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The Gunshark
11-03-2008, 07:15 PM
Hi everyone,

My WIP is a military/espionage series set in 2021. Yet, I think I have come across a bit of a problem. This genre is generally not serialized with examples found in novels such as Rainbow Six and the like. My overall storyline for the series, however, can be considered as a serialized account of World War III with a short majority of the focus on my MC, a CIA operations officer. Each of the planned stories lead into the next with multiple superpowers in tow. The key players are the United States, European Union, Russia, India, and China.

The question is: Can I get away with this in submitting to the industry? It seems like this kind of format is a rarity and I am particularly trying to avoid the one man/nation/organization saves the world plotline.

Momento Mori
11-03-2008, 07:49 PM
Hi, The Gunshark, and welcome to AW.

The Gunshark:
This genre is generally not serialized with examples found in novels such as Rainbow Six and the like. My overall storyline for the series, however, can be considered as a serialized account of World War III with a short majority of the focus on my MC, a CIA operations officer. Each of the planned stories lead into the next with multiple superpowers in tow.

I'm not sure what you mean by this. Are you talking about writing your novels as a series, i.e. so the first novel focuses on Country [X], the next on Country [Y] etc, or do you mean that each chapter in your novel focuses on a different country?

If you're talking about writing a series of novels, then you need to be aware that the first novel will need to work by itself, i.e. be a complete story in and of itself in terms of submitting it to agents/publishers. Although publishers will pick up a series, they won't buy all of the books up front - maybe going for a 2 or 3 book deal and seeing how the numbers perform. However the first book will need to be strong enough to attract their interest in order to hook them in for the rest.

In addition, if your subsequent novels are dependent on the first novel being published (i.e. they do not work as stand-alone novels in their own right), then you might want to work on something completely different until such time as you've got an agent/publisher for the first novel. The reason for this is purely because if you can't get an agent/publisher for that first novel (and I'm not passing any judgment at all on your writing - it's just that this tends to be the norm for an awful lot of people), you don't want to have spent a load of time writing sequels that now can't be sold.

MM

Danthia
11-03-2008, 08:02 PM
Ditto Mori.

Also remember, that just because something isn't typically done doesn't mean it can't be. Futuristic thrillers stands just as good a chance at being serialized as any other type of book. What really matters in the end is, "Is this a great book?" If yes, then submit away and let the agent worry about who to sell it to :) That's their job.

The Gunshark
11-03-2008, 09:16 PM
Hi, The Gunshark, and welcome to AW.



I'm not sure what you mean by this. Are you talking about writing your novels as a series, i.e. so the first novel focuses on Country [X], the next on Country [Y] etc, or do you mean that each chapter in your novel focuses on a different country?

If you're talking about writing a series of novels, then you need to be aware that the first novel will need to work by itself, i.e. be a complete story in and of itself in terms of submitting it to agents/publishers. Although publishers will pick up a series, they won't buy all of the books up front - maybe going for a 2 or 3 book deal and seeing how the numbers perform. However the first book will need to be strong enough to attract their interest in order to hook them in for the rest.

In addition, if your subsequent novels are dependent on the first novel being published (i.e. they do not work as stand-alone novels in their own right), then you might want to work on something completely different until such time as you've got an agent/publisher for the first novel. The reason for this is purely because if you can't get an agent/publisher for that first novel (and I'm not passing any judgment at all on your writing - it's just that this tends to be the norm for an awful lot of people), you don't want to have spent a load of time writing sequels that now can't be sold.

MM

My intent was to publish it in that sort of manner, although not necessarily with each nation in mind. Hopefully, the following will help as a hypothetical example.

MC = Main character heavily involved.

Book 1 - Primary focus is on the United States and a terrorist organization that acts as the catalyst within the series. Secondary focus on European Union and Russia. MC.

Book 2 - Primary focus is on the United States, terrorist organization, and the European Union in Africa and the North Atlantic. War is set off. MC.

