Gaps Between Books In Epic Fantasy Series

Toby Frost

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 22, 2008
Messages
6,070
Obviously A Song of Ice and Fire gets mentioned a lot, but I wondered whether the time taken to write and publish the volumes of epic fantasy series was generally seen as a problem by readers. A book of 400+ pages must take at least a year to write and edit, and so I wondered if this was considered a bad thing.
 

CupofJoe

Some medals you wear on your heart not your sleeve
Joined
Mar 29, 2019
Messages
852
Not for me. The book has to be ready to be published and not published to an external deadline. I think Terry Pratchett rushed out his last few books because he knew he had a limited time left to write and there was nothing he could do about it. He was desperate to give people as many tales as he could. I love them still but for me they suffer from him not being able to polish them as he had before. Oddly I like his last book The Shepherd's Crown a lot more because he didn't finish writing it. It was incomplete rather than complete but under polished.
 

tinkerdan

∞<Q-Satis
Joined
Dec 10, 2012
Messages
5,166
Location
x² + y² = r²:when x~∞
That might hold true for someone like myself--new to writing--trying to get their own pace.
A book of 400+ pages must take at least a year to write and edit, and so I wondered if this was considered a bad thing.
However, GRRM had quite a bit under his belt and I think the first three novels occurred during a time he was busy with many other pressing writing engagements.

Based on popularity--I'm guessing it hasn't hurt him and enough readers are willing to wait.

Probably much the same for notable authors.
 

Overread

Searching for a flower
Joined
Aug 22, 2007
Messages
4,271
Location
Hunting in the woods
The answer is "it varies" really.

I think most readers want to read a well written and edited book and thus are willing to wait for considerable lengths of time for sequels to be properly written and published. I'd also say that many come to respect that writing epic stories and publishing as you go can leave authors with trickier issues the further into the story they can go. Small events that might be almost just background noise in early books can suddenly rear their heads as huge plot holes or gaps or barriers in latter books. The author can't just reach in and tweak a few small bits at the earlier stage; or move a character to a different region etc... They can't add in new ideas that they need for the latter part but want to present earlier so that they don't feel like they are grasping at straws to make the story work etc...

There is no magic time-scale. Some authors are simply faster than others at writing. Some produce very quick - Robin Hobb and Steven Erikson come to mind in that regard; whilst GRRM is a very good example of a slower author. Neither is the correct approach; however one can easily argue that the less time lag between the books the better in general.
 

tinkerdan

∞<Q-Satis
Joined
Dec 10, 2012
Messages
5,166
Location
x² + y² = r²:when x~∞
There is always backstory...

I think most readers want to read a well written and edited book and thus are willing to wait for considerable lengths of time for sequels to be properly written and published. I'd also say that many come to respect that writing epic stories and publishing as you go can leave authors with trickier issues the further into the story they can go. Small events that might be almost just background noise in early books can suddenly rear their heads as huge plot holes or gaps or barriers in latter books. The author can't just reach in and tweak a few small bits at the earlier stage; or move a character to a different region etc... They can't add in new ideas that they need for the latter part but want to present earlier so that they don't feel like they are grasping at straws to make the story work etc...

...even in a single story you might have backstory. Something that happened that the MC wasn't aware of happening at the time it happened--yet it becomes important to the story. Backstory is probably much more acceptable than a scattered lot of unresolved threads that threaten mostly to be forgotten in future volumes; becoming something that might have best been removed from the story. Also the reader will forget what loose threads there were and you'll be including backstory as a reminder, so you don't force the reader to scratch his head--or god forbid--make him read the last five books to figure out where that came from.

It can be done as long as you know each and every dangling thread.

However you can leave anything out as long as the MC wasn't there while that thread was growing.

The best thing is resolve most threads in the same story they are introduced.

You might not be able to avoid some loose threads if you have to have the MC there when that thread begins.
 

Boneman

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 4, 2008
Messages
5,540
Location
Working with the Bare Bones of talent
Stephen King left us aboard a crazed train (Blaine) for years.... 7, I think... I had to re-read the previous books when he finally pulled into the station, to recall what had happened. 8 years since Wise Man's Fears.... and counting. I just find it tedious, now. But I have lost some epic fantasy tales, because I lost interest. Tend to wait until a trilogy/quadrilogy/pentology is finished before I begin them...
 

