Maureen McGowan closes out The Dust Chronicles withGlory. The author shares her thoughts on the final installment and trends in trilogies.
In the realm of fiction, a trilogy is a set of three books. Unless you’re Douglas Adams—in which case it’s five.
Looking at the best seller lists for young adult fiction from the past decade, it almost seems as though writing trilogies was mandatory. I have my own theories—in fact, a trilogy of theories—to explain this trend.
Theory 1: Readers enjoy trilogies. Once readers fall for a set of characters and a world, they want more, more, more.
Theory 2: Many of the stories that YA authors want to tell don’t fit inside a single ninety-thousand word novel. The stories are too big.
Theory 3: And… this one is less generous. Some authors drag out a plot—which could easily be covered in one book—over three books.
When I was first noodling with the idea that became the Dust Chronicles (Deviants, Compliance, and Glory) I quickly realized that either I had to rein in my story ideas—about Glory, a girl with a deadly secret and the post-apocalyptic world she lived in—or write her story as a trilogy. The story was too big.
Now, I’m not one for reining things in, but I’d never tackled a trilogy before so I spent a lot of time considering what makes good ones work. While I didn’t discover a formula or a single answer, the goals I set for myself were:
Create a compelling story thread that spans all three books.
Each book should be its own satisfying read and none should end mid-scene or with a major cliffhanger.
Book 2 of the trilogy should not be slow or a filler book. Au contraire, it should be the meat of the story.
Each book should be different and not repeat the same structure or plot points.
The main character should transform over the course of each book. That is, if she faced the challenges from book 3 in books 1 or 2, she would fail.
While it will be hard to leave behind the world and characters I created for the Dust Chronicles, I hope I achieved my goals. I can’t wait to share new worlds and characters with readers.