Sunday, 15 July 2012

How to become a millionaire novelist, Part 5: The Trilogy

I am sure you have noticed that many bestsellers come as trilogies. Why? you ask. Well, the whole point is 3 books is 3 times the money of 1 book, besides making your reader wait for the next book creates suspense creating even more sales. Readers love to wait for something, as Potter fans will testify. This is not a new phenomenon. The Victorians had the 3-volume novel, we have the 3-book trilogy. The Victorian publishers reasoned that the 1st volume would pay for the cost of printing the 2nd, so it was more astute business sense than anything else. Since books were expensive then, each volume would be cheaper, but multiply that by three and you get even more money.  Assuming we had the 3-volume novel and kept the trilogy format that makes 9 times the money.

We are talking of the present, however. The key is to squeeze as little plot into as many pages as possible, preferably in between extensive kissing scenes. Stephanie Meyer did this even more successfully, the original 3 books became 4, sacrificing a great number of trees every year. Fifty Shades however has crowned over SMeyer, because there is even less plot in her books, and each is 500 pages. This is easily achieved by large  fonts, smallish pages and excessive description. 

I suggest if you wish to write this sort of trilogy you must divide the plot fairly evenly, so fans won't complain the second is worse than the first.

Book 1: The hero and heroine meet for the first time. The hero has a dark deep secret, the heroine is insecure and longs to have him all for herself. In between kissing scenes, we see the menus of all the exclusive restaurants they dine at.  In the end, he reveals his dirty secret (let's say, plushophilia) and confides to her his ambitions. They are possibly thwarted by his or her parents. They become a couple. you should emphasise the naïveté of the heroine so people feel the thrill as the relationship progresses, from uncertainty to bliss. 

Book 2: The heroine meets the hero's parents who love her. They think she will reform him and make him a happy man. The hero's ambitions grow, he becomes human and proposes to the heroine. The heroine also possibly has a career or some goals to perform. They get to know each other's background better. The heroine's parents meet the hero and are unsure at first, but at last want her to be happy. There may be many misunderstandings involving stuffed animals. Tension between hero and heroine, as heroine thinks he prefers stuffed animals to her (and not in an innocent way). He also wants her to dress kinkily, in black leather boots, black leather corset, red fishnet stockings etc. which she is not comfortable with. This is resolved.  They marry. 

Book 3: The hero and heroine have started classes at the Sadomasochism Academy to spice up their marriage. Remember Jane Austen fans love steamy sequels, if they're not purists. Extensive descriptions of the Wet Celery and the Flying Helmet (check Allo Allo to see what I mean), and the Egg Whisk. Gruesome details of people hammering nails into other people and orgies involving a giant bowl of hot minestrone soup, while the participants strangle each other with unusually long strands of spaghetti. (Yes, I do have a vivid imagination, though detractors say I'm prudish and old-fashioned). A dominatrix called Madame Flagella trains these wannabe sadomasochists.

The hero and heroine in my example are called Christopher Blue and Aphrodisia Steele, to get the sort of idea I mean. 

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