In light of the forthcoming release of the third part of the Book of Water, Enchantress Destiny being released at the beginning of may and the complete trilogy version being released a month later. We thought we’d look at this question more generally.
The trilogy is a well-known staple of films, books and games. So much so that almost everything now has to be a trilogy. The number three is very satisfying but is it always what people want?
Tolkien famously never regarded The Lord of the Rings as a trilogy. That was his publishers idea. Yet when it came to making the films splitting it into three was a no-brainer. Is this the eternal truth? Is it that writers prefer a single, complete story whereas the audience needs a more digestible chunks?
We’re polling this on twitter at the moment and would be really interested to know people’s thoughts with regard to books and fantasy books, in particular. In the meantime, here’s a (very) short case for both sides.
Every writer wants their book read and many people would be intimidated by a 900-page brick. Length can be an initial barrier for many, even if in the event they would be able to manage. This remains true even once a reader has decided to take it on. War & Peace is famously one of the least finished books. We all like a sense of progress and huge books don’t make it easy for us. When you’ve read 100 pages you should feel like you’re well into a story and not just scratching the surface. Reading is a time-consuming process the less like a slog it seems the more people will do it.
First of all, a distinction should be made. There’s a difference between a book having two sequels and breaking up a longer tale. The reason writers don’t like their books split into three is because they are not three separate stories. It is a single story that should be read in order. Who wants to read Return of the King if you haven’t read the other two first? Also, this artificial split puts a lot of pressure on the first book to be the gateway to the others as well as being a complete story in its own right. We don’t judge films and plays simply by watching the first act. Novels should be no different.