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One or multi-volume?

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by skip.knox, Aug 4, 2019.

  1. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    I have a story to tell, based on a true story but with fantasy added in, about a youth who topples a usurper and claims the imperial throne for himself. I've had this story in the queue for some years. It's a great story. Maybe greater than I thought.

    I'm in the planning stage right now, and I am having trouble envisioning how this ends. He gets the throne, triumphs over his rival, then end. But that feels unfinished. He gains the throne *and* what? Rules in peace and harmony? The historical figure (Frederick II Hohenstaufen) certainly didn't.

    There are a score of considerations specific to this story, but a more general question occurs to me. How do you decide if a story is one volume or two or five or ten? I can see it could be arbitrary. Take a group of adventurers and just decide it's going to be six books. Sure.

    I'm more interested in if there are ways people figure out based on the internal dynamics of the story itself.

    This is a challenge when you don't really know those dynamics in detail in the first place, of course. I can see character arc--the different volumes act as waypoints toward some culmination. But heck, we can stretch or shrink that almost at will, can't we? Similarly with plot. I could even see it with theme, or as a way to unfold a world's magic system.

    Right now, it's feeling like plot. I have two major external threats--the Orc Empire, and the Five Kingdoms of the Trolls. So, first volume is that usurper, followed by trolls, then orcs. And behind the scenes, a wizard who believes magicians rather than kings should rule and is willing to bring everything down in flames to achieve that. So there's a kind of Gray Eminence working behind the scenes across the books.

    I could make it one book and leave the orcs and trolls as background. I could make it two books, with the usurper as the first volume and then oh the real villain is that wizard for the second. Trolls and orcs still in the background. It maybe could even be strung out even longer.

    In other words, even though I can point to story-rooted constraints that help an author decide how many volumes, the whole business still feels pretty arbitrary. And I sort of hate thinking that I'm going to architect a story not from its own internal needs but from a decision that I'm going to go four books then stop.

    Thoughts?
     
  2. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

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    When I originally started working on Lost Dogs, it was supposed to be one book.

    It pretty soon became clear to me that this would be a massive undertaking, which would take forever to complete, and which I didn't have the skill to complete well. This is what made me change the format of the story from a single novel to a series of short stories (which later turned into novellas).

    At that point, I'd already tried to start work on the story three times, and I had a pretty good idea of what was going to happen throughout. Thinking about it now, it would probably have been at least a trilogy if I'd tried writing it as a novel.

    So, knowing the story, I sat down and identified a number of events that seemed interesting enough that they could stand alone as their own story. By telling the stories of these events one at a time, and in order, I would eventually have told the entire story I originally wanted to tell.

    In retrospect, I could have planned it out better, and not all of the stories stand well on their own, but I still think the overall idea is sound. I also have the option to group novellas into box-sets to better serve them up as a unit.

    In your case, above, you'll have to know where you want the story to end. Then you can work out how many books it is from there.

    Perhaps start with the usurper first.
    Then one book about the orcs, and one book about the trolls.
    Finally, a book about the wizard.

    You mention keeping stuff in the background, and that's a good thing I think. In the first book, you could let the orcs and trolls be important background elements, and the wizard could be a minor one. Then in the following two books, the orcs and trolls step into the light, and the wizard becomes more prominent.

    In this way, you can build up a lot of stuff relating to the wizard and the final fight. Perhaps he was a good guy in the first book, and a helpful ally in the second?

    There's also the option of adding in even more events throughout if they are interesting or important enough. :)
     
  3. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    >where you want the story to end
    There's the rub. I don't have any particular place, except that I want it to be the right place. All I think I know at this point is that one book feels unfinished. It comes about this way.

    This is the story of Frederick, whose parents died when he was little and another fellow (Otho) moved in and got himself elected Emperor, all when Fritz was too young to do anything about it. Indeed, he had quite the colorful childhood down in Palermo. When he turned eighteen, Fritz was elected Emperor by a faction and he decided to go seal the deal in person. No money, no army, few friends.

