December 14, 2019, 06:07:18 AM

Author Topic: Last books in series (usually bigger than trilogies)  (Read 404 times)

Offline ScarletBea

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Last books in series (usually bigger than trilogies)
« on: November 07, 2019, 07:57:14 AM »
So I'm currently reading Brent Week's last, The burning white.
I'm only about 150 pages in (out of 920) so it's still early days, but my first impressions are:
+ it doesn't have annoying things like book 4
- I miss drafting luxin, it almost feels like it's not relevant anymore (of course I bet this will change later)
- I feel that it could have been edited (i.e. cut) more to the benefit of the plot and pace - some scenes just drag and have pointless stuff...

Which begs the question: if the first books of the series have great fame and success, does the publisher give the writer free rein in the last book(s), thinking whatever comes out will be bought/read? Even if the book would be much better shorter? I think this has happened in the past, hehe, with Harry Potter and ASoIaF.
« Last Edit: November 07, 2019, 10:54:45 AM by ScarletBea »
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Offline cupiscent

Re: Last books in series (usually bigger than trilogies)
« Reply #1 on: November 07, 2019, 10:31:27 AM »
It's an interesting consideration!

I certainly feel like we get that in Harry Potter - perhaps not so much that the later books get less editorial attention, but certainly that they get less attention from the author. I mean, Philosopher's Stone got rejected, what, nineteen times? Absolutely she revised that book at least a few times - beyond what it had already been revised before she started submitting it - during that process. By the time the book actually went in front of an in-house editor, JKR had already been over it many, many times. In contrast, when she was writing the later books, there just wasn't the time for her to mull things over again and again. People were clamouring.

So I think part of it is less "giving free rein" so much as "having less time". Editors do the same work, but they get a less polished product to start with, and possibly also have less time to work with it. (i.e. they can't go back to the author for multiple rounds of revisions because the production deadline is looming.)

And then of course there's always Anne Rice. :P

Offline ScarletBea

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Re: Last books in series (usually bigger than trilogies)
« Reply #2 on: November 07, 2019, 11:55:43 AM »
Hmmm interesting take, I see what you mean.
It works for HP but not ASoIaF, as he'd been writing for years before finishing Dance with Dragons.

What about Anne Rice? I don't think I've read one of her books in years.
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Offline Peat

Re: Last books in series (usually bigger than trilogies)
« Reply #3 on: November 07, 2019, 09:18:24 PM »
I like cupiscent's point. I think its wise. I also think that to an extent we might want to consider the nature of fatigue. Harry Potter was 17 years beginning to end. I think that doing something that intense, that involving, for that long... it will tire you out. That tiredness can erode judgement, makes people impatient - or nervous. The pressure too is a big issue. And on and on - I think the study of how prolonged acts of creation impacts people is a very worthwhile one that's not really been done. Authors get more ambitious too. Get confident, then overconfident.

But with all this said, yes. Insofar as I've ever heard, successful authors get more licence - and its always welcome when they turn in more words for the cash cow (coughrobertjordancough). They can blow through deadlines more easily, win more arguments with editors, etc.etc.

I'm now trying to think of an author who got faster paced and more brief with time and it is not easy.

Offline cupiscent

Re: Last books in series (usually bigger than trilogies)
« Reply #4 on: November 07, 2019, 09:58:10 PM »
What about Anne Rice? I don't think I've read one of her books in years.

There's an old kerfuffle about Anne Rice refusing to be edited. (Some discussion of it over here, including a link to the original Facebook post where Ms Rice talks about refusing editorial comment... which is difficult to read but looks like it has a lengthy additional comment from her about that not being quite what she meant.) But broadly, the original quote that I've seen discussed at length was, "Everything after Queen of the Damned was 'unedited'." Which supports the idea that you can get away with this stuff once you have a publishing record. :)

I'm now trying to think of an author who got faster paced and more brief with time and it is not easy.

I can't think of one either off the top of my head, but in the opposing camp, let's talk about Neal Stephenson. :D My husband is currently reading his latest (Fall: or Dodge in Hell) and he's about halfway through (the thousand-page book) and has said multiple times, "This is fun to read, but gosh he's wordy, and also I'm not sure what's going on." No one without Stephenson's record of sales would get away with that! (There's an argument to be made that if not for Stephenson's reputation, my husband might not have persisted with the book, but Mr Dee is a bad example in this way because he will just slog through anything if he's decided to read it.)

