Followers

Is Writing a Trilogy a Good Idea?

Fun Fact - When making a movie trilogy, they are often not well received.

Below is a measurement of how well received various movies were within their respective movie trilogies.


So clearly, when it comes to movies at least, not all movie trilogies are a big success.

While the first film was a great success, the 2nd and 3rd films of The Matrix, Jurassic Park, Jaws, Planet of the Apes, and Batman were notably sub-par (below 50% on the meter). That is 5 out of 21 film franchises which are considered to be quite famous.

Meanwhile sometimes film franchises can have good showings in parts 1 and 2, and then be really poor in part 3. Superman, X-Men, Spider-Man, Blade, Godfather, Terminator and Alien all suffered from this. 7 out of 21. 33.33%.

A few stats...

23.81% of popular trilogies have 2nd and 3rd films which did poorly.

33.33% of them have a 3rd film which did poorly.

There is a 48% chance the 1st part of the trilogy will be best part.

There is a 48% chance the 2nd part of the trilogy will be best part.

There is only a 4% chance the 3rd part will be the best or equally as good as the previous films.

There is a 67% chance the 3rd part will be the worst part of the franchise.

There is a 52% chance the 3rd part damages the reputation of the trilogy franchise, causing it to possibly end.

So...

Knowing all of this, why would screen writers and movie producers bother to make a 3rd film?

Perhaps trilogies are not such a great idea after all, because even when you do make a "profitable film trilogy", the 2nd and 3rd parts of the trilogy so often are horrible.

It is a bit of a gamble to make a film trilogy where all 3 parts are considered to be great (or at least above par).

  • Star Wars
  • Indiana Jones
  • Star Trek
  • Lord of the Rings
  • Mad Max
  • Back to the Future
  • Die Hard
  • Rocky
  • Rambo

9 out of 21. 42.85%. Back to the Future and Rambo barely fit in to this category of "successful winners".

So it makes me wonder. Perhaps the best way is to only write 2 films worth of material. A first part and a second part. A beginning and an end.

Imagine if Blade had only been a 2 film franchise. Ended on a high note. X-Men, The Godfather, Terminator, Alien and other movie franchises could have done this too. Just make the two films and stop there.

Unfortunately, this also comes back to money. Many of these film franchises, despite having a shoddy 3rd film, also made oodles of cash by having a 3rd film.

So it does make financial sense, usually, to make a 3rd film. Even if the film bombs critically they usually make a tonne of money in the box office.

The 3rd Godfather film is the biggest loser on the list.

It cost $54 million to make.
It made $$66.6 million at the box office - and more later in VHS, DVD and BluRay sales.

So despite being the worst film on the chart above, it still broke even financially and later earned more money in VHS, DVD and BluRay sales, plus any other royalties.

SO WHAT ABOUT BOOK AUTHORS

Writing a book trilogy is a different matter. It is a very different market. Writing only 2 books in a series is very rare. Trilogies are the most popular format when it comes to writing a series of books.

Thus trilogies make good sense financially for writers. You get the readers hooked on Book 1 and then sell them Books 2 and 3.

After they've become better as writers they could even try selling a whole series of 5, 7 or more books. Ideally live longer to finish the series, unlike some writers who died before they could finish it.

Where problems can arise is when movie producers step in and wand to turn a book trilogy into a movie trilogy. Mistakes are made and the films can often do poorly, damaging the writer's career.

A writer being offered a juicy movie contract should consider all their options and keep in mind the following issues:

#1. Even if the writer gets paid, the movie producers might just sit on the movie rights and never make the films.
#2. The writer definitely wants a contingency so that they get paid even if the film doesn't get made.
#3. Ideally they should have contingency for what happens if they do make the films. Does the writer get a share of any profits?
#4. Are they paying the writer a consulting fee to make sure the film is good and accurate?
#5. How much is that consulting fee? Salary? Hourly Rate?
#6. Do the film rights go back to the author after X number of years so they can sell the film rights to someone else?

Many writers would be happy just to be approached about selling their film rights, but they should always be wary and cautious. You wouldn't want to do what some authors did and sell them to a company who barely know how to make a film, let alone make a good film.

List of Fantasy Book Reviewers

Meaningless Existential Image
A friend sent me this list (see below) of people who do fantasy book reviews. I might use it in the future, but for now I thought I would share it as it does look like an useful list that other fantasy writers (and readers) might use.

