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Thursday, January 6, 2011

What Makes A Trilogy Different From A Series

Please welcome guest blogger Jane Toombs

I’ve been thinking about this lately and have come up with a few things a trilogy must have that a series doesn’t need. First of all I expect a trilogy to have a demonstrable connection within the three books.

Either the same main characters throughout the three or secondary characters from the first book taking on major roles in the second and third books.

Or a single goal throughout the three books, such as a problem needing to be solved and finally is in the third.

Or a specific setting that is the same for every main character in the three books. By specific I mean something such as a haunted house or the actual area where the story takes place --an area that‘s at the core of the trilogy.

In other words, the three books need a close connection of some kind.

On the other hand, a series needs only to be loosely connected in some way. That to me is the difference. And yes, I write series, too. But the writer still has to have some idea of how many books in the series--unless he or she decided to make it an open-ended series. Which would mean stopping it when one of three things occurs. You run out of ways to keep the series connected, the publisher has had enough, or you, as a writer, decide you’re through.

Obviously a series must contain at least four books, But after that, it’s up to the individual author.

I’m currently writing a trilogy called the Dagon House Ghosts for Champagne Books. I’ve finished the first Book, Taken In, and when Champagne lets me know the approximate date of publication, I’ll start on the second book, Where There’s Smoke.

Sometimes, though, a publisher might want all three books if they want to control the release dates.

My 2009 New Year’s Resolution was to finish the first book in every series I’d started and it also became the 2010 one and will probably go on being such for a few more years. I had no idea when I made it, what would happen when an epub bought the first book in a trilogy how quickly they might want the next, and the last. But now I realize finishing the first book in any series may hold me up starting on any other first book in another.

January 7th is release day for Unwanted, the second book in my Underworld Series from Eternal Press. Unwise came out in October, so you can see that’s not much lead time to finish the next one. So I’ll be starting on Uncanny next and then there are three more projected books in the this series.

This is something to think about when you have more than one series going. As for the Underworld Series, my Underworld has nothing to do with Satan, but is simply an alternate world near Earth and other alternate worlds connected by gates.

Jane Toombs lives with the Viking from her past and their grandcat, Kinko, on the south shore of lake Superior where they enjoy three of the wonderful seasons , but not the one they’re in right now--winter. Jane has over eighty published books to her credit and going on thirty novellas and short stories.


Ella Mack, a staid librarian in the California Sierras happens to have green eyes and red hair, a not uncommon combination in our world. But when she accidentally falls through a gate into the Underworld, she quickly discovers her eyes and hair are a definite liability there. For in the country she’s landed in, green-eyed female redheads are considered to be evil witches and are killed on sight...


Sandy said...

Hi Jane,

Interesting post. I have written a trilogy, and was thinking of writing a series but not sure I'm up to four books. lol

Thanks for explaining the difference between trilogies and series.

Julia Barrett said...

Really interesting and I agree - there must be a deep connection between the three books. It doesn't matter as much in a series - each book can be stand alone. That's not always the case, there are many series out there where each book is required reading before you move on to the next.

Diane Craver said...

Interesting post, Jane. I'm impressed at the large number of published books you have. Congratulations on your success as a writer!

JL Walters said...

JANE, This is sort of true, except I'm writing a four book trilogy. The characters remain the same as does the problem. Though there are some added characters the five main ones have the main voice in the set of stories. Maybe that's what we could call it a book set.

Alexis Morgan said...

I enjoyed your post. I'm working on a trilogy right now, and I agree that the story arc that connects the three books has to be much more specific than in a long term series.