Horror author here, asking for advice from you fantasy / sci-fi experts

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Blackwell

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Hey everybody, I'm crossing into your dimension for some advice on my next book! I feel that you all are better equipped to answer my questions than anyone else.

I wrote a horror novel and it did well. It's now being made into a film. My readers have been clamoring for a follow-up, but I've only recently begun to entertain the idea.

Here's a brief summary of relevant information about the first novel:
  • it's written in first-person
  • the prose is simple and quick to read, almost like a thriller
  • it's quaint in size, setting, and number of characters
  • the story unfolds over the course of a few months

I have decided to write a follow-up. It will be a prequel...sort of. But I want to do some very different things with it:
  • I want to expand the setting and take a wider look at the physical space in which the terrifying events take place (think house ---> city)
  • I want the story to take place over a few decades and follow a larger group of characters (think It by Stephen King)
  • I want to write in a more literary style (not much more, but more)
  • I want the book to be longer (instead of 300 pages like the first one, I'm thinking I'll need about 500)

This description makes it seem like my new idea is messy, but I've spent some time in development, and I consider it to be quite structured. I'm confident it will be a good story... but it will be very different in style, scope, and length.

Here are my questions for you:
  1. Since this novel will be more than just an immediate prequel, I'm thinking I should give a name to my universe and then just say that both the original novel and the new novel are members of this universe. Does this sound like a good idea?
  2. I've seen Fantasy novels grouped together like this into something called "cycles." What is a cycle, and is that the word I'm looking for? Lovecraft did what I'm doing now, but instead of calling it a cycle, it was called a mythos. Are there other names I should consider using for this group of books?
  3. Among the fantasy / sci-fi series you've read, have you ever seen a perspective change (1st to 3rd, etc) between entries? Would you be annoyed by this?
  4. Same question as 3, but instead of perspective shifts, have you seen stylistic shifts (one novel being more literary than another, etc)?

Thanks for your advice and time.
 

MaeZe

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1) I have no idea.
2) Hyperion calls stories Cantos. Dan Simmons used it to describe stories but looking it up it refers to long poems. So clearly I don't remember the book well enough and don't know what I'm talking about.
3) Yes, The Young Elites by Marie Lu does that. It worked well.
4) Over my pay grade.

:welcome:
 

ChaseJxyz

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1: Not everything needs something like "Marvel Cinematic Universe" or anything like that. The term "universe" to refer to a singular setting is pretty much a joke at this point (see: Dark Universe, which was all of 1 movie, the Legendary Monsterverse which is just those 3 goji movies). They were "the Pern novels" or "the Dune novels," which had their own arcs within them of connected(-ish) stories. You can just say "the prequel to [whatever]." If you have more than two then maybe you might need some sort of name to connect them all (Dune all have "Dune" somewhere in the title, at least in the original ones). I wouldn't worry about that.

2: Honestly "cycle" etc is kind of dumb. Christopher Paolini originally was going to do "the Inheritance trilogy" but the 3rd got too long and broken into two, so it became "the Inheritance cycle" because quadrology isn't cool, or something. Trilogy kind of implies that there's something similar to a 3 act structure going on across the books, duology is easy enough to imagine a story split into two halves, but more of that is harder to parse. There's nothing wrong with the term "series," most things are "series." In regards to Lovecraft/Cthulu, a lot of other people wrote in that "universe," so having a vaguer term like "mythos" makes sense.

3: I'm sure it's been done. Tons of people have worked on series over extended periods so things like voice/style has changed. If it's switching from 1st to 3rd then there should be a good reason. A lot of series follow the 1 main character around, so a perspective shift from 1st to 3rd would be really weird, especially if it's still the 1 character. But if you're focusing on different characters, especially in a slightly different style and set in a different time period/different scope, then doing something different like a different POV can make sense. But your editor/publisher might have different opinions that might matter more than ours, since they're the ones making you money.

