Stories on the edge of familiarity

Why Make a Book Series Like a TV Show?

Due to an unfortunate spasm of boredom that severely sprained the dignity of several cortices of my brain yesterday, I won’t be continuing the series about Adam and Eve. To be entirely honest, I’m not sure why I started it. Ah well. My apologies.

Different Dialects

When a director makes a movie based off of a book, there are always changes made to the story. This is because of one or more of several reasons:

1) Movies and books are fundamentally different formats, and so have to be done in different ways.
2) Two hours isn’t enough time to do everything in the book.
3) Whoever was in charge of the movie clearly only read a description of the book and then used the other reasons as excuses for their shoddy work (I’m looking at YOU, makers of Ella Enchanted. *glares*).

Similarly, when a book is made from a movie, we get a slightly different story. It almost seems like stories on the screen and stories written down are different dialects of the same language that don’t translate to the other very well, no matter how much we try.

Some people think that they are so different that they may as well be different languages entirely.

(Which makes me think of a linguistics joke: The difference between a dialect and a language is that a language has an army. Get it? Get it? Ok, maybe it’s just me.)

 

Ignorance: Not Exactly Bliss

So, when I got the idea for Peculiar Certainties and I realized that I had, for the very first time, an idea for a real, honest-to-goodness book series, and after the haze of excitement had cleared, I realized that I had a problem:

I haven’t the slightest idea how book series work.

Beyond the idea of “a story over multiple books” or “multiple stories with the same characters” (or both), I really had no clue how to structure this series without going through a huge learning curve that I didn’t want to slog through for that particular series.

And then it hit me: I do know how TV series work.

You have a pilot episode that introduces the major characters, the setting, the premise, and if there’s an overarching plotline, hints to what’s going to happen later in the series. And a whole host of other things, like making a mostly self-contained story that gives an idea of what the rest of the series will be like, even if the tone of the series changes over time.

Then you have the different seasons, which each have their own plot arc (which may or may not be self-contained from the rest of the series), and which often end on a cliffhanger.

If you’re really lucky, you even get a movie after the TV show is done that wraps everything up and is just generally awesome.

Along with that is the idea of a miniseries, which is is also shown in parts but is between the length of a season of a TV show and the length of a movie. They also have this nifty feature of being planned out and written and shot ahead of time, like a movie, and unlike a TV show, which the writers tend to make up as they go.

 

To Curve or Not to Curve (Learning Curve, That Is)

The only problem is that a TV show and a book series are two different formats. Two dialects, languages, whatever. Was mixing them a taboo? Should book series keep purely to how they’ve been doing things and leave the TV shows to their strange syntax?

Did I really want to spend [insert a ridiculous amount of time] learning how book series worked when I had a structure I already knew and could use?

Heck, no.

Perhaps for a later series, I might go for a more traditional format, but not this time. This time, I was going to be a rebel.

I was going to make my book series like a TV show.

But I’m also making it like a miniseries, in that I know exactly how long it’s going to be, I’m planning all the everything as far in advance as I possibly can (including the end), I’ve already picked theme songs for the books and the four major characters, and I’m having a whole ton of fun doing it.

 

Making Art

Oh, and music’s another thing. With a book series that follows book series rules, anything outside of the books is a curiosity, nothing more than a pretty distraction. While I agree that the books themselves should be enough in themselves, I’ve also always wanted to add in things like music, art and comics that aren’t necessary to understand the story, but they do enrich it.

(Yes, you heard me. Comics. *smiles mysteriously*)

There’s this choice that we all have when we want to do something we’ve never done before it. Do we:

A) Settle in, learn our niche, and do what everyone else has done?

OR

B) Combine the things we know with it and make something no-one’s ever seen before?

Really, the only requirement for a book series is that you can write good stories. And that you involve multiple books in the process.

As Neil Gaiman said:

Husband runs off with a politician? Make good art. Leg crushed and then eaten by mutated boa constrictor? Make good art. IRS on your trail? Make good art. Cat exploded? Make good art. Someone on the Internet thinks what you’re doing is stupid or evil or it’s all been done before? Make good art. (emphasis mine)

Good art. Not the right art. Not the wrong art. Not easy art. Not hard art. Not messy art. Not clean art. Good art.

Art that is good.

That’s the only kind of art I want to make.

 

My Book/TV Series

Now you’re curious how I’m laying this all out, aren’t you? I was going to give you the whole thing, but then I thought “Nah, that’d take all the fun out of it”.

Instead, I will tell you this: the plan is for ten books, broken up into three “seasons” and possibly a “movie”.

They’re not going to be written like scripts or any nonsense like that. They’re still novels. Just, you know, organized like a TV show.

Also, because I can, each season will end in a cliffhanger. This is knowledge you may hate me for later. *grins*

 

What You Can Look Forward to

Aside from the books themselves, here are a couple other things that will be coming between now and the release of the first book (which is currently under the Knife of Editing):
  1. Adren (the main character, for those who don’t know yet) is getting Twitter, and will remain on Twitter through the whole series. Which will be interesting.
  2. Nadin (another major character) might also get Twitter. He’ll probably be much less regular than Adren and much more verbose, but I’m considering it. Although I’m thinking that he won’t get it until after book 2. *is not yet sure, which is why this is mentioned now*
  3. Me spazzing out on Twitter whenever I’m having issues, like I was with the theme songs for half a month, or when kept messing up and prematurely revealing Nadin’s thoughts, or today, when I figured out the series title and lost all the titles for the individual books as a result.
Seriously, just follow me on Twitter. Life will be better that way. :P

What You Can Already Do to Help

  1. Help support my writing by buying my anthology, Dreaming of Her and Other Stories.
  2. Join my email list to get extra-special behind the scenes content, Advanced Reader’s Copies, and more (You can do that here)
  3. Read the excerpts from the first book (they’re in reverse chronological order)
  4. Listen to the playlists of the theme songs.
Oh, and, yes. Thanks to the excellent help of Emily Rose, my fantasy series finally has a name. Peculiar Certainties isn’t half-bad, now, is it?

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