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  1. #1
    Brandon H.
    Guest

    The Concept of Splitting a Novel in Two...

    Hi there...currently I am exploring the possibility of splitting my novel (coming in at 197,478 words, in the Fantasy genre) into two books.
    So I have found the area within that I would make the cut if choose to...doing so would scale it down into two separate books of reasonable length. So far, the first book would have 21 chapters and the second 20 chapters. Don't have new word counts yet, but that's not the subject here.
    What I am thinking about is the end of the first book...essentially I have always thought that the end of one part of something typically has to have some confrontation or deepening mystery in order to lead into the next part (or book). So the place where the cut would be made has the smackings of both...pretty much ending with deepening mysteries.
    So I'm wondering to myself if the first book would swing as such, putting forth more questions than any answers at its end. And as well having these two books not as two independent novels (in other words, neither could be stand alones) but two parts of the same story...the second continuing where the first left off.
    So summing up, I do believe where the first book would end would work (since it does have a conflict and resolution, just not the major one of the story), but it will be quite obvious that it is to be continued by the next book (and of course in a query for the first book, it would have to be mentioned it is the first part of a two-part story).
    Any thoughts are welcome. Thank you. And sorry if any of this seemed too wordy, the process of understanding something can sometimes get like that, I suppose.



  2. #2
    Pamela
    Guest

    Re: The Concept of Splitting a Novel in Two...

    Hi Brandon,

    I know different books have handled this issue differently. LOTR just sort of ends at the end of each book, if I remember correctly. And CJ Cherry's Defender ends with one or two minor threads resolved, with the clear implication that another book was forthcoming. (Of course, it was book five in a six book (or more) series, not the first in the series, which also makes a difference.)

    However, as a reader, I have to say I find those kinds of endings really unsatisfactory. I don't know if there is any way for you to make a resolution to the major plot thread, but to still have an opening for the next book. Certainly a lot of fantasy books do that -- the characters have won one battle in the war, but we all know the war goes on. (Too many books like this to begin naming them!) It might take some serious rewriting of that segment, but I think it is important, for the reader's sake.

    And, probably, for the publisher's sake too. I can imagine a publisher would be reluctant to take on a two-book project from a new writer, unless this is truly spectacular stuff. To much of a danger that reviewers/readers will balk at the hanging cliff ending, lowering sales.

    If you really like the format as is, why not write another, shorter book (or two or three) first to establish yourself as a writer, and then bring this one up. Once people know you a little, they will be more tolerant of this sort of ending or of a longer book. There are some massive books being put out these days in fantasy.

    Pamela
    PS this is just my own thoughts, not professional advice mostly, it's mostly derived from common wisdom you see around boards like this

  3. #3
    Jackie Kessler
    Guest

    Re: The Concept of Splitting a Novel in Two...

    The big thing to ask here is whether you're an established author. If this is your first MS, you may have a hard time convincing an agent or editor that the cliffhanger ending to Book One would work on an unknown.

    Have you tried editing your MS to reduce the word count?

  4. #4
    Brandon H.
    Guest

    Re: The Concept of Splitting a Novel in Two...

    Thank you for the responses.

    Indeed, it had crossed my mind that having the first book pretty much end on a "cliffhanger" sort of ending might not work too well, either from a reader's point of view because of unsatisfactory feelings, or a publisher's view since yes, it would be my first published book.

    It is in its final, edited, trimmed form and what I could cut out of it right now (which would be still stretching things in this final form, if that can be believed, so it's one of those if I don't have to do it, I'd rather not sort of things), it would not take much off of the word count...maybe 10,000 words.

    So it pretty much comes down to either pitching a the full version or the split version. Both would be gambles I know...but then pitching period is a gamble too I suppose.

    To describe a bit more, the first book would end with a confrontation that takes place before the three main characters arrive to a certain place they have been traveling to for some time. Shortly after that, the trio splits up, with two going their own way. And about there, it would end, to be concluded by the next book. Two subplots would also be introduced in the first book, but not resolved...for they'd be resolved in the second book.
    So...still exploring what to do...

  5. #5
    Verb
    Guest

    Re: The Concept of Splitting a Novel in Two...

    Many publishers and agents say that 100,000 to 120,000 words for a first novel is appropriate. I do believe that many books continue into others and that whoever you submit this to would recognize that, plus they have a follow on if the first one does great. Split it in a place where you can possibly manipulate it to carry over.

    Verb

  6. #6
    Jackie Kessler
    Guest

    Re: The Concept of Splitting a Novel in Two...

    Perhaps splitting the book into two would work, as long as you pitch it to an agent that you have completed your MS, spilt into Book One and Book Two, or something like that.

    (Side note: Tolkien actually wrote LOTR as one huge MS, and it was his publisher (or his publisher's son; I don't remember exactly) who strongly suggested turning it into three volumes. Technically speaking, LOTR is not a trilogy.)

  7. #7
    Gary Kessler
    Guest

    Re: The Concept of Splitting a Novel in Two...

    The biggest danger of splitting a novel in two is getting it sold to an agent or publisher. It's got to be extra good stuff to get across the barrier it has then constructed.

  8. #8
    Laurence
    Guest

    Re: The Concept of Splitting a Novel in Two...

    If you can make the first book stand on its own, I think you can pull this off. But the trick is this: the main conflict in Book 1 must be resolved by the end of the book.

    You can do this by elevating a subplot to "main plot" status. I take it that you have three main characters. Pick one of them and look hard at the character and figure out what subplot most concerns him/her. Focus on that; make it more important (to that character, and by extension, the reader) than the "real" main plot. Tie up that subplot with the climax, and resolve it there.

    At the end of Book 1, the reader should feel like the story is complete, even though there's plenty more to do before the bad guys are defeated. What you're going for is a feeling of completion, not necessarily the real and full completion of the plot. Yes, it's a bit of a cheat, but if it works, go for it.

    I'm not suggesting this will be easy or quick. You might end up completely rewriting a few chapters. But I think it can be done.

    Good luck!

  9. #9
    Brandon H.
    Guest

    Re: The Concept of Splitting a Novel in Two...

    Thank you for the additional responses.

    I've pretty much decided that I would have better chances if I pitched the split version rather than the full, since I really do think now that the full version would stack things against me, because of its size.

    So essentially there are two ways I can go about the split version. One, is simply splitting it where I've chosen to in either case, and letting it lie as that. There would be some resolving at the end of Book I, but there would be more deepening mysteries than anything else, so it would obviously be seen that it is the first part of a two part story. And of course, in pitching the first book to anyone, it would be told up front that it is a two part story, and that both parts are complete.

    The second way of doing it, which is harder of course, is taking a certain one of the two subplots in the story, which concerns a different character than the three I mentioned already (who are directly connected to the overall plot, you see), and beginning and ending it within the first book. It already begins in the first book...so it would be simply putting its ending in there, which would take some slight rewriting at the very least. Doing that would end the first book on a stronger resolution, as well as revealing some key information about another character within the story before I originally had it comes out in the full version.

    Hmm...so closer and closer I'm arriving at a final plan, I very much appreciate all of the input I have received. Thanks.

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