Hello Quadrilogy

Need series. Fallen series. Twilight Saga. Inheritance Cycle.

Enter the quadrilogy.

For many of us, the concept of a trilogy makes sense. Just like any story, there’s a beginning, middle, and end. It’s logical and expected. We meet everyone and get a sense of the big conflict in the first, the plot thickens in the second, and then we get handed a big finale in the third. Makes sense, right?

But lately, I’ve noticed a growing trend toward having four books in a series. There are good and bad reasons for this, I guess. Let me explain.

My first inclination is to think that publishers know that once someone is hooked on a series, they’ll buy all the books to get to the end of the story. Four books, therefore, makes more financial sense than three. I can’t be mad at them for maximizing profit. I mean, more profit means more money to publish more books. Everybody wins.

But the question I have is whether the overall story suffers from this beginning, middle, middle, end formula. Let me put it this way–do we really need four books?

In some series, many readers might say yes. Once you fall in love with a set of characters, it’s hard to let them go. Whether adding books affects the quality of story-telling probably depends more on the author’s skill than the needs of the story.

As I writer, I’m pretty happy with the trilogy. If I can’t tell the story in three exciting parts, then I feel that the story is awkward and unwiedly. But certainly there are series where the amount of information and events needed for a satisfactory conclusion necessitate four parts.

I’m not going to say whether all the series mentioned above need all four books. But I will tell you that all but one could probably have been told really well with less. Then again, it comes down to this–do we, as readers, mind when we get more out of a series we love, even if so much of it is fluff, or would we prefer a smaller amount of quality writing?

The jury, for me, is still out.

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