Book 3 - Primary focus is on the European Union, Russia, and the NATO alliance.

Book 4 - Primary focus on the United States, China, India, and Russia (Pacific Theater). MC.

Book 5 - Primary focus on NATO and Russia. Conclusion. MC.

Hope that helps with any further posts. :D:hi:

job
11-04-2008, 01:42 AM
Hi Gunshark --

ISTM the later stories can be 'stand alone' if a serial is truly a problem in your genre.

I would just worry about producing the first ms and then talk to your agent and editor about how to market the later ones.

Captain Ian
11-04-2008, 02:04 AM
Hi, Gunshark.

Are you talking about something like this?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Axis_of_Time

Then it's possible, why not.

jst5150
11-04-2008, 02:12 AM
Hey Shark,

John Ringo (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Ringo) writes stuff like this all the time and he's pretty good at it (as well as being a former member of the 82ns Airborne).

Write it well and someone will pick it up.

The Gunshark
11-04-2008, 04:00 AM
Thanks for all the support everyone.

Small issue with the query, though, wouldn't an attempt to indicate that I would consider it to be a serialized story wind up on the agent's bad side? I received some critiquing citing that very issue when I chose to use a reference that book one is only part one.

JoniBGoode
11-04-2008, 04:23 AM
Thanks for all the support everyone.

Small issue with the query, though, wouldn't an attempt to indicate that I would consider it to be a serialized story wind up on the agent's bad side? I received some critiquing citing that very issue when I chose to use a reference that book one is only part one.

So don't try to sell it to agents as the first in a series. Sell it as a stand-alone book, and just mention in the letter that it could be a possible series.

I think the serialized story only scares agents because often those of us who write them, don't make the books strong enough in plot and tension to stand alone. And for the first book in the series, that's even more of an issue than for subsequent ones.

My only concern about your series would be that there is one novel in the middle that doesn't involve the MC. That seems weird. I could understand if you had a different MC in each book, or the same MC in all the books. But having one different, and then going back to the MC, seems a little odd. But hey, if it works for your books, great!

The Gunshark
11-04-2008, 04:29 AM
So don't try to sell it to agents as the first in a series. Sell it as a stand-alone book, and just mention in the letter that it could be a possible series.

I think the serialized story only scares agents because often those of us who write them, don't make the books strong enough in plot and tension to stand alone. And for the first book in the series, that's even more of an issue than for subsequent ones.

My only concern about your series would be that there is one novel in the middle that doesn't involve the MC. That seems weird. I could understand if you had a different MC in each book, or the same MC in all the books. But having one different, and then going back to the MC, seems a little odd. But hey, if it works for your books, great!

The point behind that is avoiding the one man saves the world cliche.

That one would be used to show some love to Europe. :D

Thank you for your advice.

Momento Mori
11-04-2008, 02:09 PM
The Gunshark:
wouldn't an attempt to indicate that I would consider it to be a serialized story wind up on the agent's bad side?

Mention in the query letter that there is potential for a series, but leave it at that. Definitely don't mention that you're already working on the next book - you can save that for when an agent calls you to offer representation and asks what else you're working on.

MM

kuatolives
11-04-2008, 09:44 PM
It's a horrible horrible horrible book, but Tom Clancy's RED STORM RISING sounds similar to what you want to pull off. From what I remember about that POS book, it was something like you want to accomplish. I'm sure you can do much better though.

Captain Ian
11-04-2008, 10:47 PM
Yep, Red Storm Rising was a steaming pile of rubbish. But it was a standalone book, wasn't it?

dclary
11-04-2008, 10:55 PM
This question gets asked a lot by fantasy writers. "Hi, I'm writing a trilogy... do I tell the agent that?"

A lot of agents -- regardless of genre -- aren't going to want to commit to even reading a trilogy, let alone a stand-alone novel, let alone publishing one from a newcomer.

I think it's best to query the agent a stand-alone novel (that just happens to be the first in aseries. You don't have to tell him that). If it's truly fantastic, he's going to say "wow! that's great! can you do more with that character?" at which point you break out with "funny you should ask that..."

