Do Story Trilogies Always End in War?

I just blazed through Hollow City, the sequel to Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As I neared the end, I noticed a trend in sequels, especially ones that lead to a trilogy: War.

HOLLOW-CITY-COVER

I don’t think I’m giving away too much when I read that the peculiars in the book were gearing up for a war against the hollows. (There’re plenty of other twists in the book that will keep you guessing). Now, I don’t know if the peculiar series will be a trilogy or keep going, but I do know they’re following a trilogy pattern set forth by many previous books.

Let’s face it. Sequels need to be more than their predecessor. Bigger. Flashier. With more risk. Some story trilogies handle this by piling on the villains. (Think about the orginal Batman movies. You have Joker in the first one. Then Penguin and Catwoman int he second. By the third, the landscape is littered with villains.)

The smarter story trilogies go for the “war” arc. In the first book, it’s only the protagonist up against the ropes. He or she has to face amazing odds. By the sequel, though, the landscape of conflict broadens. Often book two (or movie two) is a prelude to war. Characters are gearing up. The final payoff comes in the final installment where all hell breaks loose.

Don’t believe me? Here are some examples.

Hunger Games: This one is almost the template for the war arc. Book one is only Katniss. By book two, she’s swept up in a conspiracy to use her as a leader for the resistance. Then book three is all about the war.

Jennifer-Lawrence-and-Josh-Hutcherson-in-THe-Hunger-Games-Catching-Fire-2013-Movie-Image

Uglies: Still my favorite book series, it too follows the war arc, although a bit more slowly. In book two (Pretties), Tally leaves the rebellion to go “undercover” in the city. Yet it completes the cycle by making her a super-weapon to help fight the war in the third book (Specials).

Lord of the Rings: True, both the second and third books have wars, but the scope expands. Two Towers has Rohan fighting for survival and the force against them seems gargantuan. Yet this battle seems teeny when compared to the epic clash for Gondor in Return of the King. Think about it. This book series started with nine companions, yet broadened to take on the whole world of Middle Earth.

1384545423667

Star Wars: I’m only going to look at the original movies (Episodes IV through VI), though I imagine this war arc would apply to the prequels. True, the rebellion attacks and destroys the Death Star in Episode IV. Yet this was just Lucus going for broke. Who knew if he’d ever get funding for the remaining movies. Then compare the rebel force from New Hope to the rebels at the end of Empire Strikes Back. A complete scale up. The rebels are preparing for a massive battle that happens, surprise, in the third movie (Return of the Jedi).

Battle_of_Endor

Does this war arc hold true for any other books or films? You tell me. Comment below if you have any other stellar examples.

Tim Kane

Keep Your Distance

Nothing is worse for an artist than taking critiques personally. I know that for myself, when folks tell me I need to change some of my manuscript, I get these little squirmy worms in my chest that wiggle around. I don’t want to change anything. But then I sit back and think. Give it some time to sink in. That’s when I know that the changes will only make the writing stronger.

Think about those artists who were given total control. Few can deliver. For example, the reason why the first three Star Wars movies (IV, V, and VI) were so great was that Lucas had to answer to the producers. The greatest Han Solo line of all time (I know) was an ad lib. Lucas would have cut it, but the producers saw gold and kept it in. Yet when Lucas made the prequels (I, II, and III) they lacked the spontaneity of the older films. They were too controlled. Sure, they followed his vision, but had no spark.

Then there are the Beatles. I’ve a big fan and always find it obvious which songs were written mostly by Lennon and which were by McCartney. Yet the credits always say Lennon and McCartney. Even though one of them must have taken the lead, the other probably played the Devils advocate—critiquing and adding.Even by there last recorded album (Abbey Road) when they were pretty much working independently, the songs still have that collaborative effort. When they split, both John and Paul had their own hits, but none rose to the level of earlier Beatles songs. They had no alter-ego critiquing.

The message: Let people read and critique your work. Only make sure that these people are professionals. You can gain nothing by reading sour reviews. Don’t go there.

Tim Kane

It’s Midsummer: Time for Human Sacrifice

One of my most favorite flicks to watch this time of year is The Wicker Man. Not the god-awful remake with Nicolas Cage, but the 1973 original with Christopher Lee. For those of you not familiar with that name, he’s probably better known these days as Count Dooku from the Star Wars prequels or Saruman from The Lord of the Rings. For me, I shall always remember him as Dracula from the series of Hammer monster films in the 60s and 70s.

The Wicker Man shows the conflict of traditional Christianity, in the form of Sergeant Neil Howie, and paganism, in the form of Summerisle. It turns out the the crops last year weren’t so splendid. Therefore, the island needs a human sacrifice. A virgin to be precise. They lure the sergeant there on the pretense of a missing girl. Though he’s the one they’re after. The film culminates with the poor fella being locked in a ginormous wicker man and being set ablaze.

The comedy of the film lies in this totally proper sergeant butting heads with some free loving hippie pagans. There’s a scene where naked girls are leaping over a fire in order to get pregnant. Sergeant Howie objects to their nudity. To which Lord Summerisle (played by Christopher Lee) responds: “Naturally! It’s much too dangerous to jump through fire with their clothes on!”

A year or so ago, I stumbled upon a version of this wonderful film as played by the Muppets. Below is a YouTube preview. But the real fun lies in the web-comic. It completely embodies the spirit of the film.

Tim Kane