After my recent experience with a ‘first book in the series’ that wasn’t a complete story at all, I’ve been thinking about why trilogies/ series are so often like that.
As a commercial strategy it must work for publishers or they wouldn’t do it, but considering I avoid reading an entire genre because unfinished stories really annoy me, I wonder how much it costs publishers in loss of readers like me? Maybe I’m just a rare fussy person!
From the other side of it… I know writers who’s stories gets too large for one book, and then agonise over where to split it and if they can make three books out of it. But isn’t that a shame in itself? If you only have story enough for two, yet that’s not the publishing fashion so you stretch the story to three, the writing is almost guaranteed to suffer.
As a writer I think it’s silly to hurt good story telling just to squeeze an extra purchase from readers, and I know plenty who give up on authors because a trilogy was weak in the middle or at the end (or both!).
But then I suppose if it makes me more money as a writer I’d be foolish not to agree, right? Hmm…
Maybe it’s about setting expectations – market the kind of books I’m talking about as Act 1 etc so readers know straight-up they’ll get no resolution. Reserve ‘Book 1’ for when each book has a proper story arc and ending. Could open up a whole new sub-genre of novel length serials… I wonder if anyone in publishing land is reading this? 🙂