Juliana

Juliana Spink Mills. "No capes!"
Supporter
Joined
Jun 28, 2012
Messages
4,954
Location
Connecticut, USA
As a reader I love the way that Brandon Sanderson keeps us updated on his work (even down to progress bars on his website), letting us know what's going on and where he is in the process. With bigger books like his Stormlight Archive, that really can't be rushed into a 1-a-year schedule, it's reassuring to know things are moving.

Of course, from a writer's perspective, that level of accountability sounds like utter hell! :LOL:
 

Phyrebrat

www.beanwriting.com
Supporter
Joined
Feb 13, 2011
Messages
5,115
Location
In your bedroom wardrobe...
Stephen King left us aboard a crazed train (Blaine) for years.... 7, I think...

Blaine is a pain...

I thank my lucky stars I didn't read the Dark Tower cycle until he'd finished it. I'd never realised he took so long to do so as 1) I had no intention of reading it when I heard it was fantasy and 2) he's so prolific, I'd've expected him to manage the commitment easily enough.

pH
 

sknox

Member and remember
Joined
Mar 25, 2013
Messages
1,580
Location
Idaho
I've seen people complain about various authors. I've seen others rise to the authors' defense.

I'm curious about the question? Suppose the answer were unequivocal (on either side): then what?
 

Dragonlady

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 4, 2007
Messages
353
tbh if an author produces more than a book a year I will struggle to keep up for financial reasons
 

mistri

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 5, 2006
Messages
105
I suppose it's hard for an author to know how long it will take to write something. A WIP I've got on submission has arguably taken me ten years to write. However I wrote 3/4 of it over two Nanowrimos and the rest was procrastination and writer's block. So if I was able to write fulltime, I should be able to write another in a year. But who knows until it happens!
 

Elckerlyc

"Philosophy will clip an angel's wings."
Supporter
Joined
Aug 27, 2019
Messages
1,134
Location
The Netherlands
As I have not much else to do tonight, I might as well ponder these questions.
...but I wondered whether the time taken to write and publish the volumes of epic fantasy series was generally seen as a problem by readers. A book of 400+ pages must take at least a year to write and edit, and so I wondered if this was considered a bad thing.
I don't quite follow the question. If it takes a year, it takes a year. Period. You could tell yourself to wait 2 more years and read the whole trilogy in one go (as several chrons mentioned doing), but that means a. you have to wait 2-3 years in stead of 1 and b. if no one buys Volume One the publishers will eventually quit publishing trilogies. Right now they love trilogies, because it means more sells. And it is up to the publishers to decide when they will publish Volume Next, preferably (for the publisher) next year.
Anyway, I can wait a year - though admittedly, I had to learn to be patient - if it's worth waiting for and if there is a certain guarantee you won't wait in vain.

Writing is for the most part hard labor (who am I telling this?) but remains above all an artistic process. You can't control or command your Muse, you hit on unforeseen inconsistencies in your plot or backstory. Or RL kicks in (I heard that Scott Lynch suffered depression after his divorce) which disrupts the writing. Some novelist die before finishing their work.It happens, it is life.
It is not a question whether having to wait is a bad thing, it is simply Life. Whether you like it or not.
 

Overread

Searching for a flower
Joined
Aug 22, 2007
Messages
4,271
Location
Hunting in the woods
It's also important to realise that many novelists don't write professionally as their main source of income. A portion manage to, however the majority have it as a side job to something else. Some might be lucky and have a significant other or other source of income which lets them devote more time to writing, but many have to hold down a regular job alongside writing in order to pay the bills, feed themselves etc.... Plus it can be very short term - many big names in writing 10 or 20 years ago are now almost unheard of and new names have rushed to fill the gap. So even if you do well for a time it might not last.


So this real life aspect can really hammer a writers ability to produce work at a high volume. This is before we even consider turmoil in their lives causing ups and downs in their capacity to write.
 

Top