How big is your novel?

Christina Ranallo Uncategorized Leave a Comment

Wanted: book with series potential, lots and lots of potential

Wanted: book with series potential, lots and lots of potential

Whether it’s fantasy, science fiction, paranormal YA, gothic horror or historical romance, any time there are plural worlds, characters and time periods you get a BIG NOVEL.

When a writer feels a strong obligation to a storytelling vision there is very little to be done short of writing the thousands of words necessary to fulfill that vision. And thousands of words mean more than one book, usually a trilogy.

Except no matter how big the story is there will always be one novel that is the most important novel of any series.

The first one.

I think whether or not authors plan to write multiple books, they know the story and all they want is to tell it. The question is how to tell it?

No matter how many books it takes to tell a story the first novel has to grab the audience or why would anyone want the rest?

It’s all about the reader and if the first book sells there is an audience to play to again and again. The better the first performance the more likely the word will spread and future performances will sell out.

As I am reminded by this quote from author Rebecca Forster:   “Writing a series is like when a dinner guest becomes a roommate.”

While writing a big story is daunting, it is also in demand because of the long-range sales potential. But from what I’ve read, agents say:

Publishers don’t buy trilogies as much as they buy books with ‘series potential’.

Unless you are George R.R. Martin.

Vanity Fair published a query letter from Martin last year that proposed the mammoth Game of Thrones franchise as a trilogy. Talk about ‘series potential’.

Serializing novels is nothing new.

Stephen King published The Green Mile in six paperbacks: the first five were ninety-two pages and the last was one hundred and forty-four pages. And Tom Wolfe’s Bonfire of the Vanities began as a 27-week installment in Rolling Stone. Right now The Huffington Post is publishing serial novels.

Series, serials, trilogies or just a really really big novel – it’s up to you. Whatever you choose you will need stamina and direction. I want to leave you with a quote from one of my favorite writers, Ursula Le Guin: 

The novel. When a novel gets going and finds its necessary course, its momentum carries me along like a boat on a river. If I’m the writer, I’m the pilot, steering the craft the best I can; but I’m also free, because I’m carried by the power and following the way of the water.

Keep writing and find your own momentum to write novel number ONE no matter how big your story is.



Need help finishing your big novel?

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