Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Art of Sequels in Christian Romance

This is a break-away from my usual – just review a book I have read. My son was visiting me this weekend and was quite surprised that his mother had a blog, and that I actually knew how to use it! He has always admired my love of books, but has also been a little cynical of the type of books I always read (which is Christian romance fiction). He was of the opinion I should also give my views on different aspects of the books I read, for example my type 5 favorite authors and why, the type 10 best books to read this summer, etc. I wasn’t sure I was up to the task, so he said he would help my get started by being first and writing as a guest poster. So feel free to read and respond, I will look forward to your thoughts on my sons “humor”!


Hello, dear friends and readers. It is my privilege to be the first guest poster on this fine blog. You may be asking - what in the world does a 31 year old male know about Christian Romance novels…and, how in the name of rip-roaring love triangles can this youngster have any insights into the proper number of sequels in a Christian Romance Series? It is a fair question, and while my credentials may be weak, I feel as though I am up for the task.

Let’s start at the very beginning, the stand alone novel. Yes, folks, occasionally, I have been told that a Christian Romance author has the audacity to think that they have written everything that needs to be said in one book. Of course, this typically means that their book sold about 7 copies. But, every now and then, it means that the author wrote something of such epic proportions that there is nothing new to say by continuing the story through another thousand pages. We all know that this is rare and a waste of good characters, so I won’t say too much about the stand alone novel.

What about the mere one sequel, for a total of two books? This is another rare breed. The author writes a book and simply follows it up with one more about the same characters. …okay, who I am kidding, this doesn’t exist, let’s move on…

The trilogy. …ever since Star Wars (or, quite possibly, earlier) the trilogy has become legendary in scope. In true, sweep-me-off-my-feet fashion, the trilogy honestly says, “I have more to say than what I can fit into one book…and, guess what?...the second book is actually just setting you up for the grand finale in book three”. For my money, the trilogy is the only way to go. If I may make an analogy in romance-ese…? The trilogy is the dashing young man who we all know the author should be with… …and, yet.

And, yet, the author is so often tempted to be with Brad-the-charmer-who-we-all-know-will-end-up-hurting-her. It’s hard to believe, and yet, true…sometimes authors move past the trilogy. They continue writing about the same characters for a strange numbers of sequels. There can be an argument made for certain round numbers. For example, 5 books in a series could potentially work. And, in theory, a decalogue of books could provide space for an interesting family tree project. But, anything in-between spells trouble. Seriously, who wants to have a 9 part series on their shelf? Seeing “Part 4” on your shelf, without part 5 is embarrassing.

There is another category even more embarrassing than the odd number series. This is the “Help, the publisher cut the brake line when I started making money” series. …also known as “the Gilbert Morris: I Accidently Used Up all the Roman Numerals” syndrome. When your first grader can’t count as high as the number of books in a series, I recommend pulling your funding from the offending author. There are only so many ways to fall in love.

So, there you have it. The only self-respecting number in the world of Christian Romance is 1 or 3. How many books are in your favorite series? What is your opinion on the matter? …with these sobering questions at hand, I will close up shop…I don’t want to hold you back from any romance novels that may be calling for your attention.

For my next guest post: “Steps to Making a Romance Novel Cover”. Step 1: Close-up of woman’s face. Step 2: Semi-shadowy shot of distressed man in background. Or, variable option – Purple flowers in grassy field (color optional, based on intended mood of book).


Sherry Kuhn said...

Well Joshua, you have been a guest speaker at your dad's church and now on your mom's blog. Does it get any better than that?!

Loved your post BTW! And just so you know you're actually correct in 3 being the magic number. There were several authors recently discussing this topic and most said that publishers will only accept 3 books to a series.

Most of my favorite series have 3 books to them. I tend to agree that if you take the series too far the interest wanes. However, I also have many stand-alone favorites!

Ah well, I could say more but I do have a very important romance novel needing my attention! ;-)

Looking forward to your next guest post on "Steps to Making a Romance Novel Cover".

S.D. Smith said...

This adds more constructive thought to the mountains of scholarship forming on the prismatic subject of Christian Romance Literature. Thank you for your contribution, Mister Glidden.

I think I will base a character on you in my forthcoming Christian Romance, "Amish You So Much." It's about an Amish community where an apparently bad-boy Amish fellow gets kicked out because of something he supposedly did, but really he saved them all and the girl always believes in him and they get...wait for it....married at the end. And all of her troubles are over.

Bravo, sir. Bravo.

Joshua said...

Sherri - It doesn't get much better, but it might improve if someday I could write a preface to a book that you and my Mom co-write. I think it would either have to be 1) Christian romance fiction, 2) Thrift Store Shopping for Books for Dummies (careful how you read that sentence), or 3) How to fit 1 million books in a house and make it only look like 1,000. ...look me up when the time is right.

Mr. Smith - Can my character take part in a barn raising? It would be preferable if this scene involves me being very thirsty and my lady friend bringing me a drink...perhaps we don't speak, but our eyes meet? Thank you in advance for honoring this request.

matt said...

I didn't know my mom had an internet account either. She is living a secret internet life.