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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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    Read the books, mate. Really outstanding. All props to the TV show--I watched 1 and 2--but the books (as usual) are better.

    Edit: and you totally could just pick up with Book 4, letting the TV show do the work for the first three.
     
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  2. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

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    I wonder if American Horror Story could be considered an idea-based series. Although each season has a different story arc and different characters (but most of the same actors, just playing different roles), and each has a different setting, AHS wouldn't fit under the other types of series, so...what would we call this sort?
     
  3. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    Horrible?

    Joking. In any taxonomy there will always be exceptions. That gets still more likely when we cross media types.
     
  4. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

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    I'm tending toward the term "Anthology." It's been used to describe AHS. Wild Cards has been characterized that way. And other anthologies usually use a common theme/idea. I'm not sure this would technically be a series; but maybe we can be generous and say, Why not? in this case.

    As for your original question, I hope breaking things down like this helps. For me, the decision between One or Multi-Volume comes pretty quickly these days. Years ago, I had a problem with scope and knowing whether my "story"—that thing perturbing my brain—was large or small in scope, needed more or fewer words. But as time has passed, I've consciously been narrowing scopes in a sort of reaction to my early self. I have a whole world with multiple lands, I now have a set of individual skeleton stories for many of these lands, and if they are all written they'll one day be a Saga type of series.

    You could say I've come around to this point because it's a tad lazier, heh. I mean, as long as I focus on the individual stories, I don't have to bother with a more complex and/or epic tale.

    Somewhere in the back of my mind there's this idea of someday writing an epic, multi-volume tale at the very end of the Saga, putting all the lands into conflict. But it's pretty much just a pipe dream at this point and not something I'm actually interested in doing.
     
  5. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    Yup, me too. I focus on individual stories. One thing I've noticed, and maybe you have too, is that when I make a decision in one story (and publish it), that has a cascading effect on future stories. That's a major reason why I put into a given story only as much world building as that story needs, leaving the rest as vague as possible. What I know about orcs is shockingly sparse. By the time I'm done with The Falconer, I'll be an expert.
     
  6. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

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    As I've put together the skeleton stories, I've noticed that many of the ideas I had for each helped me to brainstorm the next. For instance, the apprentice wizard I'm using for my current project had parents who were refugees from a neighboring land. The magic in each land is different; this, in part, explains why he and his master don't understand the sort of magic he is able to use. The fact that he's grown up in a new land and has received training from a master wizard in this other land has led to a sort of warping, or alt-use of the magic from his native land. (Nature v Nurture, heh.) I probably would never have come up with this thread if I hadn't already spent months thinking about a story set in the apprentice's native land.

    I do leave much "elsewhere" vague, but only because it's simpler. Now that I think about it, the stories I've considered are rather insular; they are in-country, mostly, and don't turn on events in other countries. Hmmm. But this means I can focus on each land and not worry so much about the rest of the world.

    I'm not worried about unduly influencing future stories. That said, there is one issue I need to resolve that has had such an effect. In the very first tale I conceived, involving the apprentice's native land, I decided that one of the world's moons seriously affects magic whenever it's full and close to the planet. This fit perfectly in that story. But I haven't yet given that moon full thought for the current story.
     
  7. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    Always good to hear these kind of details. It's funny; it's rare for any of it to be directly useful, but somehow I still very much like to hear from other authors. Like hearing from a traveler. You went to France, I went to France. We saw quite different things, maybe not even the same parts of the country, but there's a connection, for all that.

    The influences that I'm talking about are the persistent kind. For example, in Goblins at the Gates I made the goblins almost locust-like. No speech, no writing. Intelligent but only to the level of, say, a pack animal like a wolf. More cunning than intelligent. So now I have to live with that. If I need an intelligent monster race, goblins are off the table. Or, to take another example, I made a somewhat odd choice about gnomes for A Child of Great Promise. So all gnomes in other stories have to fit the same mold. Appearance, social customs, how magic is used, all that and more get set in stone once I click Publish.

    Maybe it affects me more because I write across centuries. I have to live with my own invented history. Ain't irony ironic?
     
  8. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

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    Well, hitting Publish makes a huge difference, I'd imagine. :whistle: Since I've not yet written that first tale, I could just forget the moon when I get around to it. Or, I can give the moon its due course in the present tale, just so I can use it when I decide to write the first one. I still have options, heh.

    Edit: Also, I have only one non-human intelligent species. They're very like humans, but with some differences. They are on the opposite side of the continent for the present tale and don't figure into it. Otherwise, humans are humans, wherever you go.
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2019
  9. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    Hmmm...

    Not an exact match, but 'Labyrinth' is a fair fit for a 'Saga': there is a decade long gap between 'Journal' and 'Seed,' and while characters from the former appear in the later, the principle actors are different. Then again, if the maze is viewed as a character, I suppose it could be construed as a 'Serial Epic,' or maybe a hybrid.

    'Empire,' on the other hand, is a Serial Epic; the action revolves around the same four primary POV characters from book to book, and events in the later books are dependent on what transpired in earlier volumes. My reasoning is 'actions have consequences, there are important mostly offstage characters who are both intelligent and informed, therefor those consequences had to be dealt with.' (all to often I come across fantasy and other works where severe consequences are glossed over or sidestepped) Much of the rewriting involves holding to that...guiding principle (for want of a better term) while allowing room for the four's actions.

    Yet, there is a fifth (and sixth) principle POV character whose chapters take place centuries if not millennia prior to the main action in 'Empire.' Plus, there are secondary characters with chapters that take place decades before. Factor that in, and 'Empire' develops aspects of a 'Saga.'

