I just finished reading Nabakov’s Favorite Word Is Mauve, by Ben Blatt, which uses statistics to analyze various popular and classic works of literature. For example, the book examines the favorite words of popular authors, whether it is possible to determine whether a man or a woman wrote a book through analysis, whether there is such a thing as an author “fingerprint,” and so forth.
It was a really interesting read, and one point caught in my mind. When discussing Suzanne Collins’ THE HUNGER GAMES, the author noted that all three HUNGER GAMES books are nearly the same length, and have very similar internal structures – number of chapters, length of chapters, and so forth.
I think this point caught in my mind because it wasn’t at all surprising to me. I write really long series, and to do really long series, the writer has to settle on a structure for the books. That makes it far easier to a series that can sustain itself over an extended length.
Like, the FROSTBORN series for example. The first thirteen FROSTBORN books are all 24 chapters long, and they all land between 90,000 and 105,000 words in length. The only exceptions are the second-to-last book FROSTBORN: THE DRAGON KNIGHT, which was 26 chapters long, and the final book FROSTBORN: THE SHADOW PRISON, which was 33 chapters long. The extra length was necessary to make sure that the series ended properly, since there is nothing that readers hate more than a long-running series that screws up the ending. (For example, see the ending of THE SOPRANOS.)
I did the same thing with the GHOST EXILE series, but less rigorously. The first 7 books were all between 21 and 24 chapters. Starting with the seventh book, GHOST IN THE THRONE, the length began creeping up, and the final book GHOST IN THE WINDS was the longest of all. Again, it was to make sure that the series hit the ending properly.
MASK OF THE DEMONSOULED was probably my most consistent series – all 3 books had exactly 20 chapters.
But I digress a bit. Nabakov’s Favorite Word Is Mauve was definitely an interesting read if you’re interesting in writing and publishing.