Author Topic: Series Models  (Read 1770 times)

EUOL

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Series Models
« on: June 22, 2004, 09:58:42 PM »
Okay, as one might expect, I've been thinking a lot about sequels and series lately.  Now that I'm finally publishing, I have to look at the next stage in my career.  

I've really never written a sequel before.  I have one book where I stopped halfway through because the book was running too long, then finished it in a 'second' book, but that doesn't quite count--I really wrote one big book and split it into two.  I've also done a couple of major rewrites to books, re-vamping characters or a setting with a new story.  This, however, is really more of a complete rewrite of the same book than it is a sequel.

Lately, I've been thinking about the different 'models' that writers seem to use when planning their series.  

The Jordan Model:  One continuous story that's done when (if) you get to the end.  

The Eddings Model:  One continuous story divided into a pre-determined number of books.

The Bujold/Card Model:  More episodic story centered around the life of a single, interesting character.  

The McCaffery Model:  Episodic series with a general over-arching storyline, different books focusing on different viewpoint characters in the same world.

Now, so far I've always followed the Eddings or the Jordan model in my planned sequels.  However, I've been thinking that I'd really like to launch a McCaffery style series.  It would let me do what I like--develop new cultures and magics in every novel--yet at the same time give me the market benefit of a cohesive 'series.'  

Thoughts?  (I'm thinking of using the AETHER OF NIGHT world as a launching point for this series, in case you were wondering.)
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42

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Re: Series Models
« Reply #1 on: June 22, 2004, 10:39:02 PM »
Well, my opinion is that you should write sequels around your strongest writing skills.

I can see the McCaffery model working well for you. You could explore different aspects of your magic systems.

No offense intended, but I'm not sure if your characters are complex/interesting enough to support a series. Course I kind of think that Jordan is trying to do it all, which is why the series will never end.
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Re: Series Models
« Reply #2 on: June 23, 2004, 12:42:17 AM »
I like series with one character who does different stuff, although you choose interesting examples.  I would have used Conan and Elric as examples.  That's my favorite, but I would go with 42's advice and stick with whatever works best for you.

I'd also say Shannara goes in your "McCaffery" model and I'm guessing you've read Shannara, so you could look at that for ideas.  I think every book the guy has wrote made the best seller list, so probably not a bad place to look.  I think the Recluse saga would also fit into this model... some books are sequels, some are prequels, some you have no idea when or where its taking place.  A little more bizzare, the Cthulhu Mythos stories... completely different stories but with some type of unified theme.

They all do it a bit different too, so that could give you a few options for the same basic concept.

I think a cool idea would be if you had several trilogies or series of the Conan/Elric model, and each one is a lot different, except for one small element that unifies them via your McCaffery model.  So you have several series about its own hero, they are all a good bit apart in history or whatever so on the surface it looks like a new world, but for the real diehards they could feel that bit of familar mythos in the background.  Of course this involves coming up with a cool mythos /and/ several cool characters, but that would be my attack plan.
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EUOL

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Re: Series Models
« Reply #3 on: June 23, 2004, 12:54:49 AM »
Quote
I think a cool idea would be if you had several trilogies or series of the Conan/Elric model, and each one is a lot different, except for one small element that unifies them via your McCaffery model.  


That's actually exactly what I was thinking of doing, EP.

Here's the thing:  I've got this world idea (already have one book written in the setting) which involves a lot of different magical powers based on the same theme.

I think it would be nice to write a lot of books in the same world, but to have sub-series of them focusing on a given society (i.e., a given magic.)

I chose McCaffery as an example of this model because this is what she originally did with Pern--she had two 'trilogies' together within the same over-series, then wrote a number of stand-alones in the same world as well.

You're right--this is what Brooks and Modesitt do too.  Brooks seems to do it more by accident than intent, I think.  Knowing Lee, however, the model used by Recluse was all part of the plan.  Maybe I should ask him about it sometime.
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Re: Series Models
« Reply #4 on: June 23, 2004, 01:10:23 AM »
I think building it off the magic system will work nice.  Having a unique magic system is like *the* staple of fantasy.  If based a character of Rand, most people wouldn't go hey that guy is just like Rand, they'd be yet another savior-figure, ala Luke, Leto, etc and maybe mention Rand in the list.  Now if I took Channeling and renamed all the verbs and such, people wouldn't just say that's like channeling, I'd end up being sued by RJ.  That's because of any single thing, I think authors take ownership over their magic sytems.  A lot more than plot or characters or even their world.

Anyway, my point is the magic system is a good linking element.  I think fans come back every bit as much for a good magic system as they do a favorite character or world.
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Re: Series Models
« Reply #5 on: June 23, 2004, 02:33:33 PM »
I think the hard thing with a series is that it's intimidating to a lot of people, making it less marketable.  Like Stacer said on a different thread, it sucks to find a book you want to read, only to find that it's somewhere in the middle of a series.  In that sense, it might be best to write seperate stories that are unified by a character or theme, rather than a single story spread over several books.

That said, the series I'm working on right now is trying to get the best of both worlds.  It's planned as a three book series, and each book is part of an all-encompassing conflict, but each book should be a somewhat self-contained story.  Does that make sense? I'm explaining it poorly.  It's all one conflict, but there are three seperate 'episodes', each one having it's own resolution.
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Re: Series Models
« Reply #6 on: June 23, 2004, 03:05:53 PM »
A bit like Star Wars you mean? Or like the three Robin Hobb trilogies. Overall story, but each trilogy (and in the last trilogy, each book therein) has its own resolution and story-arch.
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Re: Series Models
« Reply #7 on: June 23, 2004, 03:27:07 PM »
I haven't read any Robin Hobb, but yeah -- a lot like the Star Wars movies.  Book 2 (the one I'm writing now) seems to be the hardest.  I want to wrap it up enough that it has a satisfying conclusion, but it still needs to have something of a cliffhanger ending.  What I think I've decided to do is to wrap up the Book 2 episode, and then tack on an epilogue which begins the Book 3 episode.  Kind of a happily-ever-after thing, and then, as they ride into the sunset, someone gets shot.  Figuratively speaking.
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Re: Series Models
« Reply #8 on: June 27, 2004, 03:08:26 PM »
Hrm... I have to agree with limiting the scope of the stories. Trilogies, at most. I like the star wars model, wehre you can just sit and watch any of the above without finding the others. You can develop them off any central theme if it's good enough. Building off characters works too. I don't see why you couldn't do either or.