    So far, good story bro. But it turns out that Otho wasn't much of an adversary. If I show him as incompetent, then Fritz's victory is little more than an anticlimax, so it's time to juggle history a bit.

    In Real Earth there was another player (several, but let's pretend just one for now)--Pope Innocent III. Emperors and popes had long argued over who was boss, and Innocent was a strong proponent of papal supremacy. Altearth has no Christianity (minor Eastern sect), but I hit on the idea of having wizards play a similar role. International organization. And I could have a character who was convinced of the supremacy of mages. Great!

    But that's where the one volume approach got complicated. I *could* have Fritz uncover the wizard's dirty dealing and bring him to justice all in one volume. Or I could string it out. The plot lines alone don't seem to demarcate clearly how many books it would take to tell this. And that's what got me thinking about how others make this decision.

    The tricky part, it seems to me, isn't so much one volume or a series. That would be fairly easy. Trickier is, two books? Four? Five? Six? Where are the delimiters on this For..Next loop?

    You said you identified "a number" of events and, presumably, thereby identified the number of separate publications. Let's say you identified eleven. How come not twelve or nine? Or was it more a case of "here's all the ones I can identify, so I guess that's how many I'll write."?
     
  4. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

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    I might have been a bit unclear. It was the latter case: These are the ones I can identify, so these are the books I will write (13 in total).
    I feel like deciding on the number of books to write before I know how much content I have to put in them is a little backwards.
    Also, at that time I was still thinking in terms of short stories, and in light of that, 13 stories doesn't seem like that much. I expected the project to take about a year.

    Later on, while outlining the individual books, I realised that two of them (books 8 and 9) were too complex, and that they needed to be split up into even smaller parts. This brought the total up to 20 books.
    Even later on, after some books were already written, I decided to remove book 7. It would have consisted almost exclusively of flashbacks, which would have been a bad fit after book 6. The flashbacks still mattered though, but I could condense them and move them to book 9, which would otherwise have been very short.

    Once I'm done with book 10, which ends a major story arc, I'm going to go over the outlines for the remaining nine stories and see if there are any that can be skipped or merged, It's not unthinkable.
     
  5. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    I decided that Smughitter is going to be five books. At the end of the first book there's going to be this feeling of "Wow, they have their work cut out for them and are just getting started." That part came naturally from developing the story itself. They're going to be hunting a group of villains they know almost nothing about, and that didn't seem like something that would get resolved any time soon. So I'll take the time to develop the villain group piece by piece.

    It also happens that there's five countries on the map, so I decided that each book would expand on a different country. The first book would have the details for one nation and the other four would be shaded out. Each sequel would open up a new area of the map.

    And I have a lot of ground to cover. I really want to explore the races and the magic and all the other worldbuilding I've developed. Rather than cram it all into a single work, or build it all and cut two thirds of it, I feel confident that there's enough material to spread across five books. While I've come to understand this world in depth, and can begin seeding it early on, I feel that there's room to focus on different elements of it in each story.

    Finally, I want to build out the cultural clash of the sprite civilization. In the first book Aliffe and Haifen have different worldviews that are at war with each other. As the two of them start to come together, Aliffe's larger world comes to clash with Haifen's larger world (kind of like in-laws fighting with each other). As those two larger worlds come together at the end of the second book, there's a new, wider worldview clash as a new character presents a more hostile view of things that shapes the third book. And so on. By my count I can keep up the escalating worldview clashes through five books, although it won't serve the same kind of role in each book.

    So that's conflict, worldbuilding, and theme. I don't have character arcs yet for each of the sequels. I'm hoping to identity something that's relatively subtle for some of the installments, but that still represents a clear arc throughout the series. The first book, though, I have the arcs down pat.

