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Possible breakpoints... [message #3032] Tue, 11 January 2005 15:31 Go to next message
Sir Lee  is currently offline Sir Lee
Messages: 440
Registered: October 2003
Location: São Paulo, Brazil
Senior Member
I couldn't BELIEVE that the idea of Tuck-in-print has been going unattended for about a whole YEAR.

So, in order to bring it back to the collective minds here, a new subject:

What do you think would be good breakpoints for a multivolume edition of Tuck? Keep in mind that:

1- Ellen won't let anyone else edit the story, and probably won't be willing to do more than minor changes in order to give some "closure" to each volume.

2- The Tuck chapters average around 45 kb. 450 kb (about ten chapters) would be a fair-sized book, about the same size as The Case Book of Sherlock Holmes or Adventures of Tom Sawyer, to put it into perspective. Huckleberry Finn is a bit longer, about 570 kb. Dickens' Great Expectations is around 1 Mb, David Copperfield almost double that. There's nothing wrong with shorter books, either - Sun Tzu's Art of War is just 240 kb long. Each of the two Alice books by Lewis Carroll is about 165 kb long (Thanks, Project Gutemberg).

3- The books don't HAVE to be all exactly the same number of chapters long. They don't even have to be roughly the same size, although keeping the fluctuation under control would be nice.

4- What they DO have to do is to give the potential new reader a feel of "wanting more", instead of feeling cheated because "nothing much happens in this book" or because too much is left unresolved. Cliffhangers are good in serials (like comic books or TV series), not so much in a book, where the reader feels cheated if she paid 20 bucks for it and is left hanging.

I point this about serials because the shorter, cheaper and more frequently released the individual volumes are, the more the saga can be seen as a serial by the reader -- meaning that cliffhangers are more acceptable (hey, WE accepted them, and we are reading the story a chapter at a time, sometimes with MONTHS between).

So... any ideas? Which would be better, a few thick volumes, or a lot of thin ones? Which would be easier to sell? Which would need less editing by Ellen? (After all, we don't want to keep her from writing NEW chapters...) Which would be more PROFITABLE (hey, I want Ellen to stop worring about a day job...)?

Sir Lee

[Updated on: Sun, 16 January 2005 22:47]

Don't call me Shirley. You will surely make me surly.
Re: Possible breakpoints... [message #3033] Tue, 11 January 2005 22:30 Go to previous messageGo to next message
OtherEric  is currently offline OtherEric
Messages: 589
Registered: September 2003
Senior Member
I would personally split the books at about 14-16 chapters each. I think moderate cliffhangers would not be a bad thing, at least while already written material is getting collected. Since more books can come out at a decent pace, I think cliffhangers might help more than hurt. Books two and three and three and four would then split right at the non-Tuck perspective episodes. I'm not sure if those would work better as the end or the beginning of their respective volumes, however. Book seven could end right at the end of 100, for that matter. I would need to look in more detail for my other guesses at breakpoints, however. They don't automatically need to fall at where the current chapters split, for that matter.

That's just some quick, top of my head thoughts.
Re: Possible breakpoints... [message #3034] Wed, 12 January 2005 08:22 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Eric  is currently offline Eric
Messages: 641
Registered: January 2003
Location: San Francisco
Senior Member
It's probably obvious, but any discussion of specific breakpoints inevitably will lead to "spoilers" for those who haven't read all or nearly all of the story. Newbies should consider themselves forewarned.

I can tell you that I find it very unsatisfactory when I buy a book that leaves me up in the air at the end, with no resolution. It makes me feel that I've wasted my time reading it, and provides me with a real dilemma as to whether I want to buy the next book and hope there's an answer at the end of the tunnel, or give up the whole thing. (Personally, I buy the next book more often than not, but there are definitely times that I regret the decision later.)

So I prefer Sir Lee's POV to OtherEric's cliffhanger idea. I'd like to see each volume ending with some sort of resolution: some assurance that the story has moved forward while we've been reading. And that, given the dearth of such points in the narrative, would suggest longer volumes, maybe no more than five to seven.

