Series or Trilogy?

4/10/17

Someone recently mentioned that I shouldn’t call my latest series of books a series because they should be referred to as a trilogy, seeing as my series will only contain three books (tentatively, I might do more or some spinoffs, depending on how well this series does). But what are the rules when it comes to these distinctions? Technically, there aren’t any.

It’s common to hear among literary circles online that two books is a duology, three is a trilogy, and four or more is a series. But where is that an official literary rule? Nowhere, because it’s not.

The thing is they’re not entirely wrong. It is correct to call two books a duology, or three books a trilogy, BUT, according to all my research, and practical applications, it is also accurate to call them a series. You can use both terms because both are correct.

Now I know Wikipedia is not an official source on anything but do take this quote into consideration.

“This is for articles on novel series—which are a set or series of novels or books that should be read in order as is often the case in speculative fiction and all its subgenres. Can be thought of as one over-riding storyline, and is often without plot re-introduction, reiteration or reminder, save for cursory mention of past events.”

See source 1 and source 2.

A series can refer to a multi-part serial of one long story, whereas a trilogy can refer to both a multi-part serial or to three individual works that may only share a common theme or setting.

See source.

I also highly encourage you to read this interesting article that was written on the varying distinctions.

In my personal experience publishing my work online, a series is a set category of more than one book forming one major overarching storyline. For example on Amazon self-publishing, Goodreads, and Archive of Our Own (AO3), you have the option to list or categorize your book as being part of a series if there is more than just one book that follows the same story line. Meaning, two, three, four, a hundred, as long as they’re all a part of the same overall story, it’s a series. Is it also a duology if there are only two books? Yes. Is it also a trilogy if there are only three books? Yes. A duology can be a series. A trilogy can be a series. Both distinctions apply.

Maybe I’m picky or biased because I like the sound of Convergence Series better than Convergence Trilogy. Maybe somewhere there is an official rule book for literary distinctions and the penalty for breaking the rules is to be cast into a pit of fire, or someone will come and break my fingers so I can’t write anymore. Maybe I’m entirely wrong.

What do you guys think? Do both terms apply? Or can there be only one?

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