    So what I'm getting at, is there's a mix of what's right of what's right for the story and the decisions you have to lock in for yourself and adjust for. If 5 books is right for some reasons, I have to tinker with everything else to make it work. I have to work to develop the ideas around that decision.

    What that means, though, is that you get to pick which aspect of the story you care about, which one you want to look at and say, "this is the heart of my story, I'm going to get this part really well done right, and I'll work everything else around this." It's not that there's a right or a wrong answer from the story itself. It's that there's a right or wrong answer based on what you find to be most important about the story you're telling. So be yourself, and make the decision on what you care about most.
     
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2019
  6. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    Be myself? Hah! Other people have tried and can't do it. :)

    I really like the characters, especially when I realized that Fritz and Otho were opposites in so many ways. I went from regarding Otho as the villain, or at least the antagonist, the problem, to genuinely feeling sorry for him. He's in over his head, doesn't really want the job, but has to make the play because of his family. He'd much rather go hunting and drinking. Or drinking and hunting, he's not picky. This in contrast to Fritz, who very much wants the job.

    Right now, I'm approaching this not as a series but as a saga. One story. Once I feel like I truly have the arc for Fritz, then I'll climb back up the mountain to see how many shapes there are that look like books. I'm still deep in research. Heck, the story of Constance, Frederick's first wife, is darn near a novel in itself.
     
  7. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    'Labyrinth' was originally supposed to be a short story - 15-20 thousand words. Instead, it's a trilogy (once I get around to book three). Too much material simply wasn't relevant for the first book and got cut.

    'Empire' is a different situation. Originally, I'd envisioned a string of four novellas, each set in a different location in the imperial heartland, each featuring the same primary POV characters. Location determining the stories details. That's still the case, but unresolved issues from those books prompted the addition of two more books. Was going to be seven, but, well, that's another story.
     
  8. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    ThinkerXThinkerX, do you recall how you decided it was three books and not two or four?

    With 'Empire' I get that. You made an arbitrary decision based on the map. That decision isn't story-driven, but at least it's clear-cut, so I can see how the decision is made. When someone says there's "too much" for one book, that doesn't tell me much. I mean, there's *always* too much, right? So there has to be something else going on.

    And another thing. One sort of multi-volume is more a matter of "too much" in the sense that a person plans out and maybe even writes a novel, but then the question of "and then what happened" becomes unbearable, right? We want to know what comes after.

    That's qualitatively different from crafting a series of books with an overall arc. There I think the author must have had the length planned from the start.

    I'll attack this from another angle, to see if it resonates with anyone. There are four parts to a story: plot, character, setting, theme. You may have a different list, but we'd probably overlap a bunch. For this conversation I'll stick with these. So, what constitutes too much?

    Setting and character probably drive "too much" more than the others. I have a big world and this novel only explores X. I want to take readers over to Y and Z, so those are going to have to be separate books. That's fine; I'm doing that with Altearth. But it's not a series. There's nothing that ties the stories together except the common setting, so let's look at character.

    This happens a lot to authors, I'm guessing. We start with an MC, build out a circle of friends, an antagonist, and somewhere along the way we start falling in love with some of our secondary characters. Heck, the MC in Goblins at the Gates began life as a secondary character. More than setting, characters can actually start to twist the plot itself, forcing more scenes that eventually push outward to multiple volumes. It's really still the same story, more or less, but its scope has grown. That process is so organic, peculiar to each story, that there's no way to generalize. At most we can tell each other anecdotes and maybe something sparks something.

    As to plot, it would seem like this would be least flexible, least likely to change the story into three acts of a larger story (trilogies being the most common length unit). But it's sort of happening with my current project. If I leave the trolls and the orc empire in the background, the overall story is shorter. Bring them on stage, and it's surely more than one book. If I decide to deal separately with the wizard organization, that could even be a fourth volume. Sometimes it almost feels like a personal decision--how much time do I myself want to spend with these characters, this time period?