Offhand, the one ideal case of what I'm looking for would be a sequence that begins just before Tuck's trip to his sister's college and ends the day after the end-of-school party. We start out with Tuck overwhelmed and considering suicide; we end with Tuck feeling good about himself and better accepted by both peers and bystanders than ever before (or ever again, as it turns out), and fully capable of literally short-circuiting any ignorant adversary who deigns to show up.

The next one would begin there, as Valerie starts babysitting the Parker and Upshaw kids, and end with the day at King's Island. (The resolution there would be Mike's punishment and then acceptance of the situation with Travis; I'd end the volume when Tuck makes it home and asleep that night.)

You'd probably have to end the next one at Field Day, which isn't as satisfactory since there are a lot of beginnings and few endings during that portion of the story. (The closest thing to an ending, possibly more so than Field Day, is the Boyz' revenge on the car of the guy who defaced Tuck's. But that's underplayed in the story because of everything else that's happening, to the point where it would take a serious rewrite to make it significant in the overall scheme of things.)

That'd provide one more volume from that point to (nearly) now, ending when Tuck woke up and started identifying the people who assaulted him. Events are, of course, coming fast and furious in this part, but it's hard to end things sooner, if one accepts my need for some sort of resolution. Just about everything in the preceding week leads right into something else: Valerie's argument with Travis leads to Valerie and Stella being alone at the mall, which leads to the interrogation scene at home and Debbie's reappearance in the plot, which becomes the cause of the Kim-Tuck argument that ends with Tuck spitting in the eye of Shannon's friend, creating the circumstance that makes Tuck's enemies especially eager to assault him that particular day, which leads to the whole hospital section. And the incidents before that whole set of developments increase tension rather than relieving it.

If we accept my reasoning and are left with just four volumes from February to nearly our current point, we'd hope for some way of dividing the earlier developments at least into two parts. I see three candidates for break points: Val's acceptance by the Pack at the first sleepover, her "debut" at the dance in the second weekend with them, or the revenge on Frank Donner.

(The first sex scene with Debbie comes too early, and there's nothing different or important enough to set apart any of the later ones -- they turn out to be vital to at least one plot development, but we don't know that yet when we read them here. Sheila the First's accident on the first date with Travis also seems to come too early to be a logical cutoff, and Tuck strikes me as too much of a bystander there. Tuck's discovery of the Lisa-Debbie relationship becomes anticlimactic when we discover that he's not prepared to use it as a strong bargaining chip and he can't or won't even enforce the few terms he does demand: Debbie and Lisa keeping him advised, and Debbie backing off on her jealousy issues, especially in same-sex situations. The dates with Travis are significant enough to use as a break, but Tuck's feelings and actions strike me as too ambiguous to create any kind of resolution there, even after Rachel deduces the reason for Tuck's reaction. Also, I have the feeling, the way things eventually work out, that magnifying the scene with Rachel by ending a volume with it might seriously distort one's reading of the rest of the story.)

So those would be my preferences. (At least, that's what comes to mind without actually going into the story to check. Another reading might lead to some other possibilities: the sleepover in Tuck's basement after his party, for example.)

Re: Possible breakpoints... [message #3038] Fri, 14 January 2005 00:11 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Eric  is currently offline Eric
Messages: 641
Registered: January 2003
Location: San Francisco
Senior Member
Time to look it up. Somebody else would have to come up with chapters per proposed section if they want to know; my copy of the Saga is continuous:

Start to 3 Feb (the, uh, Donner party) - 10% of the story to date.

6 Feb to 25 May, morning (end of school year party) - 23%.
(Or, divided at the 1 Apr school events, 15% and 8%.)

25 May to 29 Jul, midafternoon - (King's Island, Mike) - 27%.
(Divided at 6 July, morning -- does the treaty with the rats end the first section or start the other? -- 15% and 12%.)

