Saturday, October 14, 2006

Title and concerns

So I'm working on a fantasy trilogy. The first book is mostly finished, other than one final read for minor errors and the like. The second book has some editing yet and rewriting, and I'm waiting to hear from a few folks who are reading it. The third book is in the middle of being written, and I'm at about 55,000 words.

All in all, the trilogy should be roughly about 200,000 words when I'm finished with it. If I went by the first drafts of each book, the series would be closer to 300,000 words, but I have a tendency to chop out lots during rewrite.

Now, I'm going by ACTUAL word counts, not by multiplying the average number of words per line by the number number of lines per page, then multiplying that by the number of total pages. By that count, I'm back up closer to 300,000 words. So, which number do I use to tell publishers? I've been using the actual count. Guess I'll stick with that.

And considering the size of many modern fantasy books, I've thought of just trying to sell the trilogy as one large book. If that were the case, the title I'm considering is "The First Magic." The reasons why I like that title come to light in the third book.

Which raises a concern for me.

There are some religious elements to my trilogy. There is a religious history important to the story, and much of it has to do with religious beliefs in the world I've created, from both political and spiritual aspects. However, for better or worse, none of this comes to light until late in the overall story. In fact, it doesn't really come to light until halfway or a little more through the third book of the trilogy.

My concern: Is this cheating the reader?

The first two books are basically action/adventure, sort of sword and sorcery. There is little to hint at the religious aspect which rears its head late in the third book. I'm wondering if all that's too much of a shift in gears for the reader.

Should I go back to the first two books and throw in some hints?

I guess you can't know unless you've read my works, but thought I'd seek some advice.


Anonymous said...

Ty ...

I'd definitely try to foreshadow the religious angle in both book one and book two. Not necessarily throw in lots of it or even try to enmesh it in the plot, but make sure you have that background as part of your world-building, even if it's in small dashes here and there.

I say that because I think having book three be too drastically different in tone from books one and two would unbalance the series a bit. And you'd likely have some readers wondering "why is he all of a sudden bringing all this churchy stuff into it? That ain;t like the first two books! I want my money back!"

-- Steve

zornhau said...

Speaking purely as a reader - if I engage with your adventure story for 2 books, only to find it's Pilgrim's Progress, I will in fact hunt you down like a dog.

Trilogies should deliver what they promise.

People who've done religion well include Fienteuch(sp) Hope series, and Simon R Green's Shadows Fall. Basically, the religious stuff needs to be on the map - both mental and physical - from the start.

Why not just fix the third book and stay with the heroic fantasy?

Ty said...

I just want to clear up for anyone ... I'm not writing a story with any sort of religious agenda. I'm not using any themes that have any direct link to real-world relgions. That's not me. I'm not a Christian or Muslim or Buddhist or Hindu. If anything, I tend to be an agnostic with beliefs leaning toward deism (basically, there's a supreme being, but we can't know this being and he's not real interested in us either, at least not on a daily basis).

I'm just concerned readers will think I am pushing some religious agenda. I'm not. It's just part of the plot. Really.

I think I'm going to go with zornhau's advice, and cut back on the religious stuff as much as possible. I can't do away with it altogether, but I can limit its scope, so to speak ... er, write.

invertebrae said...

i agree that it's worth foreshadowing the religion.

crazy question for you though....

is there any way you could make this into a 2 volume epic? you'd clock in at or around the 100,000 wordmark per volume, making it both a nice sized read and a consumable format as far as manuscripts.

i ask not having read it at all, or seeing a query, but i ask it nonetheless.


Ty said...

Ryan, it would be difficult to break the story into two 100,000 word novels, mainly because of where major plot elements are located.

However, I could combine the first two books, or the last two books. With some cutting I could end up with one book at about 120,000 words and another one at about 80,000 words.

But I'm still writing the third book. I'm at 55,000 words now, and I'm guessing I've at least another 30,000 words to go (but it might turn out to be a little more).

zornhau said...

Have you sold/tried to sell the 1st book?

Ty said...

The first book is sitting in Baen's slush queue, and word is they are about a year behind on their slush.

Ty said...

To add, yes, the first book has been looked at by Wizards of the Coast and Tor.
Wizards sent me the typical form rejection.
But Tor sent me a nice note basically saying I had some good work, but it wasn't what they were looking for right now.

Anonymous said...

I think you're just fretting. Write it. Tell the story as envisioned, then pass it off to your friendly neighborhood critique team.

That said, I have trouble reconciling the title "The First Magic" with the novel I read.