    Then there's theme. With The Falconer I am struck by the theme of courage. Was Fritz setting out against such long odds a courageous act, youthful folly, the arrogance of a future tyrant, or the madness of one who believes himself destined? Courage wears as many faces as fear, so there would be a place for each book to explore a different aspect of courage, and not only in my MC. I'm hard-pressed to figure how one might *begin* with them as a way to decide number of volumes.

    And this in conclusion. Maybe I know how many volumes when setting, plot, character, and theme all sit down together and agree: this long, neither shorter nor longer.
     
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  9. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

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    I sort of said this - except I used the word complex instead of much, but I think it amounts to the same thing.

    For me, this was almost exclusively down to plot.

    I think, maybe, it boils down to what level of detail my story is told at. I can't change that too much. Practical example.

    One of the stories I split up into multiple parts was originally going to be about Roy and Alene crossing the Midlands. It could fit into one novella or short story, but it didn't feel right to me. The original story had a lot of complications involved with the Midlands. I could either just gloss it over, or cut them out, but that didn't seem right. I wanted to tell the story of what happened there.

    I split the story into four parts:
    1. Entering the Midlands.
    2. Traveling across the Midlands and almost being captured halfway through.
    3. Escaping out of the Midlands and getting split up.
    4. Reuniting again and setting out on the last leg of the journey.

    I never really tried to put that into just one story, but I feel like it would have been way too much to fit in a single novella, given how I tell my stories.

    Using the elements set up before, these are all plot points. The characters are continuously developed throughout the stories, and the same goes with the setting. The overall theme for the series as a whole doesn't change much, but for the individual stories it varies a bit. I'm not overly concerned with setting up the theme though. It's something that grows out of the first draft and then I refine it in the second and third.
     
  10. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    Thanks for that, Svrtnsse. While I keep looking for objective measures, I don't for a moment discount the subjective judgment of the author. If it doesn't feel like fits, then it doesn't fit--at least not for that author writing that story at that moment. The closest parallel I can make is with music. The artist often feels his way through the performance of a song, adding or leaving out according to a judgment that is so complex we don't really have words to describe it. Partly subconscious, partly deliberate, partly conditioned by the phrases and techniques the artist knows, partly from audience feedback, partly from that quasi-telepathic communication that goes on between musicians, and even partly physical. It winds up being so many parts that are so fleeting and momentary, there's really no use in trying to describe it. What's the old line? Writing about music is like dancing about architecture.

    You'd think writing about writing would be easier!
     
  11. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

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    Sometimes just even reading about writing has me despair.
     
  12. Firefly

    Firefly Troubadour

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    I've never written a series, but when I'm estimating whether a new idea I'm looking at is a short story, a novel, or something in between, I always look at plot, and it would be the first thing I'd look at it I were trying to decide how to break up a series. The way I see it, plot, character, and theme are the things that make a story good, but the conflict is what the story is about.
    If I I'm trying to write a short story and the conflict I come up with is big and meaty and full of potential complications, I know that I either need to make it simpler and easier for my protagonist to deal with, or commit to writing something a lot longer. I have no idea if this would work for everybody, but for me it's turned out to be a pretty good way to tell how much material I have to work with.

    In a series context, I would be looking at all my ideas for conflict and trying to decide how many of them are big enough that they could sustain a whole novel. A common flaw I've noticed with bad middle novels in series is that they don't have enough substance to compete with the beginnings and finales. They're afraid to really resolve or change anything, so they don't have strong endings, and they don't have enough major turning points to feel important to the greater story.

    I think my rule of thumb would be to write it in as few installments as possible without ending up with a monster-sized book or simplifying conflicts I wanted to explore.
     
  13. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    Okay.

    First, 'Labyrinth' was my first foray back into writing in something like six or eight years. I was writing as much out of frustration in my personal life as anything else.

    Second, I didn't have an outline, only a hazy idea of the ending. As a result, the story did a *lot* of meandering. I kept coming up with new ideas or things that had to be accounted for as I was writing, and I'd just drop them in.

