (me) and I no longer hesitated to alter plot and character dramatically if a better idea came along. I was building instead of following. It was liberating.

There is another thread on the forum about the difference between what a writer wants to write when they sit down and what actually comes out and the distress of not being able to get the two to match. I don't have nearly the problem with this I had with the 'meant to be' model.

Even less popular comment: Sometimes metaphysics is a study in relieving one of personal power and responsibility.
Urban fantasy, epic fantasy, and hot Norse elves.

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Re: Series Novels: Why should the first one have to stand alone?

Post by Meghan » August 15th, 2010, 1:14 pm

Margo wrote:I don't expect the industry/readers to conform to my personal needs.
When I said that the book must be written the was it was meant to be, I only meant that it is not always best to know how the story will end up. It is good to be surprised by what happens in the novel. By allowing yourself to be surprised by what your characters do, you and your readers will have a greater experience.

It is true that you should not always give in to your own whims for the story and complying with what the industry wants will help to sell books, but if we all conform to what everyone else wants nothing new can be created.

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Re: Series Novels: Why should the first one have to stand alone?

Post by Mira » August 15th, 2010, 3:12 pm

Meghan, it seems like you and I (and Heather) are taking a different approach on this. I believe there is a book that is 'meant to be written.' For me, I do see that as spiritual - I often feel there is a spiritual component to writing for me - quite a deep one, actually.

For those who don't feel that spiritual dimension, I think there is still a book that is the exact right match for what the author is trying to say through the book.

I also think the publishing industry is not the ultimate authority on what will sell to readers. But if you want to sell it to them, just know that if you write the book that is right for you, you may or may not be able to sell it to the industry right away. If you can't, you can either e-publish, or write another book that is more sellable to them. That's if you're writing to sell. Not everyone is.

But if you are, there's no reason to try to publish any particular book in any particular order. I say: write the books the way they are meant to be written, which means they will truly reflect your best work, and then decide for yourself what is the most marketable at any given time.

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Re: Series Novels: Why should the first one have to stand alone?

Post by Ishta » August 15th, 2010, 11:10 pm

I think it's important to look at this from the publisher's perspective, too. If they're not sure how well your first book will sell, they won't want to give you a contract for a series. And if they publish your book and it doesn't sell well, AND it doesn't stand alone (as in, it leaves readers wondering where everything is going to go and it feels incomplete), then they won't want to publish the next one, but at the same time, their name is on something that feels unfinished. If I were a publisher, I wouldn't want that.

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Re: Series Novels: Why should the first one have to stand alone?

Post by PaulWoodlin » August 16th, 2010, 9:47 am

I recently finished "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" and at the end of the novel he had resolved the plot's conflict, but not the emotional relationship between the hero and the heroine, thereby having a book that is a stand alone in one sense, but gives you a reason to read the second.

In a trilogy I'm writing right now, a paranormal romance, I'm doing the reverse. Each book finishes an emotional arc, but there is still a Big Bad out there.

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