Sunday, February 11, 2007

Trilogies and Series

Our friends in the Fantasy community are very used to having their tales done in series of books. From the minimal contact I have with that genre I cannot name a single stand alone Fantasy book except for maybe Piers Anthony’s Killobyte, and with a book like that it is a pretty tenuous connection. Still, in horror we have a few series. Notably there is Stephen King’s Dark Tower, there are the multiple sets of books from Brian Lumley’s Necroscope series of series, and there are the series from Anne Rice.

I for one am a huge fan of book series. I draw this huge mental connection between them and television series. There are things that can be done within the scope of more than one book that are, at the least, much more difficult to do within a single novel. The requirements to write a successful series, of which trilogies are just a constricted scale version, are only extensions of what makes a successful novel. The most important of these are of course the characters. The characters that carry on from book to book have to be that much more compelling and able to carry the reader’s interest for that much longer.

The thing that I really admire about series is the ability that they give the author to be more subtle, and to build more intricate plots and relationships. This can be put to most spectacular use when there is an over-reaching plot to all of the books, an undercurrent that can be separate from each single book’s plot. I am speaking of the difference between the type of series that is like a single novel of immense size broken into separate books, compared to the type of series that is episodic with an overarching plot tying these episodes together.

There is also a third kind of series as well. That would be the kind where the books do not have to have characters in common or a plot that runs through them. These series are tied together by different criteria. An obvious first example comes from Stephen King’s Castle Rock novels. They can be considered a series because of their common setting, the town of Castle Rock. In a slightly different vein there can also be a series of books based solely on a thematic connection. I cannot name such an example from what I have read, but I am writing just such a trilogy. I always practice what I preach.

Mood: harried.
Music: 4000 Rainy Nights by Stratovarius and The Edge by Vince Neil.

Stratovarius: Destiny
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Vince Neil: Exposed

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