View Full Version : Series Novels

09-15-2005, 03:03 AM
In the Novel forum, I asked the question about how to pick the name of a novel. My first novel (yet to be published) is the first book of a series. The Queen of Paradise, Book One, Brothers of the Nephilim.

The general consensus is that a novel (series or not) should be able to stand on its own, without having to rely on the following books to satisfy the reader. In other words, a beginning, middle and ending. It was also noted by the majority of respondents that a "Book One" would scare people off.

If that's what the majority of agents are looking for (especially from first-time writers) then I'm in trouble. I wrote it "to be continued." I can re-write it, cutting out huge chunks and replacing much of the story with what I have planned for books two and three, but then it would be a monster of a book. It's already 91,000 plus words.

I also asked the question about the Harry Potter books - was the first book stand-alone? Did Harry Potter complete his quest in the first book? Those who responded to those questions answered YES. I didn't read the first HP book, so I don't know how he could have found what he was looking for after only a short time at Hogwarts.

Any comments and / or suggestions?:cry:

09-15-2005, 03:24 AM
I don't think 'book one' needs to be part of the title. Most series would just go:

Big title: Brothers of the Nephilim

smaller print: Book 1 in The Queen of Paradise series

I strongly suggest ending the first book with some kind of resolution and closing off major plot arcs. Books that don't 'end' really annoy me!

09-15-2005, 02:14 PM
I would agree with the others, in that your first book must be able to stand alone -- while still fitting in with the series as a whole.

The overall series' mission doesn't have to be completed in book one -- or even recognized by the protagonist in the first book. I don't know about Harry Potter, but I'm thinking of "Lord of the Rings" here.

If an agent is going to take you on as a client, s/he can't be sure that your first book will be successful enough that there will be demand for the rest of the series. So, the first book must be able to be sold (i.e. be self-contained enough) as a 'one-off.' And yet -- hopefully -- intriguing enough to create demand for the rest.

Yes, it isn't easy to create an ending for the first book that satisfies the reader while leaving open the possibility (if not necessity!) of a continuation -- but no one said any of this was easy, eh what?

My historical novel, by the way, is part of a series.

09-15-2005, 04:42 PM
Stand-alone doesn't mean all loose ends and story arcs have to be complete. The HP series has a long arc (good vs. evil and Harry's development). But each book is stand-alone because the main story (for example, the first is about the sorcerer's stone) has a resolution. That plot has a beginning, middle and end. Subplots might not be tied up at the end for the series. Characters continue their lives beyond the ending of the book.

You asked, "Did HP complete his quest?" Yes and no. Yes because as far as the main story of the first book is concerned (the sorcerer stone), he did. But overall, it's just real life. Have we all completed our quests yet? No, but each day of our lives could be a complete story, even though the long arc (our entire life) is not complete yet.

Even if you look at something like LotR... it was written as a whole, not a series, then later broken into three parts. Still, each book can be enjoyed on its own. The movie version combined the plots to create the "to be continued...." cliffhangers because, well... it's the movies!

The first Star Wars movie was stand-alone. If the other five never existed, STAR WARS: A New Hope could be enjoyed as a single movie. We might wonder -- what happened before, and what happened after the Death Star was destroyed? Good questions. If enough people ask those questions, then you have a series in the making. But not the other way around.