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50

It is perfectly fine for your story to end with the "bad guy" winning. Consider for example George Orwell's 1984: He loved Big Brother Complete and utter defeat. 1984 is one of last century's masterpieces. @Wetcircuit mentions tragedy in a comment, for good reason. Tragedy does not necessarily imply that the "bad guys" win, but it does imply the "good ...


34

There are more things you can do with stakes than escalate ad nauseam. First, you can vary the threat. For example, Buffy jokes more than once about "saving the world again". The difference comes from saving the world from different things; a new threat might require a new approach, pose a tougher challenge than the previous threat, etc. Second, there ...


33

It is neither necessary nor desirable to fit everything you've generated for a story into the story In my reading I have encountered, broadly speaking, two different kinds of stories. There are tightly-plotted stories which attempt to resolve and give closure to every thread the author introduces. (The Westing Game comes to mind.) This is great. On the ...


27

I'm sure many people here are familiar enough with episodes of Doctor Who from 2005 onwards to know they faced this problem. Here's my advice: do what the series did from 1963 to 1989 instead. In other words, don't try giving each arc higher stakes than the last one at all; just write each arc in its own terms, building on old continuity only when you have ...


25

Welcome to the world of writers. That isn't sarcasm, by the way, that's truth. Let me tell you about my own tale, with a novel (series) called Altar of Warlords. This story has gone through a dozen major revisions, is being turned down right and left, and when I FINALLY have an agent that requests a full manuscript for her approval I'm so caught off-guard ...


22

...you decide to change to a new protagonist. The reason isn't important... I cannot let this pass. The reason is paramount. If your story is character-driven, switching protagonist probably makes little or no sense, unless the person is killed and someone else has to carry the torch (but it is not the case, I understand). If your story is plot-driven, ...


19

The main problem with trying to estimate something like this is that, even if two writers used the same very detailed plot summary to write a novel, they might produce works that aren't close to being the same length, because of the way they write. Some authors are much more "concise" than others; for example, Voltaire's Candide has been described as a 1,...


19

Other than an explicit "disclaimer" in an author's note or something, I really don't think you can. If I buy five books set in a dystopian fantasy (I might), I will be disappointed if the sixth book is a romantic comedy. My best suggestion would be to be explicit in a sub-title or something, and call it out. Call this the "XYZ Worlds" series and in the sub-...


17

There are a few ways to solve this: 1) Switch narrators. Everything is told by your main character until his/her death, at which point some other character finishes the story. 2) Your narrator continues narrating from after death in some supernatural fashion. Your narrator could become a ghost or spirit, wander disembodied, communicate through Ouija ...


16

It's rare, but not unheard of for a series to shift genres as it progresses --with Harry Potter perhaps being the most notable example. As the protagonists grow up, the style and content of the books shift to follow them. Far from being a detriment, this was arguably a key reason for the series' success. And, of course, we're used to seeing this in more ...


14

Alice: Do you remember how the villain from a month ago always said how he wanted to kill us? Bob: Hm-mm? Alice: Well, this new villain wants to kill us ... and murder our dog, too! A solution could be: Avoid falling into the trap completely Don't set up a crescendo. Decide what's the story arc you wanna tell and stick with it. Make the story ...


14

Your girlfriend is correct that the bad guy winning at the end limits your audience, and will anger some readers. But it's important that you write your own book, not the book you think you should write. If you really connect with the material, and you execute it well, there are readers out there who will be as passionate about it as you are. A book aimed at ...


13

Really simple answer is this: Write one book. Tie up all the loose ends. Make it one complete story. But imagine it as book one of a series. Don't let we the reader know that -- it should be undetectable to us, but you will know there's potential for a series. When sending to agents and publishers ensure you include the golden words: "Stand-alone novel ...


13

It's hard to build a recognizable identity while genre-hopping. The more successful you are with any one style or genre, the more both readers and publishers are going to demand more of the same. Based on my observations of writers in the wild, however, there are several potentially successful strategies for mitigating this. Be insanely prolific: Stephen ...


13

What keeps writers writing is the utter impossibility of not writing. Tolkien had no hope of ever publishing The Silmarillion, yet he kept writing and rewriting and editing and re-editing it throughout his life. Keats was receiving negative reviews, yet he didn't quit writing and turn to medicine, though he had the education for it. Writing is a fire in one'...


12

I suggest you start with an Innocent (or an Outsider) — a Cabbagehead kind of character, someone who doesn't know anything about your world so the world has to be explained to and/or experienced by this character. This gives you an easy path to explain things about your world to the reader, because everything is also being explained to the character. Once ...


12

I feel like publishers would regard trilogies as a safer bet than a long-winded series. But then again, publishers regard works from well-known authors as a safer bet, too. To paraphrase Brandon Sanderson (as talking of his latest series, The Stormlight Archives), once you start getting fame (and some sales below your belt) you will have more leeway, since ...


11

I think this is a TV/Comic problem. What I mean by that is you're used to ingesting stories which are made for TV, probably broadcast; or comics where each issue must progress with the same cast and have hundreds of stories. They have very short amounts of time to tell individual stories and if they engage in development, rather than returning to the same ...


10

There are three ways of answering your question: Professionalism: Some people recognize that frequent rejections are simply an intrinsic part of this particular job, and don't take them personally, or allow them to slow them down. I don't actually know anyone who has achieved this frame of mind, but it stands to reason people like this must exist --I ...


9

I think the question really boils down to: what/whose story are you trying to tell? And is it a single story? Look at Jim Butcher's Dresden Files stories, for example. Those are almost all centered around the titular Harry Dresden, and he is the POV character for most of the books. The story is his story. Eventually, there are some peripheral characters ...


9

You don't need to describe your main characters in detail as you would have done in your first book. However, you do need to briefly describe their key/relevant features so that someone, who is reading your sequel without having read your first book (which is pretty common), can quickly get an idea of who your character is and get straight into the story (...


9

In a series, I expect to find one of three approaches: a) One single plot that covers the entire series and which is divided into smaller parts in order to give each book some level of closure b) One plot that covers the entire series, and smaller plots that start and end in each book. c) small plots that start and end in each book, with the unifying line ...


9

Unless you are a famous author with a track record of finishing books, publishers are going to judge you based on the first book, alone. Each book in a trilogy (or longer series) has to stand on its own, in particular the first book, it must be a complete story in itself. You can have a plan, an outline of your whole series, or not. You don't actually have ...


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