Online Bender

Re: Last books in series (usually bigger than trilogies)
« Reply #5 on: November 07, 2019, 10:01:19 PM »
What’s the beef with Harry Potter? I thought all books were equally good. I liked them.
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Offline Peat

Re: Last books in series (usually bigger than trilogies)
« Reply #6 on: November 08, 2019, 01:32:22 AM »
For me, the middle of the Harry Potter series was the best part. The first two books were, either due to being pitched for young teens and/or Rowling still learning, a little simple. The last two books were struggling to fit everything in - and I think that the curse of an author trying to wrap up five books' worth of foreshadowing and narrative in two books is a big part of this, and even with good editing is still difficult - and didn't feel as compelling. There's also some long sequences where nothing much seems to be happening and because of the fast pace of the rest of the books, I'm a little bore. Middle three books just really good. Not big drop-offs in quality at either end for me, but noticeable.


I can't think of one either off the top of my head, but in the opposing camp, let's talk about Neal Stephenson. :D My husband is currently reading his latest (Fall: or Dodge in Hell) and he's about halfway through (the thousand-page book) and has said multiple times, "This is fun to read, but gosh he's wordy, and also I'm not sure what's going on." No one without Stephenson's record of sales would get away with that! (There's an argument to be made that if not for Stephenson's reputation, my husband might not have persisted with the book, but Mr Dee is a bad example in this way because he will just slog through anything if he's decided to read it.)

I don't think I've ever read a thousand-page book and I'm not sure I want to (although I always hear good things about Neal Stephenson).

I think that having thought about it, Raymond E. Feist is the only person who I can think of who's got shorter and more concise. He started with a 600+ page behemoth that's now sold as two books and spans a story told over a nine year period; he's never done anything like it since, more's the pity. And if we look at Bea's question and ask "How did a novice author get that much rope", the fact that his adoptive step-family were chuck-full of successful film writers and industry executives probably had something to do with it. Not that he didn't deserve it, Magician's success is proof of that, but he did probably get a hearing few other authors would have.
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Offline Elfy

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Re: Last books in series (usually bigger than trilogies)
« Reply #7 on: November 08, 2019, 06:40:34 AM »
What’s the beef with Harry Potter? I thought all books were equally good. I liked them.
I enjoyed them, too, but they could have benefited from some more ruthless editing. The endless camping trip in the final book springs immediately to mind.
Martin has admitted that he ignores editorial advice. Terry Goodkind did the same thing. One prominent blogger always claimed that Erikson’s Malazan tomes were only lightly edited. If a tighter edit had been applied to Connie Willis’ Blackout/All Clear then it may have come out as one book instead of two.
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Offline cupiscent

Re: Last books in series (usually bigger than trilogies)
« Reply #8 on: November 08, 2019, 07:10:07 AM »
What’s the beef with Harry Potter? I thought all books were equally good. I liked them.

I liked the whole series a lot! Half-Blood Prince is probably my favourite, though Prisoner of Azkaban really is a corker. But the later books were not as tightly plotted or efficiently written. That's all.

If a tighter edit had been applied to Connie Willis’ Blackout/All Clear then it may have come out as one book instead of two.

Hard disagree there. Or rather, I think you're absolutely right, they could have been edited down into one book. But I think that would also have removed some of the overall message, which used the "white noise" of the length and detail to hide the "message" of the significant events, putting the reader much more in the situation of the protagonists, who were also struggling with the signal-to-noise ratio of history. (A similar thing applies to Stephenson's Cryptonomicon, even more directly appropriate; I don't believe that defense works for any of his other novels.) Given the focus of Blackout/All Clear on the need to continue hoping and living as an act of defiance even without confirmation that you were achieving anything... I think slimming it down makes it slightly less effective.

Offline Elfy

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Re: Last books in series (usually bigger than trilogies)
« Reply #9 on: November 09, 2019, 01:09:52 AM »
What’s the beef with Harry Potter? I thought all books were equally good. I liked them.

I liked the whole series a lot! Half-Blood Prince is probably my favourite, though Prisoner of Azkaban really is a corker. But the later books were not as tightly plotted or efficiently written. That's all.

If a tighter edit had been applied to Connie Willis’ Blackout/All Clear then it may have come out as one book instead of two.

Hard disagree there. Or rather, I think you're absolutely right, they could have been edited down into one book. But I think that would also have removed some of the overall message, which used the "white noise" of the length and detail to hide the "message" of the significant events, putting the reader much more in the situation of the protagonists, who were also struggling with the signal-to-noise ratio of history. (A similar thing applies to Stephenson's Cryptonomicon, even more directly appropriate; I don't believe that defense works for any of his other novels.) Given the focus of Blackout/All Clear on the need to continue hoping and living as an act of defiance even without confirmation that you were achieving anything... I think slimming it down makes it slightly less effective.
I thoroughly enjoyed Willis book (I say book, because it was really one volume that for reasons of size had to be published as 2), but I did feel there was just too much of it. The only Stephenson I’ve read is Cryptonomicon and I didn’t like it. It was to me ver self indulgent, and those were the bits that could have been cut and probably made it a better book in the process.
I will expand your TBR pile.

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