D is for Duology

On the fourth day of the A to Z challenge, I’d like to talk about duologies—specifically, what they are, if they’re even real, and why I’m writing one (which may or may not be a spoiler for the “if they’re real” statement).

So how does the dictionary define “duology”? Well . . . it doesn’t, actually. The term has been suggested for addition to at least the Collins dictionary, but has not yet been pushed through. The Oxford dictionary does recognize it.

Let’s get nerdy for a minute. The -logy (and -ology) suffix is generally used in subjects or bodies of knowledge (like “ecology” or “psychology”) and in types of writing and speeches (like “eulogy” and “trilogy”).

The latter is where duology comes in. As the term itself implies, it is a duo of work—a work in two parts, just as a trilogy is a set of three books, movies, etc. So, you may be wondering why duology isn’t considered an actual word when trilogy is. For that . . . I have no answer. Though my research did discover other strange facts that I hadn’t previously even thought about.

Duology isn’t the only word missing. Technically, hexalogy (6), heptalogy (7), octalogy (8) and decalogy or decalog (10) are also terms that have been thrown around without being in the Merriam-Webster dictionary. Words for the other numbers below ten already exist (trilogy, tetralogy, pentalogy)—except for nine, apparently. I would like to submit “nonology” for this purpose.

While series may not be deliberately designed as a set of eight, nine, or however many other books/movies often enough to warrant the terms, I argue that duologies are. Yes, trilogies are more common than spoons in a kitchen, but there are also plenty of authors who fully intend on writing a book that is followed by a sequel, and also some who make that decision later on.

I am one of them.

Honestly, it’s a pretty simple reason: After brainstorming and plotting and thinking everything through, I simply don’t feel the story I want to tell would have enough engaging material to properly support a trilogy, but there’s far too much for a single novel.

I intend for there to be a small time jump between the two novels, and nothing of significance happens during that uncovered period—otherwise, I would be including it. The next novel picks up at the next important part of the storyline. Meaning a trilogy would involve something occurring in a novel after book 2. However, the story is concluded at the end of the second book. I envisioned a potential scenario that could take place many years after the first 2 books, but them I’m just trying to invent something to extend the story into a third book for the sake of having a trilogy.

Another option is to try to break up book 2 into separate books, drawing half of it into a third. But then I would need to add substantial material, again, for the sole purpose of forcing an extra book.

“Saggy middle” is a term often used to discuss the middle section of a book that seems to drag out, with little action or character growth. This is where readers might bow out of the story and add it to their DNF (did not finish) list. The same thing can happen with a trilogy of books, movies, etc. The big opening pulls readers/viewers in, they then suffer through the second part with high hopes for the end, and then the big climax leaves readers/viewers satisfied (hopefully).

So why bother with a trilogy? Sad to say, it’s usually for the money. In situations like the above, a story that would have been fantastic in two parts was dragged out just because trilogies are popular, which diminishes the impact of the story. If you have a story to tell that properly fills out three parts (or more!) without fluffing it to drag it out, then absolutely go for it! Trilogies can be great fun—but only when done with intent and with a focus on moving the plot and characters forward in a significant way.

I know my story doesn’t have a trilogy in it, and that’s okay. The two books will be stronger for it. I have a novella planned to tell the backstory of one of the characters (and there are plenty of options to write others), and my freebie will be a short story—that isn’t a spoiler, since the event I’m covering is discussed early in the first novel—about the situation that made the novels come about in the first place.

I’m satisfied with that. That isn’t to say I might not come up with a brilliant idea for a third book down the road, or interest could end up being high enough to have me think if there’s another story to tell, but I’m not forcing it. I hate trilogies that should have been duologies, and we’ve all seen movies that had sequels when the story should have been told in only one.

Joking aside, it’s a topic I’m passionate about. I don’t care for fluff being added for fluff’s sake—tell me the story. Period. And I want to be sure that I don’t unintentionally fall into that trap of creating a trilogy for popularity’s sake alone.

What books, movies, or other forms of entertainment have you consumed that you felt was dragged out longer than necessary?

6 thoughts on “D is for Duology

  1. I love this! I can think of several examples where 2 books would have been better than 3, or 3 books would have been better as 4. It’s best to know where your story is and stick with what you know is best!

    ~Jayden R. Vincente
    Stopping by from A to Z
    Erotic Fiction Author

    • I completely agree! Some of these stories out there are so obviously dragged out, and it really weakens what could have been a great story!

  2. I have read the word Duology before, but it definitely is not as common as trilogy. That being said, I love authors who know the limits of their stories and have them end in a wizards way: Not to early, not to late.

    • I completely agree! My stories shall end precisely when I mean them to. Thank you for coming by!

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