Friday, August 10, 2007

Acute Sequelitis

Nathan Bransford had a very interesting post today -- here. It started out as a post on self-publishing and turned into a very interesting commentary about sequels. Granted, he was talking about them in the context of self-publishing the first and HOPING a major publishing house will pick up the second, and reprint the first..blah blah blah. He noted the one case of this that _I'm_ aware of.. ERAGON by Christopher Paolini, which -- let's face it -- was a huge exception to the general rule. Lucky duck! :) Maybe there are more, but that taps out my knowledge on the subject.

Anyway, this post got me to thinking about all of us aspiring writers who hope to have series someday. And, really, who can blame us? A series means that we can remain with our characters in the world we've created -- it means people are reading and enjoying the stories we're weaving -- it means (let's hope) a steady writing gig and income. Nothing wrong with that.

I think his advice applies to people going the traditional route as well as those who self-publish. In fact, I found myself in this situation last year. I finished FAKING IT and _immediately_ began book 2. Then, when those pesky rejections started pouring in, I suffered a HUGE jolt to my self-confidence. What was I doing writing book 2, if I couldn't get book 1 picked up? On top of that, what was I doing thinking about books 3...and 4...and 5...etc?

At that point, I said... okay, I need to work on _something_ else. That brought about BY THE PALE MOONLIGHT, which is guess what? TADA -- another series. Not in a, book 1 stands on its own and answers every question kind of way, but in a...there NEEDS to be a second book to finish this story...maybe even a third.

(Sidenote: Boy am I glad to see this is actually done in today's market! In fact, A GREAT AND TERRIBLE BEAUTY by Libba Bray employed a similar concept -- rock on. (g))

Am I crazy?? Wait! Don't answer that! lol.

I don't know if there's a question that needs to be answered here -- I'm mostly just thinking aloud. (g) It's just that I've seen a lot of people (myself included) who have such BIG dreams when it comes to series -- we've worked out individual plots for each book -- we've weaved a plot arc that spans over the books, tying them all together, making the series contingent upon such and such in book 2... or this character needs to be introduced in book 1 because they'll be back in book 4... so on and so forth. LOL.

Are we setting ourselves up for a huge letdown? I mean, how many series really get picked up? What are the odds?

This topic really sprang to mind tonight because I had a little epiphany about a pivotal scene in _book 4_ of the Narc series. I've got it all planned out, folks. (g) I think if I wrote down all the possible ideas I have, I would have enough for at least 8 books AND a prequel. That's a whole lotta ideas hinging on my selling book 1.

One thing I refuse to do, though... While I have a lot of ideas and can probably even describe the antags in each book -- I'm NOT going there yet. I won't be plotting out the stories in full and I won't be giving them titles. If I'm graced with the opportunity to write a series, there will be plenty of time to think about those books. For now, I'm gonna write whatever strikes me -- because (hopefully) one of them will pan out.


Carol said...

Hi Jen,

Very wise thinking. Sure, keep the ideas flowing, and scribble notes down for future books, but concentrate on the one in hand.

Great advice.

Jen said...


Glad that gobbledygook made sense to you. (g) Late night ramblings. LOL.

But yes, I think it's wiser to move on to something else rather than concentrate fully on a make it or break it series. I mean, it's a classic "don't put all of your eggs in one basket" scenario.

Of course, I can't fault a person for wanting to -- Lord knows _I_ want to...but heyzeus -- imagine writing more than a book or two and NOT having them picked up. How heartbreaking! True, sometimes you have to write what speaks to you, but unfortunately, writing IS a business too. (Ick -- never thought I'd say that LOL).

Reality, though.