a cast of characters thrown into different situations over a discrete period of time.
My Rowe-Delamagente series is exactly this. My main characters (Kali, Zeke, Otto, and a few others) follow the timeline of their life while fighting bad guys.
Then, a couple of months ago, it struck me that my new prehistoric fiction series, Man vs. Nature, ISN’T this at all. The cast of characters changes with each novel as does the setting and time. I consider it a series because the theme is consistent through all the books–how man survives the challenges of nature to become who we are. This fits Wikipedia’s definition of ‘series’:
“A book series is a sequence of books having certain characteristics in common that are formally identified together as a group.”
Besides my definition problem, I had a second problem with my WIP, supposedly Book 2 in the Man vs. Nature series: Book 2 is too long for one book so I need to break it into two books. Now I have a two-book diptych (duology? what’s a two-volume book called?) within a series. Really my head started to spin.
Enter the experts. I happen to be friends with Janet Reid, a thriller agent who has a Q&A column on her blog. Just to be clear, ‘friends’ may not be the right word. She did turn down both of my thrillers but that does make her familiar with me and my writing. Anyway, I sent this confusing question to her—
I am writing a historical fiction series that will be about six books. It’s a saga chronicling events surrounding significant points in the evolution of early man, each book separated by thousands of years. The second book in the series is overly long and I must separate it into two books. The second book (of the two) will immediately follow the first with no ‘thousands of years’ separation.
Here’s my question: How do I describe the two books within the series? Are they a diptych? And would I then describe them as a diptych within a series?
I guess I piqued her interest because she selected my question to be posted on her blog. Not only did I get her answer but lots of input from her amazing community of highly-qualified writers. Here’s a snippet of her answer and then click through for the rest of her sensible thoughts and the collection of community comments. Thanks to this, I’ve completely changed my thinking about Man vs. Nature as a series, which you’ll hear more about in future updates.
It may come as a surprise to you that editors might not want a book that happens several thousand years later as a sequel. For starters, all those characters we loved in Book One are dead. Long dead.
More on Man vs. Nature
Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers, and the upcoming Born in a Treacherous Time, first in the Man vs. Nature collection. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for TeachHUB, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning.