I'm nearing agent/publisher courtship HELP!

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tko

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The whole premise of the story is about a magical event that takes place at the end of the trilogy. I can't write it into the first book and make it a stand alone with more to follow.
I think you can. Heck, even a chapter can be made to be somewhat standalone with a problem, resolution, reaction, and a new problem at the end, repeat endlessly. Chapters have problems, groups of chapters have bigger problems, novel have bigger problems and themes still. The reader needs an incentive to continue from start to end. Trilogies are big works that absolutely need this since I don't think any reader is going to read 400K words w/o some thrills, rewards, and satisfaction alone the way. So, all you need to do is end the first novel with some type of a resolution strong enough to satisfy the reader and give them a warm feeling.

On a personal note, as a kid I absolutely hated books that ended on cliffhangers. It was like the author lied to me and sold an incomplete product. If I'd known it was a cliffhanger, I wouldn't have brought the novel, only to wait a year to find out what happened. That's assuming the following novel ever gets published.

That's doesn't mean you can't end the novel with trouble on the horizon, but there should be a sense of completeness. If you're telling the agent you can't do this, they might see it as a sign you haven't mastered the art of narrative structure.
 

CWNitz

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Gotta ask - where is this noted? Because this sounds like a justification of infodumping, which is (IMHO, of course :)) a stunningly bad idea, no matter what the genre.
I got this advice from my editor too. She wasn't suggesting to start with an infodump, but with a short scene showing the most central fantasy element of the book. She gave the Amber Spyglass as example, where the first scene is Lyra and Pan alone, which gives us immediate intimate knowledge about daemons, and Six of Crows, in which there's a short prologue with a Grisha affected by the drug, which serves to introduce both the magic and the drug.

Afterward I looked around and found this in a lot of books. In the Otherworld series, we start with Elena changing into a wolf and wandering in the city, which is a short and sweet way to introduce werewolves. In the House in the Cerulean Sea, we have a first scene in an orphanage which shows how ophanages and the kids' power work.

Of course, all those worldbuilding scenes also start with action. The scene is just not immediately part of the main plot, but that doesn't mean it's an infodump.
 

lizmonster

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I got this advice from my editor too. She wasn't suggesting to start with an infodump, but with a short scene showing the most central fantasy element of the book. She gave the Amber Spyglass as example, where the first scene is Lyra and Pan alone, which gives us immediate intimate knowledge about daemons, and Six of Crows, in which there's a short prologue with a Grisha affected by the drug, which serves to introduce both the magic and the drug.

Yeah, I need to stop getting so cranky about the advice people get, because it can be read so many different ways. :) I agree that what your editor told you is good advice. It's good advice for not-spec-fic, too: ground the reader as soon as possible in whatever your setting is.

In my own limited experience, I've seen, sometimes, writers interpret this as beginning a book with a history lesson. "In the days before the Great Nebula Burst, our people were one people" and then we're all asleep.

Also, I love prologues, and "don't write prologues" is a bit of advice that flies around because for so many writers, "prologue" seems to equal "infodump." So my hackles get raised every time I see infodumps injected into the conversation.

When it comes down to it, the only good advice is the advice that keeps the reader. And that's going to be different from book to book.
 

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Anyone up for another question?

It is recommended that a story start at the very last second, dropping the reader straight into the action. However, it is noted that SFF...especially Fantasy...often starts somewhat slow due to world building and introduction to a usually large cast of characters. So what's your take on this matter? Slow start okay, or action packed BANG?
I've read a few SFF that start off with a bang. The world-building comes after they lose/win whatever was going on.