I assume that some of these reviewers are free and that some charge a fee for their services. I have no idea which is which. You would need to contact them to find out.

The various reviewers have their different preferred methods of being contacted, and the list is organized by their preferred method: Email, Twitter, Site Form.

If you know of other fantasy book reviewers, please post them in the comments section.


Reviewer

Email

Maria Harrison Maria.Harrison.CPA@gmail.com
Stephanie Pomfrett stephanie.pomfrett@gmail.com
Julia itsowlsreads@gmail.com  
Chelle chellesbookrambling@gmail.com
Satthiya Kandi vithragurl@hotmail.com
Shannanigans shanannigans.readsandreels@gmail.com
James R. Schmidt mightythorjrs@gmail.com  
Kerry Parsons bellaboobos11@outlook.com  
Susan Keefe bookreviewersusankeefe@aol.com
Larissa bookbosomedblonde@hotmail.com  
Rose darkrose04@gmail.com
Fantasy Book Review submissions@fantasybookreview.co.uk
B.B. Morgan BBMorgan16@gmail.com
tcr.request@gmail.com

muse@fantasy-muse.com

hinesandbigham@gmail.com
Jason P Crawford jnewmanwriting@gmail.com 
Big Al BooksAndPals@yahoo.com
Courtney Dion solacecai@gmail.com
Andi and Melanie fangfreakintastic@gmail.com
David J Garrett david@davidjgarrett.com
Amanda-Elizabeth Abend thewandererlitjournal@gmail.com
Aly Alysiaur26@gmail.com
Elena Linville elorenalory@gmail.com

booksontheknob@gmail.com
Anela amidtheimaginary@gmail.com
Craig all.hail.king.sparrky@gmail.com
Jim McCoy thatjimboguy@gmail.com
British Fantasy Society bfsjournal@britishfantasysociety.org
SciFiChick angela@scifichick.com
Fantasy Book Cafe kristen@fantasybookcafe.com
The Bewitched Reader addictedbookslover@gmail.com
Queen of Books portia.bro@gmail.com
Way Too Fantasy theunicornblues@gmail.com
Nadaness in Motion nadanessinmotion@gmail.com
Jeyran Main jeyranmain@gmail.com
Bookshine and Readbows bookshineandreadbows@outlook.com
Rather Too Fond of Books rathertoofondofbooks@gmail.com
Functionally Fictional functionallyfictional@gmail.com
Jessica Belmont authorjessicabelmont@gmail.com
Lauren Reading Writing and Me eadingwritingandme@gmail.com
Luna’s Little Library lunaslittlelibrary@gmail.com
Claire Knight aknightsreads@gmail.com
Lorna ljwrites85@gmail.com
Lizzie Manning LizzieBeth1095@sbcglobal.net
Sam Sattler samhouston23@gmail.com
Toni darkreads.blog@gmail.com


LIST OF REVIEWERS WHO PREFER TO BE CONTACTED VIA TWITTER

  1. Lys
  2. Rae

LIST OF REVIEWERS WHO PREFER TO BE CONTACTED VIA A FORM ON THEIR SITE

  1. Alysa
  2. Kayleigh
  3. TheGirlOnTheGo
  4. Colleen Chesebro
  5. John Mendez
  6. Alice
  7. Jessica
  8. Russell J Fellows
  9. Nell and Ivana
  10. Barbara
  11. A. Aaron
  12. Charlotte Maidment
  13. Evelyn Rainey
  14. JC Steel
  15. Allie Summer
  16. Various
  17. Brogan
  18. Derek Edgington
  19. Charlotte Maidment
  20. Barb Taub
  21. Bob Milne
  22. Dawn West
  23. CE Clayton
  24. Jacob Rundle
  25. The Fantasy Hive
  26. Fantasy Faction
  27. Readers Favorite
  28. SFF World
  29. Best Fantasy Book Series
  30. The Genre Minx
  31. Chris Pridmore
  32. The Strawberry Post
  33. The Most Sublime
  34. GripLitGirl
  35. Unseen Library
  36. Scary Mary
  37. Rose Point
  38. Book Fetish Site
  39. Allisa White
  40. Laura Buckley
  41. The Caffeinated Reader
  42. GirlMeetsBooks
  43. Sarah Lillian
  44. Bookish Whispers (Kayla)
  45. Amanda Christina
  46. On My Bookshelf
  47. Bibi
  48. Abigail
  49. Herminia
  50. Emma SCR
  51. Tasha and Megan
  52. Darlene
  53. Umut
  54. Hold Up In A Book
  55. Elizabeth – Booktube
  56. April Grace – Booktube
  57. Cal Turner
  58. Clair
  59. Anniek
  60. Celthric
  61. Wendy
  62. Christi
  63. Mehsi
  64. Whiskey Witt
  65. Verushka
  66. Ashley Bookish Realm

