Invisible Burden of the Trilogy


March 19, 2014 by Sandi

noun: trilogy; plural noun: trilogies
  1. 1.
    a group of three related novels, plays, films, operas, or albums.
    • (in ancient Greece) a series of three tragedies performed one after the other.
    • a group or series of three related things.
      “a trilogy of cases reflected this development”
from Greek trilogia, from tri- ‘three times’ + logos ‘story.’

In the current publishing climate, I am seeing a divergent (See what I did, there?) set of perspectives regarding trilogies. On the one hand, folks like them because they are considered to be an extending of a story involving characters the reader has come to love/hate and this is pleasing. On the other hand, the story often changes or ends in a way that a reader might find unsatisfactory.

Because, let’s face it, life DOES that. If your life were a trilogy, would YOU expect to be where you are, now?

I digress.

As I am writing the final book in what is, in fact, a trilogy, I have to confront the general expectations of those who read trilogies. And I have to confront the fact that I am not and never have been a terribly conventional sort of person.

A trilogy is, as per the definition above, a group of three related novels. Related. That is, they are bound together by common theme or purpose, as well as (often) a character or two. Or more.

ECM smallMy trilogy has three separate books, each with its own story arc, but they are related. They are pointing to a place in history that I always intended to get to, and I’m there, just about, in my current writing. It’s a burden to shoulder, though, when I know how people sort of expect trilogies to conclude. A burden that I hadn’t fully considered when the idea originally occurred to me, once upon a time.

But still, I persevere. I am trying to balance my ideal for this final book—

—As an aside, it is highly intimidating and frustrating to write a trilogy and publish it and be unable to go back and tinker with earlier books in the series—

Eires-Viking-3D-Paperback—with the role the final book in a trilogy should play. Because, honestly, to me a trilogy is a series of three related books. But to many, it’s a saga that should end in a certain way.

So, I continue to write, adding a scene here and there, progressing forward in my ultimate design for this final Viking book. I fret, I dance, I look up dates and names, I check the weather patterns for the 9th century…

And I enjoy the process.

I hope my readers will enjoy the result. Both of this book and the entire trilogy.
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5 thoughts on “Invisible Burden of the Trilogy

  1. Writing a ‘trilogy’ of books with a similar theme/setting but separate stories is pretty common. Lois McMaster Bujold does it with her Chalion Series, Stephen Lawhead did it with one or two series of his as well and I could go on. So it isn’t unseen…at least in the Scifi/Fantasy circles. Most people that read that genre are fully aware of the ins and outs of trilogies and longer series.

    OF course, the audience that reads historical fiction and romance may be a different creature entirely. I don’t know what the tropes of series length are in that sector. I do know that if you like what you write, chances are there will be at least one other person that likes it. Even if there people don’t like the eventual ending? That may prompt the book to be sold in massive quantities. Especially if people find they want to discuss it and ruminant on the ending.

    I’m sure you’ll do a great job, though. People love your work and are looking forward to what you bring. Even if it isn’t what they expect.

  2. Jack Flacco says:

    This is a “who shot first” post, Sandi! Everyone knows it was Han Solo and not Greedo who shot first! ;) I digress…

    I only mention this because I’ve seen how a first book could be a success and subsequent releases in the trilogy become a disappointment because the writer writes himself into a corner. Then, I’ve also heard of a second version of the first book that “corrects” issues in order to prevent inconsistencies from happening with the second and third book. Gosh, are we talking about the series Lost?

    • Sandi says:

      Hi, Jack!

      Hey, I’m cool with Han shooting first. Pre-emptive action saves lives!

      I am fortunate in that this trilogy is not something about which I will find myself in a corner, simply because I knew where it would end before I got rolling on the edits for book the first. I guess, I’d just like the opportunity to add vocabulary and detail to the earlier books. lol

      And I never saw LOST, so … I’ll leave that one to you. :)

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Sandi Layne

Sandi Layne

Writing from time to time...

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