You have to set the stage of the MC, so world-building happens in every book, whether you have to describe elves, space federations, or political allies. How you do it while keeping the plot moving and not making it read like a history book is the hard part :)
 

jhe1valu

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By all means, please be honest with your agent from the beginning; smaller arcs completed for each of the first books will leave the reader satisfied when they've finished each of the first two, and the whammy at the end of book three will bowl them over, and they won't feel dissatisfied anywhere along the way.
My publisher suggested I divide my original work into two books; it was so logical, I was amazed I hadn't seen it myself. I'm in edit right now on book one; book two is complete waiting for a go, and I'm about halfway through writing book three, and I'm trusting that the first two do well enough that they'll want three. Good, honest communication with the publishing arm of this affair has been crucial for me, and I humbly recommend it for you.
Now, if I could just learn to write decent (ha-ha!) erotica, I'd be all set; I need it to tell the story of a lusty family through generations. Inkfinger and other AW members are providing much tough, but helpful crit toward this end, but it's not easy for me.
Soldier on, honest and forthright, and you'll make it!

"Nobody who ever stuck with it didn't make it" -"Packy" Axton - Thanks, Joe
 
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silverlorelei

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Yeah, I need to stop getting so cranky about the advice people get, because it can be read so many different ways. :) I agree that what your editor told you is good advice. It's good advice for not-spec-fic, too: ground the reader as soon as possible in whatever your setting is.

In my own limited experience, I've seen, sometimes, writers interpret this as beginning a book with a history lesson. "In the days before the Great Nebula Burst, our people were one people" and then we're all asleep.

Also, I love prologues, and "don't write prologues" is a bit of advice that flies around because for so many writers, "prologue" seems to equal "infodump." So my hackles get raised every time I see infodumps injected into the conversation.

When it comes down to it, the only good advice is the advice that keeps the reader. And that's going to be different from book to book.
I have a prologue for my story. It is sort of an infodump, in as much as it shows the reader events that occurred before the story begins. LOL But seriously, it's not an 'as you know Bob' and it's not a list of history or what the place is like. My prologue is a POV of people that are NOT POV in the text of the story. My prologue also does some heavy lifting on the culture and hints of what and why the bad guy is doing what he is. But just hints.

I love prologues, too!
 
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lizmonster

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I have a prologue for my story. It is sort of an infodump, in as much as it shows the reader events that occurred before the story begins. LOL But seriously, it's not an 'as you know Bob' and it's not a list of history or what the place is like. My prologue is a POV of people that are NOT POV in the text of the story. My prologue also does some heavy lifting on the culture and hints of what and why the bad guy is doing what he is. But just hints.

I love prologues, too!
LOL yeah, I didn't know "no prologues" was a thing until after I sold my first book. (Which of course has a prologue!)

I wrote my most recent book without a prologue...and my agent at the time had me add one. I just write prologue-y stuff, I guess.

Short, interesting, targeted: they can be brilliant. :)
 

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Did you read the faqs and stickies? Have you done some crits for other people? Taken time to see how critique works and how to use it? Whose will suit you and whose won't?

*sigh*
Yep, I've done three critiques so far. I'm unfortunately a slow reader because I read every word. It's the way my poor brain works. I remember being in a special class in elementary school where they were trying to get me to read faster. But in order for my mind to drop into the world I'm reading about, I have to read every word. I also can't listen to audio books, because I 'hear' the characters' voices while I read, and someone else reading is so off-putting for me it actually makes me angry. (I'm also one of those that can't stand mouth noises.)

Wow. Way too much info...LOL

Yes, I've also read the stickies and stuff. A lot of them are just common sense, but good to read anyway.
 

silverlorelei

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LOL yeah, I didn't know "no prologues" was a thing until after I sold my first book. (Which of course has a prologue!)

I wrote my most recent book without a prologue...and my agent at the time had me add one. I just write prologue-y stuff, I guess.

Short, interesting, targeted: they can be brilliant. :)
Woohoo! A fellow prologuer! LOL
 
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Yep, I've done three critiques so far. I'm unfortunately a slow reader because I read every word. It's the way my poor brain works. I remember being in a special class in elementary school where they were trying to get me to read faster. But in order for my mind to drop into the world I'm reading about, I have to read every word. I also can't listen to audio books, because I 'hear' the characters' voices while I read, and someone else reading is so off-putting for me it actually makes me angry. (I'm also one of those that can't stand mouth noises.)