Jean Grey is a Horrible Character and Hollywood is Clueless

After the failure of X3 I would have thought scriptwriters in Hollywood would have learned their lesson: Jean Grey is kind of a boring character because her personality is so flat.

But no, they decided to try again for another film, following the same idiotic formula wherein she remains a flat 2-dimensional character.

So much emphasis is placed on her powers and her love interest(s), they always forget to develop her personality.

Oh and the producers... they conveniently forget about other female characters like Rogue who were historically more popular. Rogue was the focus of the very first X-Men film, but since then has been cut out despite being a fan favourite amongst comic book fans. Jean as a character was never particularly popular. The phoenix force was basically a crutch to make her character more interesting. You see this regularly with YA fiction... whenever a character is too boring writers just give the character a special ability to make them more interesting.
 
 
 
 
It is the reason why you see OP (over-powered) characters so much in the genre. The character is boring so the solution is to make them OP.

Oh and to give them a love triangle. Back in X3 it was the Jean-Scott-Wolverine love triangle that they tried to use, but they did a disappearing act on Scott early in the film so the love triangle bit became more one sided and fell flat.

So without the love triangle crutch and the dark phoenix crutch, what does Jean Grey have going for her? What is her personality? How does she grow as a character? Sadly her character is flat and there isn't much character growth, so is there any surprise the new Dark Phoenix film falls flat in the box office?
 
Dark Phoenix's Domestic Total as of Jun. 11, 2019: $39,190,534. Foreign: $103,743,621.

So $142,934,155... On a film that cost over $200 million to make. They are going to be lucky if they break even.

I am not surprised. It is the same shoddy writing they keep making to suck in teenagers, not realizing that the fans of the X-Men are mostly people in their 30s-40s-50s who grew up with the comic books.

So the producers have made a second error. They have forgotten who their real audience is. They should not be targeting teenagers. They should be targeting people in their 30s to 50s. This effects both how to write the story as a more mature story, but also how to market it to a specific audience.

Yes, X-Men is primarily about teenagers... but the fans of the X-Men are older. Younger audiences (teens and young adults) don't care about X-Men as much. The younger audience has already moved on to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and when competing against the MCU Avengers it is pretty obvious who is going to win.

Solution? This film might be the final nail in the coffin for the Fox owned X-Men Franchise... but there is good news. Disney bought them out. The whole franchise can be rebooted within the MCU five years from now. (We might finally get to see Wolverine and the Hulk working as a team.)
 
 
Hot Tip for any future actresses being asked to portray Jean Grey. Your contract should specifically state that there is no way in hell you will appear in any film portraying a 3rd version of Dark Phoenix. Hollywood should just give it a rest. The character is a flop regardless of whether you put a former Bond Girl in the role or whether you hire a former Game of Thrones star.

Fantasy Maps Vs Characters

I recently read the following post arguing about why characters in a fantasy book should rarely ever have a map of the region they are in, during which they make some valid points.

https://www.tor.com/2019/05/28/fantasy-maps-dont-belong-in-the-hands-of-fantasy-characters/


However there are exceptions.

#1. What if the character is a cartographer or navigator aboard a ship?
#2. What if the character is an explorer?
#3. What if the characters are discussing war preparations and need a map so they know how far away things are relative to each other?

And there are certainly more exceptions. A merchant for example might need a map to prevent getting lost when traveling through lands they are unfamiliar with.

Indeed the map could even play a central role in the plot, like in the case of a map to buried treasure.

The map could even be a magical artifact that allows people to teleport to a location of their choosing.

Or it could be a non-magical map which shows the locations of portals, artifacts or other items.

