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Are duos acceptable?

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by The Realm Wanderer, Apr 25, 2011.

  1. The Realm Wanderer

    The Realm Wanderer Troubadour

    My question is basically, is writing a book and only one sequel acceptable for the fantasy genre. I know some people will reply saying there is nothing wrong with writing any amount of books, which of course is true. But that's not what I'm looking for. Most successful fantasy series are either a single book, a trilogy, or more. Rarely are just two books written for a series. So what do you think, is there anything wrong with writing just two books, other than the fact a trilogy just sounds better? haha
  2. Telcontar

    Telcontar Staff Moderator

    Not at all. From a story/plot standpoint, it's whatever is right for the story. If your story is tell well in such and such a length, than there is no use trying to extend or cut it to a different length.

    From a business view, unless you're an already published author, your first book must sell on its own merits. Whether it is the beginning of a long or short series, or no series at all, doesn't matter in the slightest. Also, you may find that - if you're lucky or skilled enough to have written a book that becomes very popular - the series finds itself longer than you expected, now that you know you have a (paying) audience. ;)
  3. Ophiucha

    Ophiucha Auror

    Not really. As long as the first can stand on its own. If anything has worked against the 'duology', it is the fact that they are very often a single book, far too long to publish as is, and hence split into two. As long as your work isn't that, then no, nothing wrong with a duology. It's a rarity, but honestly, probably a bit of a relief to a lot of fantasy fans. I know more than a few who are sick of dedicating decades of their lives to a series because of how long it goes on for.
  4. ade625

    ade625 Scribe

    A duology sounds like a fine idea to me, if it works in the context. My theory is they tend not to be made because people tend to think in terms of three acts, which is how a lot of plays, movies and commercial novels seem to be written. Of course, a lot of fantasy authors blow that theory out of the water by writing four, five or more books in a series.

    Maybe the real reason is that fantasy authors can never stop at two.
  5. GameMasterNick

    GameMasterNick Scribe

    One of the traps of Science Fiction and Fantasy writing is the Saga.

    Once you've written a great novel set in the future, on an alien world or in fantasy or steampunk utopia(dystopia), readers want to go back to that world. They want to spend more and more time there and experience more of the lives and adventures they've grown to love.

    Publishers exist to cater to the readers. (Publishers that forget this become scam artists selling "publishing packages" or books to their own writers. /tangent) What makes the readers happy makes the publisher happy. So, a novelist who writes a breakout story is sure to be asked for sequels and other adventures in line. Standard publisher contracts usually have a clause entitling them to option any sequels based on a work that you've published with them, as well.

    The trap lies in the fact that an author can get to a place where their name is synonymous with the world and saga. Some, like L.E. Modesitt, Jr. don't have a problem with this. Others rebel against it, hard, at the risk of alienating their existing fans... many adopt pseudonyms so that they can write outside of their fictional worlds (or genres!).

    The Three Act (or Five, or Seven) story reasoning has merit, as well. The real question to ask yourself is if the story could be told in just one book. A lot of editing is cutting and condensing, so that only the most amazing and important parts of a tale remain. "Duologies" can usually either be condensed into a stunning single work, or expanded to a trilogy easier than they can stand alone... often due to the fact that the first book (even from previously published authors) must truly stand out to make the readers want more.
  6. myrddin173

    myrddin173 Maester

    I believe that if it is written well enough you can get away with a stand-alone, trilogy, duology, or what-have-you. An example of a duology that just came out recently is Incarceron/Saphique by Catherine Fisher (Both definitely good reads I highly recommend them).
  7. Donny Bruso

    Donny Bruso Sage

    Personally I think that a lot of authors are overreaching themselves trying to write multiple volume sagas. And while that is not a shot at you, TRW, I think it's a valid point that should be considered by any author, published or prospective. So many authors in fantasy have fallen into the trilogy trap, and many of them didn't have more than one book worth of good story to tell.

    I'm sure I'll get yelled at by someone for this, but look at Terry Goodkind. Wizard's First Rule was a solid story. Maybe not overly imaginative, but it had it's ups and downs. He then launched into extending the series by a further eleven books. I got through the first four, and honestly, by the time Temple of the Winds was over, I couldn't wait to put it down. I didn't care anymore. Goodkind squandered any empathy I had with Richard and Kahlan over the three sequels I read, and wasted hours of my life leading up to utterly anti-climactic battles. I have the next two sitting in my bookshelf unread, and don't even feel guilty about it, because there isn't enough story to warrant a series that long.

    Another example is Bob Salvatore, all the Drizzt books are the same story all over again. "Poor me, I'm a drow hated by the world, but I'll save them anyway."

    In the end, it all depends on the quality of the writing. If the writing is so good that it can be extended through fifty books, go for it. But it hasn't been done yet that I'm aware of. Far better to end on a high note and leave your readers wishing for more than to disgust them with the character because you can't think of anything new for that character to do.

    Enjoy your $0.02, try not to spend it all in once place. Cheers
  8. The Realm Wanderer

    The Realm Wanderer Troubadour

    Don't worry Donny, I wasn't reffering to myself trying to write two novels. I'm struggling just trying to get my first written haha :)
    But you didn't really answer what I asked did you?? Understandably, writing a s**t load of books without the actual story to back them up is going to destroy any sort of fanbase you may have acquired from the first novel. However, writing many books was not what I was wondering about. You see many fantasy authors releasing 5, 6, 7 books or more nowadays just because they have stuff left to share with their readers, but I was merely stating that I hardly ever see book series come in twos, and so was simply wondering if there was something that people didn't like about the idea of a duology.
  9. Dr.Dorkness

    Dr.Dorkness Minstrel

    There is nothing wrong with duologies. Look at Karen Miller. She wrote the Kingmaker, Kingbreaker series. Which is a duology and she has more doulogies.

    There are more Killer stories that are duologies. But Like Donny already said, the quality of the story you tell is more important.

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