    Third, starting points. The original version of Labryinth began with the characters entering the maze - but as I wrote, I kept incorporating earlier events in the form of flashbacks. Eventually, these 'earlier events' became at least as interesting as what transpired in the maze itself.

    For quite a while - back when I still envisioned the whole tale as being a single 40-50 K book, I kept trying to write the 'earlier events' in the form of a 3-5 K prologue. That failed miserably. Eventually, i decided the 'before' material would be as long as it needed to be. The new starting chapter took place thousands of miles away and was entered into an 'Iron Pen' Challenge. It took three more chapters to get to the maze. Even then, I left out much of the 'before' material from the first draft.

    The big issue with the tale inside the maze was far too much pointless fighting, plus a couple locations that didn't fit. I also had a major location that was barely dealt with. Poof - away went the unneeded fight scenes and locations. Filling in the plot points and characters that were needed more than made up for the loss.

    The next issue was the nature of the story: 'Labyrinth' was written as a journal, a chronicle of Titus Maximus. Said character remained inside the maze at the tales close, but had close family members outside it, along with the sort of obligations that come with being a member of an important family. But, the labyrinth being what it was, he couldn't leave. His journal, though, could and did. Hence, I added a prologue and an epilogue. In the former, the authors son Octavos discovers the journal. In the second, after reading it, he has to deal with the consequences of that discovery (among other things, he believed his father had died years earlier in a different part of the world). So, 'Labyrinth,' became 'Labyrinth: Journal.'

    'Labyrinth: Journal' is the record of a mans transformation from 'human' into 'something else.'

    Book two, 'Labyrinth: Seed,' carried a double meaning - the sons often unwilling travel towards the maze, and the 'child,' a new incarnation of the maze, and why certain people deemed it necessary. It incorporated the 'before' material left out of the original 'Journal.' The characters in 'Journal' had goals of their own, and those had t be accounted for. Much of the story involves those characters interactions with a large military expedition, sent to subdue an invading nomad horde. Octavos is with the military expedition, but eventually links up with a character from the first book. Options close around him, and he ventures to the maze.

    'Labyrinth: Seed' is something of a coming of age tale, and a forced acknowledgment of a larger peril.

    Book 3, still in the formulation stage, is about...call it...'what sacrifice is needed for security.' The full resources of the maze brought to bear against extremely dangerous foes.

    If you are interested, PM me an email and I'll send you copies of 'Journal' and 'Seed.'
     
  14. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    Thanks, ThinkerX. I noticed something vaguely similar with Goblins; specifically that I took so long in the writing that I changed as a writer, forcing me to rework whole sections, some fully written, others still in a sketch stage. Sketchy writing. *heh*

    Anyway, that issue of scope lies very close to the heart of my question. Put another way, how do we find the story? There's much to be said, but where is the *story*? The question bedevils me every time I set out. Even with Into the Second World, where the parameters of the story seemed pretty clearly laid out to me. Go into the cave, find another world, come back. But not so much. *grimace*

    Anyway, thanks very much for the detailed reply.
     
  15. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    'Labyrinth' came about at the tale end of my second go at delivering pizza (wake of the great recession of 2007/2008). I rather enjoyed delivering pizza in my younger days, good money, passable working conditions, and lots of semi-interesting characters. None of that was present the second time around; I felt trapped in a city sized maze. I was also mired in a tedious legal maze of sorts during this period. So, I started thinking about life and choices and how that too, in a way, resembled a maze.
     
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  16. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

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    skip.knoxskip.knox, I like the fact you chose M.I.C.E. (basically) for looking at the decision.

    Also, that you've considered different types of "series." I just got finished with an internet search to refresh my understanding of the terminology—series or serial? But there was a bit of confusion, since one site called Harry Potter a serial and another called it a series, heh. So I did another search and found Sanderson's 3-part breakdown, here: Types of Series | Brandon Sanderson.