29 Jul to:
--14 Sep - (Tuck's party, basement sleepover) - 24%.
--19 Sep - (Field Day) - 28%.
(Divided at 10 Aug -- end of camping trip -- 6% and 18%, unfortunately. 15 Aug -- start of school -- 8% and 16%. I'm not finding anything logical that's more even; 1 Sep -- Labor Day with Travis -- is about 19% and 9%, using Field Day as the end point, and doesn't break as easily.)
14 Sep to:
--3 Oct (iced car) - 7%.
--5 Oct ("...you have not been thinking. Please do so now.") - 8%
--now ("we've got names...get ready to copy") - 15%

(Remaining 1% is a combination of rounding error, sloppy estimates and the uncollected final paragraphs.)

Not as bad as I thought, actually, before writing this: it provides a lighter (both in length and tone) introduction (10%) followed by three somewhat massive books -- 23%, 27%, 24% (or 28%), with another of comparable size to come, ending a few chapters from now. Or subdividing, 10, 15, 8, 15, 12, 8, 16, 15.
Re: Possible breakpoints... [message #3041] Fri, 14 January 2005 09:01 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Ellen Hayes  is currently offline Ellen Hayes
Messages: 684
Registered: September 2002
Senior Member
But, having them widely differing widths would look funny... *sighs*

Also, going by one company's guideline, max book size is 140,000 words, at *gulp* $21.95...

Re: Possible breakpoints... [message #3043] Sat, 15 January 2005 22:48 Go to previous messageGo to next message
M  is currently offline M
Messages: 4
Registered: October 2003
Location: San Antonio
Junior Member
Is that what you would have to pay, or the minimum you could get away with charging for them? If its what you have to pay, thats harsh. I know that Cafe press's book making section sets a minimum sale price, which the seller can then raise to whatever she feels gives her a good profit margin.

But if its what we would have to pay for dead-tree-format Tuck then thats actually not to bad. 140,000 words is about 400 standard novel pages without any breaks for chapters (aprox. 350 words per page for a paperback novel). Softbound gaming books are usually thirty or more dollars, at way fewwer pages.

Besides, from personal experience you dont want to go more than 4 or 5 hundred pages in a paperback. Much bigger than that and the covers tend to fall apart after one reading (my poor Wheel of Time paperbacks).
Re: Possible breakpoints... [message #3055] Sun, 23 January 2005 20:03 Go to previous messageGo to next message
iWindoze  is currently offline iWindoze
Messages: 172
Registered: September 2002
Location: USA
Senior Member
Ellen Hayes wrote on Fri, 14 January 2005 08:01

But, having them widely differing widths would look funny... *sighs*

So why not do it the Spider Robinson way, (ala his Callahan's
Series) and just toss in a few of your other works in the smaller
books as paddin---errr...as a chance to read the other stuff
Ellen wrote.
Or perhaps add in a few worthy fanfics that fit well
with the breakpoint in question? Just a thought.

--iWindoze (looking at a username change, comming soon...)
Re: Possible breakpoints... [message #3057] Sun, 23 January 2005 20:05 Go to previous messageGo to next message
M  is currently offline M
Messages: 4
Registered: October 2003
Location: San Antonio
Junior Member
But if she did that with fanfics, she'd had to deal with the other author's copywrite rights, wouldnt she?
Re: Possible breakpoints... [message #3062] Thu, 27 January 2005 22:06 Go to previous message
iWindoze  is currently offline iWindoze
Messages: 172
Registered: September 2002
Location: USA
Senior Member
M wrote on Sun, 23 January 2005 19:05

But if she did that with fanfics, she'd had to deal with the other author's copywrite rights, wouldnt she?

Rolling Eyes ...And you honestly expect anyone to have issues with that?
Most of 'em would be likely just overjoyed with the idea that Ellen
considered one of their stories worthy of being included, don'tcha
think? She'd just need ask their permission--right? And given that
these are people whose writing center in HER original
fiction (?) landscape I'm certain that permission would be granted
if only to say 'Thanks for the many years of entertainment!' What
might be difficult I'd imagine is perhaps finding all these people.
Not everyone keeps up with their internet addresses.

Heck, I'm still finding myself logging into sites and finding them to
be using my old iwindoze@f###microsoft.com alias address, from
YEARS ago! Embarassed

That said, Ellen has written enough of her own 'other stuff' to take up
any percieved slack, I'm sure.

--iWindoze aka bornagainpenguin
(just gotta get that iPaq to sync...)
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