    And as both 'Labyrinth' and 'Empire' are set in the same world, with characters crossing over between the two, I suppose that collectively they constitute a 'Saga.'

    Now that I think about it, there is a third addition to the mix: the 'Toki/Hock-Nar' series of short stories, set in a different portion of the same world. There is a overall sequence to these tales: the Duo is younger and brasher in some and older and more talented in others, but each story stands on its own, making it a 'Continuing Adventures' type deal.
     
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  10. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

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    For Sundering the Gods it was several reasons... Really, each book is a story that continues into another story. Eve of Snows has a story. Trail of Pyres has a story. City of Whispers has a story. The smaller books are one character stories within the framework. Eve of Snows is 140k, Trail of Pyres 210k, and City of Shispers might just be 400-500k and broken into two parts for publication. They’re all one story, but they’re also stories contained within themselves.

    This also breaks into something a bit thematic. I’m sure that’s totally unhelpful, LOL.
     
  11. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    DemesnedenoirDemesnedenoir, did you have that big arc in mind from the start?
     
  12. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

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    Yeah, not the length I’m expecting from City of Whispers is a new thing... If I can keep it under 300k I’d be shocked. But the story arc has always been there, including the alternate title: The Three Loves of Ivin Choerkin... where each book details the “love relationship” between Ivin and Eliles/Meliu/Kinesee over time and through the wild circumstances..

     
  13. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    I admit to being impressed. After the rewrites, I expect the combined WC for all six of the 'Empire' series to be around 450,000 words...give or take a bunch. Then again, they were initially envisioned at around 35-40,000 words each, or about 200-240,000 words total. 'Labyrinth: Journal' and 'Labyrinth: Seed' check in at around 150,000 words total, though the third book will probably add another 100,000 to that total.

    Anymore, though...I find the longer works freaking exhausting. Six or eight weeks for a rough draft of each volume. Four to six months to rewrite each of those volumes. And then endless revisions, inserting minor details in earlier books that become of import in later books. Get the current projects wrapped up, I'll probably confine myself to 15-30 K novellas. Rewrites are much quicker.
     
  14. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

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    Editing 210k vs 50k is a major, major difference. The 50k novel I pub’d the 5th was cake compared to 210k, LOL. The notion of City of Whispers becoming my To Green Angel Tower kind of disturbs me, but as the journey into the world and story expands I’ve come to realize a need for more POV characters to involve the reader in what is happening everywhere necessary. But in the end, it’ll only be as big as it needs to be. If I can bring it in at 250k I will, but things tend to get bigger, not smaller.
     
  15. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    Your 'City of Whispers' is starting to sound a bit like my 'Empire: Judgment.' Initially, I'd planned for 'Judgment' to be two books - 'Judgment' plus 'Exiles,' but the problem was the story arc proper wraps up in 'Judgment,' making 'Exiles' an extremely long epilogue. My current reasoning is that since 'Exiles' is basically an epilogue, than I might as well fold it back into 'Judgment.' That, however, will make 'Judgment' the longest book by far in the series.

    As to the additional POV's, been there, done that. 'Labyrinth: Seed' was originally written with just three POV characters, but I was forced to tack in a fourth just to finish the rough draft and even that left a lot of gaps. It took two more POV characters to fix those issues.

    By the way, I read and enjoyed 'Eve of Snows.' Kept thinking it had familiar elements all through it, but didn't realize you were the author until later.
     
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  16. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

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    Thank you, glad you enjoyed Eve.

    So long as City of Whispers doesn’t eat my life, I guess it’s all good, LOL. Two fun parts, abbreviating Whispers... CoW, and I had the ending of CoW written before the ending of EoS. I just didn’t realize how many characters it would take to egt there, LOL.

     
  17. T.Allen.Smith

    T.Allen.Smith Staff Moderator

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    “There is no real ending. It’s just the place where you stop the story.”
    - Frank Herbert

    I’ve never understood how other writers can look at a story they haven’t completed and know how many books it’ll take.

    I’ve seen and heard so many people say their current WIP is going to be a trilogy, or whatever number. How can they know? You learn so much about your characters and plots simply by writing them. Add the shiny, new next story idea into the mix and you have a solid recipe for ending one and moving on. Then there are those ideas which, once executed, can turn into so much more.

    You might simply focus on telling one part of a story to the best of your ability & not worry about how many books it’d take for a series. You’ll stop where you’ll stop. The story has no true ending anyway. There could always be more.
     
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  18. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    T.Allen.SmithT.Allen.Smith, that's what I was asking, too. I can see just making an arbitrary decision. Trilogies have sell-through. But to know with a fair assurance that the story you have to tell consists of three arcs within an all-embracing arc? I sure can't manage it.

    I know this because I'm in the planning stages now, and my conception of the story veers wildly between a single volume and somewhere around three or four. Do I have a vision for the story? You bet. I got more visions than a shaman on peyote. But I'm miles away from an outline.
     
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  19. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

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    Herbert is both right and wrong, it depends on definition. I know a book is going to end when the main plot wraps up. That doesn’t mean there couldn’t be more surrounding that plot, but the plot is done. The number of books is often arbitrary (by story and plot) and based on size... LoTR is one “Book” broken into three books for publication. ASoIaF could be considered one book, really. But who the hell wants to lift it? heh heh.

    I’m not a Potter fan, but the books end when the plot ends. It’s as simple and as complicated as that.
     
  20. T.Allen.Smith

    T.Allen.Smith Staff Moderator

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    His point is simply that there’s always more story to tell. Plot is another matter.
     
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