    Saga

    I'm glad he found a term for this, although his particular use of the term might not fit yours or everyone's. Essentially, this is characterized mostly by an M (Milieu) commonality for a set of novels, novellas and stories. Sanderson gave Pern and Discworld as examples. I'd been thinking...maybe Narnia as well? You sorta, kinda dismissed this sort, as being not a series; but I think, although this assessment might apply to your particular tale, a milieu-connected series is doable. It's doable in multiple ways though, heh.

    We sometimes hear or give the advice: treat your setting as a character. Multiple tales set in the same milieu could accomplish a sort of grand, overarching tale, of a historical sort. Distinct, individuals stories, individual character arcs, and plots, for each volume of such a series, could work together to build what I guess I'll coin a "Milieu Arc." It would be as if the milieu were a character and the series were an attempt to show the full life (or a subsection of that life) of the milieu. As a historian reading this, you probably know exactly what I'm meaning.

    Now of course there could be a set of tales connected only by the fact that they share a common world, with no attempt to draw a grander arc or picture for the milieu. This type of collection might not seem to be so much of a "series" as a collection—?

    Serialized Epic

    If I continue the M.I.C.E. connection, heh, this type of series would probably be best associated with E-Event. It's that series of books that tells one overall story in multiple volumes. Maybe sometimes the author writes a book that's simply too large and the publisher says, "Nope. Too big. Break it into parts." Or perhaps the author decides to do this from the very beginning.

    I do think this kind of series could be associated with any of the other letters of M.I.C.E. as well. All those parts of a tale will exist regardless; but maybe an author might have a personal focus on an idea (you used theme in your post), character arc, or milieu when plotting out the books. Maybe fully developing any of these will require stages, complexity, what-have-you.

    How would this sort of series, with the intent to focus on milieu, differ from the Saga? I'd say the distinction would be having a singular set of characters, even with some new characters introduced along the way, continuing a journey and/or working through a singular plot, throughout the series. In a Saga, there'd be different characters, different plots, different basic stories, for each volume.

    I highlighted E-Event because most serialized epics in our speculative genres use that sort. There's a Grand Story, and multiple volumes are needed to get through it. For whatever reason. (Perhaps, indeed, the desire to focus lots on character, idea/theme, and the milieu leads to this need to split the event-based story into multiple volumes, since more focus means more words and more complexity.)

    The Continuing Adventures

    I'm somewhat partial to this type of series. Let's say it's mostly based on C (Character). It's not, typically, a character story, as C is usually considered when using M.I.C.E. to categorize tales. There may be a rather flat character arc or very limited character development. Sherlock Holmes, the original Star Trek, etc., are series of tales involving the same characters, with individual plots/stories for each volume or episode. There can be character development across a series though. Television figured this out somehow along the way, heh; now we see characters changing as a season or multiple seasons of a television show progress. Also, in the grand stretch of such a series, there can be surprise multi-volume plot threads (or at least plot developments for those), and sometimes these can come together to form the plot for one of the later volumes.

    I'm partial to this sort for two reasons. First and foremost, if I absolutely love a set of characters, I want to keep reading tales about them. Second (and this might almost be equal to the first), I like not having to commit myself to reading multiple volumes just to get a whole story. I highlighted C-Character because the set of tales are a set because of recurring characters.

    That said, I do think that both, serialized epics and continuing adventures, will usually require this love or at least intense interest in the characters—for me. Whether I commit to a single tale stretched over multiple volumes or a set of distinct tales in multiple volumes will depend on how much I like the characters. As for Sagas, I'd probably need great interest in the individual sets of characters for each volume. (I sometimes hope for a great example of a sort of Saga or milieu-based serial epic in which the land itself is the primary driver for me and the characters aren't. I think it could be done. But man, there'd need to be a helluva land, a helluva presentation of that milieu.)