JoniBGoode
11-05-2008, 09:58 PM
The point behind that is avoiding the one man saves the world cliche.

That one would be used to show some love to Europe. :D

Thank you for your advice.

I can relate to that. But here's my concern. I'm looking at it from the reader's POV. I buy the first two novels, which feature the MC, and I like them. So I buy the 3rd novel, expecting the further adventures of MC, and I'm disappointed. Why would I buy book 4?

Or, I like the fact that MC is not in book 3. Why would I want to buy books 4 & 5, which do feature MC?

If I like book 2 and I buy book 3, I'm disappointed that MC is missing. If I like book 3, and I buy book 4, I'm disappointed that MC is back.

Either way, book 3 seems like a series-killer to me.

What if the MCs in all the novels were similar people who worked for the same agency, but not the exact same MC? They had different names and slightly different characteristics?

[And, what's wrong with "one man saves the universe" plots, anyway? Yes, it's been done before, but so has everything else. Just do it better.]

Contemplative
11-06-2008, 01:32 AM
I want to disagree with some of the negative response here. This sounds like a really interesting project.

I like "one-man-saves-the-world" plots in a lot of genre fiction, even realistic war stories, but it really doesn't fit in a military technothriller that tries to give a hawk's-eye view of a whole modern war, ala Clancy's novels. It just bends the realism too much, given how defined and specialized a modern military is.

I'd like to see more than one perspective, too. It would be very cool to read about, for example, a modern war between America and China, with genuine heroes on both sides of the conflict. As long as there's strong new content, I'm very much a sucker for Rashomon-style, "now here's how that battle looked from the other side's perspective" retellings.

Admittedly, military technothrillers tend to be very rah-rah-America to the point where it's a reader expectation and market force, but that doesn't mean you can't sell a more cosmopolitan perspective.

I agree that at the very minimum the first novel should have a complete story with closure rather than a cliffhanger, but "closure" doesn't have to mean the end of the war; it may just be one country launching a first-strike attack on another, and the other recovering and responding successfully.

I also think that if an agent or editor reads through to the end of a novel, then the sale will be made or lost on more significant factors than how open-ended the ending is.

The Gunshark
11-06-2008, 07:11 AM
I want to disagree with some of the negative response here. This sounds like a really interesting project.

I like "one-man-saves-the-world" plots in a lot of genre fiction, even realistic war stories, but it really doesn't fit in a military technothriller that tries to give a hawk's-eye view of a whole modern war, ala Clancy's novels. It just bends the realism too much, given how defined and specialized a modern military is.

I'd like to see more than one perspective, too. It would be very cool to read about, for example, a modern war between America and China, with genuine heroes on both sides of the conflict. As long as there's strong new content, I'm very much a sucker for Rashomon-style, "now here's how that battle looked from the other side's perspective" retellings.

Admittedly, military technothrillers tend to be very rah-rah-America to the point where it's a reader expectation and market force, but that doesn't mean you can't sell a more cosmopolitan perspective.

I agree that at the very minimum the first novel should have a complete story with closure rather than a cliffhanger, but "closure" doesn't have to mean the end of the war; it may just be one country launching a first-strike attack on another, and the other recovering and responding successfully.

I also think that if an agent or editor reads through to the end of a novel, then the sale will be made or lost on more significant factors than how open-ended the ending is.

The end of #1 has a sort of closure to it, but it is left wide open because war has not yet been declared.

The point behind #3 is that the MC is still there, yet his exploits would be told through rumors and exploits that may make international news (ex. a General found dead with his throat snapped). For example, the President of the United States could share intelligence with Europe that points to the MC's codename.

That way, it could kind of harness an element of fear among the enemies. Somebody could pull them into the shadows at any moment.

More conversation is always welcome.

Momento Mori
11-06-2008, 02:22 PM
Contemplative:
I want to disagree with some of the negative response here. This sounds like a really interesting project.