My point is that there are plenty of exceptions to why characters might need or desire a map of the region.

Now in fantasy video games it is a totally different matter... The map serves to help guide the player through the game to specific cities and regions for the player to explore.

And such a map might play an important role in the upcoming Witcher show on Netflix.

Below: Witcher 3 Wild Hunt World Map


One of my favourite maps from video games is the map from Kingdom Come Deliverance, which shows the relatively small region of Bohemia from the video game, but shows it in great detail. Plus the game itself is highly detailed and realistic, with some of the best graphics I have ever seen in any game, plus realistic swordplay and archery. I am definitely a fan.


The Silly Tropes of Bad Fantasy Writing


The Too Convenient Special Ability Trope

I blame the writers who write this nonsense. How can they sleep at night repeating the same tired tropes?

Giving a character special abilities right at the beginning, without having earned them, is far too convenient.

To me a hero's journey should be hard. It should be filled with challenges, some of which they fail at. If they are getting better at something it is because of months or years of practice/failure, and they should never be the equal or greater to any powerful villain(s) who has spent years or decades honing their skills.

It should never be the hero wakes up one day, discovers they have magical powers s/he never knew they had, and then masters their abilities in a few days/weeks/months. I have seen this trope in so many books, usually books aimed at young women, and it is utterly too convenient.

That doesn't mean it is just female lead characters either. Harry Potter also goes through this trope. He suddenly discovers he is a wizard, enters a secret alleyway, a secret train station, and goes to a secret school for wizards. Convenient? I haven't got to the part where he gains an extra powerful wand, is gifted an invisibility cloak, and is just conveniently really good on a broom. See? All too convenient. He even defeats the baddie at the end of Book 1 by simply touching him. Didn't even know he had that power. He just touches the baddie and the baddie ends up doing his impression of the Wicked Witch of the West melting.

Often the convenient hero also operates on a fate based plot... boring. So boring. Again, Harry Potter is guilty of this too, because of the whole prophecy thing. So basically he is fated to defeat Voldemort.
 
So why is this trope boring? Because you already know the ending. Once you learn that the hero is fated / prophesized to beat the villain, then it is now a foregone conclusion. You already know the ending. There wasn't really any surprise when Harry Potter finally defeats Voldemort in Book 7. That was the only possible ending.
 
At least Harry Potter had to go through 6 years of school before he was ready to face Voldemort, so at least his hero's journey was measured in years.

Instead in this trope what you often see is the following:
 
  1. Hero discovers they are special.
  2. Hero meets villain, magically survives the encounter.
  3. Hero masters their special ability in a very short period of time.
  4. Hero defeats villain in the 3rd act.
  5. The end.

So the hero somehow masters their special abilities in a short period of time and then defeats the main villain in Act 3, a person who has spent years or decades mastering their own abilities. Boring and unrealistic.

So how do you change this?

For starters, stop giving the hero special abilities.

Also don't give them a magical sword/etc when they first start out. (See the next trope further below.)

Example...

Years ago I wrote a book wherein the lead character is a half-demon. Guess what powers she got? None. She had absolutely no magical powers. She didn't even know she had half-demon blood. Her blood plays a role in the plot, but it has zero effect on her abilities. She is otherwise a normal human.

Now she does start with a sword that is reasonably well made, but it isn't magical. It is just a sword.

A plain hero with a plain sword. No powers. No magic.

That means she has to survive based on her skills and wits. Problem solving her way through dangers and challenges, not just blasting her way through problems with newfound magical abilities.
 
She also befriends some allies along the way, which also helps.

That makes a much more interesting story, in my opinion.
 
And because I follow the "Die Hard" approach to heroism, I believe my heroes should bleed. A lot. They should get injured and bleed. All sorts of things happen to them. I don't have them crawling through broken glass or air ducts, but the principle is there. If they are going to survive then they need to earn it.
 
And that to me is heroic. The hero who has no special abilities but is determined to survive and save the day. That is why John McClane is such a classic hero, precisely because he is an average joe type character who refuses to give up. (Now you might think, wait, if he is a classic, doesn't that make him a trope? No. A trope is overused and unremarkable because it has been done before, often poorly. A classic is memorable because it is done well and the storyteller knew what they were doing.)