    Okay, of these, I've not discerned any sort of I (Idea) based set of novels. Again, like the other parts of M.I.C.E., idea will figure in any tale, at least to some degree. I suppose something like the Wild Cards anthology might fit the bill. It's a shared world, so is it a Saga series? But it was designed around the idea of superheroes, exploring that idea. Dunno.
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2019
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  17. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

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    Okay, an addendum to that post. I forgot a couple things I wanted to mention.

    First, which might be obvious but I'll say it anyway, an author with lots of output can mix and match these types. You could have a three-volume serialized epic, or several of them, within a 30-volume Saga, heh. You could have Continuing Adventure tales squeezed in between multiple three-volume serialized epics. Etc.

    Second....my current project. Might as well personalize the discussion, right? At present, I'm aiming only for a single volume novel for my apprentice and master wizard. But I've been contemplating multiple volumes. I'm aiming for a single volume because, gosh, I really need to master that before I even begin contemplating something on a grander scale. But if I end up loving the characters as much as I think I will, I'll plan to turn it into a Continuing Adventures sort of series, but with a small characters-arc twist. The first volume involves the two as master-apprentice; in the second volume, they'll basically be two masters, still feeling their way through this separation while they team up to solve something; and in the third volume, another standalone tale, they'll basically have settled into an equal partnership. friendship. Something like that. But I have to get the first tale told—first. :ROFLMAO:
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2019
  18. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    >Okay, of these, I've not discerned any sort of I (Idea) based set of novels.
    I got one for ya. Foundation Trilogy by Isaac Asimov. And, more modern, The Expanse; although the characters are a strong pull, it's really the ideas that pull the story forward.

    Edit: Also. Very much worth adding: Easy Rawlins. Moseley tells more than the story of his hero, he tells the story of L.A. and race relations there. For my money, the best detective stories since the Twin Giants.
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2019
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  19. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    FifthViewFifthView has a good breakdown of types. My Altearth Tales falls squarely under Saga, as the stories are not connected, but there is a kind of progression. That is, magic and monsters come into the world, and the world is affected by this--a centuries-long process. Which tales I choose to tell is ... so far, anyway ... almost random. I chose Mad House because I thought it'd be a short story and I'd long had the notion of a house held together by centuries of magic spells that eventually go awry.

    I wrote A Child of Great Promise because the premise hit me out of the blue one day. We all talk about the half-elf, right? And it hit me, what's the other half? I played around with that for a while, and finally came up with, what if the character was neither (but believed she was half-elf/half-human)? Then it was just a matter of finding the right time and place within Altearth to set the story.

    Goblins at the Gates was a kind of origin story--the first appearance of magic, the first appearance of monsters, in an otherwise historical Earth.

    The most recent, Into the Second World, is a different sort of origin story. I can't give too much away there, except to say that in spite of it being the historically most recent tale (19thc), it also reaches the farthest back.

    Finally, The Falconer is just a story I've long wanted to tell, and is going to be both adventure and character study, but it's also the novel where I'm going to address Altearth magic head-on. I keep dancing around it. Each of my novels has been, in part, a way to explore some fantasy aspect of Altearth--this one has dwarves, that one has elves, for example. It's how I do my world building.

    The marketing people keep telling me to write a series. I've had people ask if this or that book will have a sequel (out of the tens of people who read my books). But so far I haven't seen any story that fit the bill. I do have one back-burner notion, but those burners just keep moving further back. I dunno. Magic stove or something.
     
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  20. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

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    I haven't read The Expanse, only watched three seasons of the television show. It strikes me as being a "Serialized Epic" rather than a series that becomes a series simply because all volumes (or seasons?) focus on a shared idea. On the one hand, it does seem like a serialized epic with a primary focus on discovering the mystery of what is happening, so it's an idea story. On the other hand, for a breakdown of types of series a la Sanderson's method (and my joining of MICE to it), I don't think The Expanse could fit the bill for an idea-oriented/-created series, if that makes sense.
     
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