The comments made regarding pitching this to an agent/publisher aren't intended to denigrate The Gunshark's idea for a series, they're intended to help him be able to sell the first one so that the rest of the series is picked up.

Contemplative:
I agree that at the very minimum the first novel should have a complete story with closure rather than a cliffhanger, but "closure" doesn't have to mean the end of the war;

Of course not - if the idea is that the war continues over a number of books pursuant to an over-riding story arc then obviously you can't close that down in one book. However that first book does need to stand on its own - the significant plot points particular to that story need to be tied up by the end in order to make for a satisfying read.

Contemplative:
I also think that if an agent or editor reads through to the end of a novel, then the sale will be made or lost on more significant factors than how open-ended the ending is.

Yes. It will be made on whether an agent/editor thinks that significant commercial interest can be generated from that first book to make sales of the second book viable.

MM

bergalia
11-07-2008, 04:54 PM
It's to be hoped that your main character gives a 'true' perspective on war - from the squaddie's eye-view - not a polished revision of battle. Trust me I'm not anti-US (some of my best friends are American - but I wouldn't let my sister marry one...) But you must bear in mind that America's last outright and unaided victory was against the British Crown in the 1700's. (Nagassaki was something of a flash in the pan.) For the most part General's memoirs are based on hearsay, those of Victorious General's on fantasy.
No, the true picture of mud and shit are from the eye-witness in the field of fire. That's the stuff to grip the reader (the majority of whom will have experienced it.)

*Before you ask - my own observations are based on service in the SBS (Special Boat Service - the wet, non-bullshit, low profile version of the SAS) in Thatcher's Falklands Fiasco.

The Gunshark
11-07-2008, 05:55 PM
It's to be hoped that your main character gives a 'true' perspective on war - from the squaddie's eye-view - not a polished revision of battle. Trust me I'm not anti-US (some of my best friends are American - but I wouldn't let my sister marry one...) But you must bear in mind that America's last outright and unaided victory was against the British Crown in the 1700's. (Nagassaki was something of a flash in the pan.) For the most part General's memoirs are based on hearsay, those of Victorious General's on fantasy.
No, the true picture of mud and shit are from the eye-witness in the field of fire. That's the stuff to grip the reader (the majority of whom will have experienced it.)

*Before you ask - my own observations are based on service in the SBS (Special Boat Service - the wet, non-bullshit, low profile version of the SAS) in Thatcher's Falklands Fiasco.

Good points. I did include a few of the MC's war flashbacks that detail that sort of thing in the first novel. British forces are fighting alongside the US, for instance, but I don't mention what they are doing because the main character is American, obviously.

And yes, I am looking at the picture in a sort of way from the bottom to the top. Like you said, there is the mud and fire, but then there is the sanitized version that comes across on the news.

I am avoiding the unaided victory idea, because that is not a true reflection of international power plays. Most of the conflicts following the Spanish-American War have involved most of the Western powers, so we all aided each other, so to speak.

bergalia
11-07-2008, 06:15 PM
..And yes, I am looking at the picture in a sort of way from the bottom to the top. Like you said, there is the mud and fire, but then there is the sanitized version that comes across on the news.

Good stuff Gunshark. Too many writers tend to base their 'knowledge' of battle conditions from deskbound 'jottings' - of historians. Don't get me wrong, I - and most of my fellow SBS teams had an incredible admiration for the US servicemen we met during our 'stooging' around the South Atlantic. (Yes your guys were there - but I gather their part is still 'Top Secret.' Sake of diplomacy with your far southern neighbours. But I'll tell you this - they were among of the 'dirtiest', 'ugliest', most 'psychopathic,' crew I've had the good fortune to share a beer with. They were magnificent. You should be proud of them - and eventually when the files are made public they'll have one hell of a yarn to tell.)
Heroics ? Nah...they'll tell you - just part of the job.
Meanwhile - good luck with the book/s.