 
The Too Convenient Magical Item Trope
 
Ever read a book where the hero finds a super powerful magical weapon in the first three chapters? Like Arthur pulling the sword out of the stone? Or Harry Potter gaining his extra powerful wand and later his invisibility cloak? Or Bilbo Baggins (or Frodo Baggins) gaining a magical sword and an invisibility ring?

This is another trope that bothers me.

Bilbo at least had to wait longer before he gained a magical sword and ring, Frodo didn't have to wait at all. He inherited both of them from Bilbo close to the beginning of LOTR.

I don't have a problem with characters gaining magical items later in the story, like halfway through the book or near the end, but right at the beginning is awfully convenient.
 
To me the trope of gaining a magical item at the beginning of the book is almost as bad as the hero discovering they have a special ability. Both are far too convenient.

If a hero gains objects or items along the way, they should be more mundane until at least halfway through the book.
 
Sometimes the item might not even usable by the hero, but perhaps goes to a lesser character, or worse, a villain gains possession of the item.
 
I did this several months ago when I was re-writing an upcoming novel. One of the lesser characters gained a magical item close to the halfway point in the book. It was a weapon the main character wasn't particularly skilled with, so it made sense the person who knew how to use it properly should get it.
 
And see? Isn't that more realistic?
 
The characters have skills, and often also lack certain skills. My main character didn't know how to use the weapon in question, but one of his companions not only knew how to use it, but was able to use it well.
 
That makes good logical sense after all. Not every magical item our hero finds he should automatically be able to use properly. Indeed, most weapons he finds should be alien to him. Does he know how to use a horseman's flail? Nope. Not a clue. A glaive? Nope, never even seen one.
 
It is one thing for a hero to pick up a sword and use it, a sword is still a sword after all. But that doesn't mean he is skilled with it. A fencer trained with epees should not be able to use a katana with the same measure of skill. They are two very different swords.

If the hero was skilled in a specific weapon, like harpoons, wouldn't it be awfully convenient if they just found a magical harpoon when they were not expecting to? It makes no sense.

And if you're like "But he was destined to find it!" then you are missing the whole point. Destiny and fate are also too convenient.


Conclusions and Exceptions

Fables and fairy tales. That is where these tropes belong.

If a writer wants to write using these tropes, they can still do so, but they should focus more specifically on writing fables, fairy tales and similar storytelling methods. Something similar to the Princess Bride would be okay too, as that is a swashbuckling fantasy/romance/comedy and comedies can certainly take advantage of silly tropes.

Because that is what they are. Silly.

So lets amend that list: Fables, fairy tales and comedies. That is where silly tropes belong.

And any writer who is writing a "fantasy romance" using the above tropes should be reminded that their book is a dime a dozen on Amazon, which has been flooded with fantasy romances so that their book does not stand out in the thousands of books with the same basic plot I mentioned further above with the following changes.

  1. Heroine discovers they are special.
  2. Heroine meets Boy #1.
  3. Heroine meets villain, magically survives the encounter.
  4. Heroine meets Boy #2. Love triangle ensues.
  5. Heroine masters their special ability in a very short period of time.
  6. Heroine defeats villain in the 3rd act.
  7. Love triangle ends somehow. One of the boys becomes a villain or dies. The other one later marries the heroine.
  8. The end.

There are literally thousands or tens of thousands of self-published books on Amazon with that same basic plot, all aimed at young women. (And you can often buy them for free due to promo deals. I know, I have gained quite a few for free and then discovered it was another poorly written love triangle disguised as a fantasy.)

Seriously, someone could use this plot, but make it a comedy and it would be so much better.

They could call it "Revenge of the Glitter Vampires" or something similar. Make it clear from the very beginning that it is a comedy. They could give ALL the vampires their own magical swords, so that they are all special in their own special way.

You know how in school these days kids are told that they are all special? All of them are special. Every one. I wonder if that social conditioning played a role in the desire for these young writers to want their main character to be "special" too? So is it millennials and centennials who are to blame for this trope? Quite possibly.

In contrast I was born in the 70s and went through the 80s and 90s. We learned the hard way that if you wanted to be special, you had to earn it. You have to strive for it. Nobody is going to hand you special abilities on a golden platter. You need to have a work ethic and a willingness to hone your craft.

Good night!

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