After seeing the second Hobbit Movie and the second Hunger Games movie, I’ve come to realize something about trilogies. I mention the Hobbit because it isn’t a trilogy at all, and I’m using it as a bad example for the sake of this post.
When an author creates a book with a trilogy in mind there is a certain acceptable format people fall into. The first movie/book is self-contained and teases that there is more in the wings. The reason this happens is business. If the first book doesn’t sell, it has closure. But a lot of good comes from this limitation.
No one likes an unfinished story. You don’t go to the Thanksgiving dinner and drool over the spread only to get a few nibbles of Turkey. Some authors don’t seem to understand this. Writing a book is attending Thanksgiving that you’re not obligated to go to. You’re not there to make your family happy. You’re there for some good food.
“The Turkey is a little dry. Can you pass the Gravy please?”
“There’ll be gravy, next year!”
You don’t get between me and my gravy, damn it. If this year’s turkey is dry. Give me some gravy. “It’ll be in the next book.” isn’t a good answer to most questions. Though it is acceptable if it’s only a small detail you’re teasing. It isn’t acceptable when it regards an issue threatening the Protagonist now.
Obviously you can’t make all of the people happy all of the time, but this is why it is important to have complete strangers look over your work. It never fails to amaze when I review something for someone and they argue with me.
Putting the shoe on the other foot, if someone says something ludicrous:
“Hey. This Turkey tastes like blueberries.”
The correct response isn’t: “No it doesn’t.” As an author (the Chef of this Phantom Thanksgiving) it falls on you to taste your turkey and ask how could anyone think it tastes like blueberries? If it doesn’t. You have the right to dismiss your critic’s opinion. Though you risk isolating all the people agree with that critic, you need to confirm that you don’t mind doing that.
The ‘raving lunatic’ mistaking turkey for blueberries is doing you a favor. They are giving you a viewpoint you wouldn’t have without them. Thank them, investigate, and adjust per your best judgment.
Once you have a market and you’re a New York Times Bestseller, you can bend the rules of course. But while you’re drawing people in with promises and glimpses of a tasty meal, you better count on book one sending away your reader with a full belly and lots of memories.
Honestly, if not for the fact that the Hobbit was the child of the grandfather of epic fantasy, I wouldn’t have gone to see the second movie. Not because it was bad, but because it didn’t leave me feeling content. I made up ground on the second movie, but more because of fun special effects and the experience than the story telling.
Catching Fire hit on all sixes in my eyes. The Hunger Games impressed me enough to make seeing the second movie a no brainer, heck, I liked Catching fire in movie from better than the book. Where I lurched into Mockingjay out of obligation in book form rather than the excitement I feel towards the third and *groan* fourth Hunger Games movie.
That said I’ll be loading up my kindle with some trilogies to see how other people work their magic in book 1.