Wow. Way too much info...LOL

Yes, I've also read the stickies and stuff. A lot of them are just common sense, but good to read anyway.
And there's something new you've learnt, then: Reading someone else's work and writing a critique takes a lot of time and effort. A lot. It's always a good day when you learn something new about writing! :D

I'm careful about committing to beta-reading a novel because I fully expect to put somewhere between 20 and 100 hours of work into it. And I'm also careful about asking for crit. If I put up a short story in Share Your Work, say 2500 words, and ten people crit it and another five give me advice about markets, pacing, and balancing the use of swear words, at a rough guess that's at least 20 hours of time that the community has gifted me. Me, I don't ask for that up front unless I've already spent at least 40 hours critting other folks. Not just because it's the decent thing to do, but also because I learn as much from critting other folks as I do from writing myself.
 

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LOL yeah, I didn't know "no prologues" was a thing until after I sold my first book. (Which of course has a prologue!)

I wrote my most recent book without a prologue...and my agent at the time had me add one. I just write prologue-y stuff, I guess.

Short, interesting, targeted: they can be brilliant. :)
Yep: short, interesting, and targeted is the key!

I generally skim/skip nearly all prologues in F, because in my experience they're usually shite. But I'm currently beta reading a F novel which has what's one of the best prologues I've ever read, and it works so perfectly well with the story that it practically sings. So now I'm cautiously converted back to prologues :D
 

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Yep: short, interesting, and targeted is the key!

I generally skim/skip nearly all prologues in F, because in my experience they're usually shite. But I'm currently beta reading a F novel which has what's one of the best prologues I've ever read, and it works so perfectly well with the story that it practically sings. So now I'm cautiously converted back to prologues :D
If they don't grab you in the first 200 words, I give you permission to bail. :)
 
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jhe1valu

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My prologue stank and others on AW let me know; I received very useful crit;I'm rewriting it to make it better-suited to introduce my historical fiction novel. Languid prose in the body of the work doesn't mean it works for an intro, and confusion about which characters are real versus fictional should be avoided at all costs; my publisher required an affidavit to affirm that, aside from noted historical figures, any not found in research were, indeed, purely fictional.
All this was because of two ill-chosen words in my prologue.

Live and learn
, Joe
 
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Nether

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Years ago, I did prologues. Nowadays I kinda avoid them, although in multi-POV works I sometimes start with a lesser POV which, in a way, can serve as a prologue. (Although not a throwaway character just yet, but some projects on the horizon will do that... if I ever get to them. In one case, it's a book I kept fizzling out on over the years, so I worry about jinxing myself by writing it.)

I'm careful about committing to beta-reading a novel because I fully expect to put somewhere between 20 and 100 hours of work into it

Yeah, a beta read or critique can take as long as drafting a novel at times :LOL:

But I can go overboard with notes at times and these days I'm a slower reader anyway.
 
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mccardey

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Yep, I've done three critiques so far. I'm unfortunately a slow reader because I read every word. It's the way my poor brain works. I remember being in a special class in elementary school where they were trying to get me to read faster. But in order for my mind to drop into the world I'm reading about, I have to read every word. I also can't listen to audio books, because I 'hear' the characters' voices while I read, and someone else reading is so off-putting for me it actually makes me angry. (I'm also one of those that can't stand mouth noises.)

Wow. Way too much info...LOL

Yes, I've also read the stickies and stuff. A lot of them are just common sense, but good to read anyway.
It's good if you have done now, although you hadn't when I posted. On the other hand, you've had a lot more feedback than you've given, and you're still asking for more. If reading is difficult for you, I wonder if working through crits for other people will teach you more than any beta can?

Doing crit usually involves the critiquer in a bit of mental puzzle-solving and fix-finding just incidentally, as they work. It might be a much better tool as an early way of learning about your own writing.
 
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