No, peeps, I’m not going to talk about geometry. Y’all can heave a collective sigh of relief. (Geometry. Sucks.) The real subject of the post is quite different.

You probably have read a book series in your lifetime in which one (or more) of the books was unnecessary. Well, maybe it was necessary for plot points and such, but it dragged and you just didn’t like it. I know I have. (Magic Study, anyone?)

No author would intentionally write a dull book (at least, none that I can think of…). But there are really no set rules to deciding how many books you want to include in a series. There’s a huge trend going on in YA novels in which trilogies are now a thing. I’m not exactly what started the trend, but it’s…a thing now. I personally prefer stand-alones or duos, just because no book is so spectacular and amazing that you’ll remember every single plot point and I like remembering stuff so that I’m not terribly confused. When I read UnWholly, the sequel to Unwind by Neal Shusterman, I couldn’t remember much of the climax in the first book, and had to patch together memories as they slowly returned. This problem obviously presents itself with duos, as well, but it isn’t quite so hard to keep track of everything.

It sounds like I’m dissing trilogies, and I’m not. Well, sort of. I’m sick of reading them, but that doesn’t mean that every trilogy is awful. I love the Hunger GamesUnwind, and Hex Hall trilogies. And yes, 95% of the time the author just feels that the story needs 3 books and isn’t trying to follow the trend or anything. But I’m just sorta tired of trilogies.

But it all comes down to the author and the story (duh). If the story won’t need any follow-up and will end somewhat definitely, then one book is all you need. If there’s too much information to contain in one novel, then two or three books would be a better choice. The novel I’m currently working on (that is, pretending to) is about a Royal Warrior who gets caught up in the planning of a revolution in book 1. The revolution itself will take place in book 2. But the story isn’t complex enough for me to extend it throughout three or more books. Therefore, I’m making a duo. Simple.

Lately, authors have been sticking to shorter series, typically trilogies or stand-alones. But there are series that extend for longer periods, and, strangely enough, most of the authors who write long series write them well. Take, for example, the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. I love Harry Potter. It’s one of my favorite series (if not my absolute favorite). There are seven books in all, and each book is increasingly longer. Yet I never got bored of the plot (except a little in Chamber of Secrets–my least favorite book of the series). Rowling gives each book a plot of its own (the first deals with the quest for the Sorcerer’s Stone, the second, the search for Ginny and the mystery of the Chamber of Secrets, et cetera), but everything ties into the main plot: Voldemort’s rise of DARKNESS AND DOOM. *evil music* The seven books were all connected, yet they didn’t each dwell on the one subject of Voldemort and his evilness, and so on. It was rather ingenious. So, longer series can work out very well–you just need to be a really good author. Other examples of longer series that were epic are the Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander and the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan. Check them out. You might like them.

Moving on.

Unless you live in a hole, you’ll know that there’s been a lengthy trend in YA fiction of writing dystopia. Or utopia. FUTURISTIC NOVELS, okay? Most of these novels are parts of trilogies. And I’ve found there’s a simple formula for these novels:

Book 1: Protagonist lives in this awful society. He wants to change it (or maybe doesn’t), but it seems impossible. He meets people who want to rebel. Something happens that sparks this rebellion (small or large).

Book 2: There’s a rebellion building as all the people who have been lying around doing nothing for all these years realize that the government is corrupt and evil and stuff. People start rising up in protestation and so forth. The rebellion breaks loose.

Book 3: WAR. (Widows, orphans, a motherless child…Ahem. Sorry.) The government is falling. The protagonist probably has some scars by now, and is likely involved in a love triangle. The rebels win the war, and a new, happy government starts. The love triangle is resolved, possibly tragically. The end.

Not every YA futuristic novel follows this formula, obviously. But there are a good number that do. This type of story-arc is perfect for a trilogy. Except…sometimes not. Sometimes books drag. (Like Mockingjay.) Sometimes there isn’t enough information and action and stuff happening to make the story interesting. But the author’s in a pickle because the story can’t possibly fit into two books, yet three is too many. Such problems.

But it’s up to the author. And the characters. And the plot. The characters need to grow over the space of the book(s). The plot needs to build nicely and then resolve over the space of the book(s). And only the author will know how many books it will take. I’m not telling you to write a stand-alone, or a duo, or a trilogy, or a whatever. This is just me flinging my opinion into space because I like to do that. Any number of books satisfies me if they’re all written well and enjoyable. It’s SO SIMPLE!

Wow. This is a lot of disjointed craziness. Um…I’m just gonna click Publish and stop thinking, savvy?

See you when I see you. If I see you. Ever.

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Comments
  1. Paulina Czarnecki says:

    SAVVY!
    Sorry. :) This is very true though. I’m writing a kind-of-dystopian-but-more-alternate-history series right now, and I’m making it into a trilogy because my main characters’ goal is to end a war that’s been going on for a hundred years. Which you can’t really fit into one book. But now that you wrote this, (and because I’m looking for late Act II/early Act III disasters and haven’t thought of anything yet for my sequel) maybe I’ll just keep it down to two books?
    And, because what you said about desensitized citizens is true–they only realize something is wrong when the heroes come along–I’m glad I have that one covered. :)
    Anyhow, thanks for the post, gave me some food for thought and that.

  2. Andrea says:

    Thanks! And you’re welcome! :P

    Yeah, it all depends on the plot points you need to have in the book…If they’re able to be fitted into 2 books, that’s cool (But then there’s the possibility of having a really loooooooong novel, which could be good or bad :)), but having a trilogy is cool too, as long as there’s necessary schtuff in each of the books. :D (ALSO, if you’re struggling with coming up with a disaster, kill somebody! I’m kidding. That’s my advice for every writing issue. :P)

  3. nevillegirl says:

    Maybe some authors write trilogies because plays often have three acts. Suzanne Collins was a script writer before she started writing books, and she has three books divided into three parts each… oops, wait, her Underland Chronicles is five books long. Hmm. That doesn’t really prove my point. xD

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