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such a nasty woman | by maryann johanson

question of the weekend: Should writers be encouraged to write multivolume novels?

This weekend’s question comes from reader bats, who wants to know:

Should writers be encouraged to write multivolume novels?

bats explains:

Tolkien managed an amazing trilogy. Rowling kept up the energy for seven.

A number of stories are great out of the gate, but falter by Book 3 or 4 or X. (I attended a lecture regarding the Twilight series, and the first book was intended as a stand-alone novel, until the agents and publishers and most likely the LDS church pushed Meyer for more. I thought the first one was an agreeable goofy teenager with a crush story.) I’ve heard of problems with Pullman’s His Dark Materials by book 3 (I’ve read this, and it just wandered off into the high weeds as far as I was concerned), and with Collins’ Hunger Games.

I just keep coming back to it, as I’m a volunteer for our local Friends of the Public Library, and there’s a heck of a lot of sequels out there, and I’m constantly reminded of the latest Narnia [movie] adaptation that will likely never be finished, Pullman’s novels that won’t be (then again, the first sucked, and apparently with Pullman’s okay…sigh).

I think bats’ example of the first Twilight book is instructive: Writers don’t have to be encouraged to write book series, because it’s almost expected these days. Just as how it’s easier to market movies that are part of a franchise or are sourced from material that audiences are already familiar with, so it is with books. I think you’d probably hear frustration from many writers who would like to write a standalone novel but know that it would be a tough sell.

On the other hand, perhaps bats is asking whether it’s a good idea that writers are already being encouraged to write series. In which case I suspect that that horse has long since sailed, and at least in the current publishing paradigm, it’s not going to change.

Anyway: Your thoughts on multivolume novels?

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD/QOTW, feel free to email me. Responses to this QOTW sent by email will be ignored; please post your responses here.)

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