4: Kinda already answered that. The Animorph books grew a lot darker as the series went on, while Guardians of Ga'Hoole got a lot more magic-y (and tried to grow in scope, to limited success). Now that I think about it, I think some of the later Ga'Hoole books were in 1st person, while most of them were 3rd person, but it made sense because the 1st person ones were supposed to be epistolatory from historical figures, while the 3rd person ones were happening "live." Anyways, as the subject matters and themes shift, then the style might shift, but since you're the same author there shouldn't be a super wild change.
 

frimble3

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1) I have no idea.
2) Hyperion calls stories Cantos. Dan Simmons used it to describe stories but looking it up it refers to long poems. So clearly I don't remember the book well enough and don't know what I'm talking about.
3) Yes, The Young Elites by Marie Lu does that. It worked well.
4) Over my pay grade.

:welcome:
'Canto' refers to a section of an epic poem. So, to my mind, somewhat pretentious for a book.
'Cycle', properly, implies not just a series, but a sequence: birth of a kingdom to it's destruction, life of a hero to his death, usually with at least the suggestion that the cycle will continue. A new kingdom will rise, and fall in it's turn; a hero dies but someone takes up his banner. Around and around, on and on.

If you start with Darth Vader's beginnings, Star Wars is a cycle.
 

stephenf

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I think it would be better if you were defining the difference between Fantasy and Science Fiction . I know book shops love to place them on the same shelf and some newer books have become a bit fuzzy as what they are . But, there is still a large number of Sci-fi readers that find the blending of the two annoying.

I don't see the need to name your universe.

I believe your partly in the fantasy camp here . Most Sci-fi novels that end up being a grope have a group name, such as Jack Vance Planet of Adventure .

I don't feel a perspective changes would be a problem .

This one might be annoying if there was a big shift and a loss on continuity.
 

lizmonster

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Given you've got an existing fan base, I think the more relevant question would be how they would react to these changes. Personally, I wouldn't expect the universe expansion to be an issue, but a stylistic shift might, depending on whether or not it diverges too much from the reason your readers got hooked in the first place.

I doubt the POV change would be an issue regardless.
 
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Friendly Frog

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Here are my questions for you:
  1. Since this novel will be more than just an immediate prequel, I'm thinking I should give a name to my universe and then just say that both the original novel and the new novel are members of this universe. Does this sound like a good idea?
  2. I've seen Fantasy novels grouped together like this into something called "cycles." What is a cycle, and is that the word I'm looking for? Lovecraft did what I'm doing now, but instead of calling it a cycle, it was called a mythos. Are there other names I should consider using for this group of books?
  3. Among the fantasy / sci-fi series you've read, have you ever seen a perspective change (1st to 3rd, etc) between entries? Would you be annoyed by this?
  4. Same question as 3, but instead of perspective shifts, have you seen stylistic shifts (one novel being more literary than another, etc)?
1. Referring to it as a universe strikes me as only useful in the case of several books or stories in which the universe gets expanded. Here we're dealing with one book in a limited setting and a hypothetical book in a slightly larger setting, that's not much of a universe yet. There is no set of laws or tropes or geographically distinct location yet that define the universe.

In this case I would for now just stick to the description of 'prequel to book A'. That ought to tell your fans exactly what they'd need to know about your second book.

To make up a name for your universe that has never been mentioned as such for/ or has no connection to your published first book, might just cause unnecessary confusion. Unless you have plans/plots for several other books in this particular world.

2. The thing with cycles is IMO somewhat akin to the universe-thing. It strikes me as too soon in the exploration of this fledgeling universe to go referring to cycles. Back before the new Star Wars trilogies were a reality you couldn't really talk about cycles. You just had the one. Only later, when there entire stories played out with different people at different locations and periods could you use the term 'cycle'.

The Shannara books do this to, if I recall correctly. (I haven't read them, but getting the cycles right to buy the right book for my dad was a bit of a headache.)

3. Can't think of an example right now but I suppose it will have been done. The trick, as always, is to make it work. If you want to do it because it looks novel or edgy, best not to bother with it, IMO.

4. The Hobbit is stylistically a children's book, The Lord of the Rings, is your classic fantasy story and the published Silmarillion reads more like a collection of myths than a cohesive story. All are in the same universe. All three work on their own, in a way.

I couldn't say about literary style. Personally, I've not always been quite clear about the distinction between literary and everything else because it's all writing to me. Might be because I like to rant that everything with spaceships is sci-fi, darnit. Might be because as an unpublished author I lack the marketing insight.
 
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Blackwell

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Thank you all for the very informative and thoughtful replies.
 

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