To Trilogise or Not To Trilogise?

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One of the blogs I follow is by Suffolk, England, writer Dylan Hearn, who recently wrote about Ten Things I Wish I’d Known Before Writing a Trilogy.

The trilogy Mr. Hearn is referring to, The Transcendence Trilogy, has just been published, for which I send Mr. Hearn congratulations. Here’s a link: https://authordylanhearn.wordpress.com/

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The blog by Mr. Hearn, who lives in the lovely county of Suffolk, England, just up the road from where I grew up, set me thinking (as good blogs do), which in turn led to my wondering why writers write trilogies, and not stories that span two, rather than three, books.

The facile answer that pops into my mind is that they simply don’t know what to call such a work.

A duology?

But a duology sounds so, well, unfinished, as if the writer had insufficient ideas to make it a trilogy. A duology sounds like a failed trilogy, a series the writer gave up on, shamefully, like giving up on learning the piano, just another failure in your life, another indicator of your general inadequacy and fecklessness.

A trilogy, on the other hand, sounds confident and accomplished.

Which brings me to my ongoing story, Colorland (Speaking Volumes Press), which I conceived as a trilogy, but now, with volume two, Leaving Colorland, limping along no further than a first, very rough draft, and volume three only the faintest brush of a few ideas, unfocussed and undeveloped, I’m beginning to lose my nerve, those tendrils of doubt fostered partly by Mr. Hearn’s thoughts on writing a trilogy.

And I’m wondering – should Colorland be a trilogy, or should I be satisfied with it as a duology?

The questions that arise are already noted or alluded to in Mr. Hearn’s blog:

Do Colorland’s three principal characters, Ridge, Isolde, and Wenden, have the legs for three stories? Do they have enough depth to continue to explore and reveal, and to enable them to learn and grow and change through three volumes?

Do I have the legs to write three stories about them?

Do I want to devote another year or more to Ridge, Isolde and Wenden, much as I’ve grown to like them and their company? Am I satisfied with having to leave aside the exploration and development of other, perhaps more worthy, story ideas, perhaps with more potential?

Does anyone care if I write a third ‘Colorland’? Is it worth it?

(Of course I ask those questions – Does anyone care about this? Is this worth pursuing? – with every book I start, and have to push them aside before they cripple me.)

So, for setting these thoughts in motion, thank you, Mr. Hearn.

I think.

 

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