Screenwriting : Trilogies - yay or nay? by Stefano Pavone

Stefano Pavone

Trilogies - yay or nay?

Dear Stage 32,

I have a bit of a dilemma - as such, it is preventing me from writing anything until this big beast of a block is cleared. Let me explain:

Over the course of a decade or so, I wrote a 3-part novel which I later adapted into 3 screenplays, forming a trilogy. This year, I received some feedback from people who had read it and told me that the subplot was stronger than the main one. Taking their advice to heart, I made the subplot its own independent story, which now spans 2 scripts instead of 3. I am now developing doubts as to whether or not trilogies are a bit passé, and if I should go for the duology model instead.

Yours sincerely,


Peter Roach

That happens.

I am watching a ridiculous (as in weird funny) Chinese Netflix fantasy series now with the same issue. The protagonist’s love story is what is expected. He is strong moral, gets the girl, but boring. In other words his character has no place to grow. Meh, seen that 900 times.

The second female character’s story is more appealing because it is unexpected. She is bad ass at times, whiny other times, has surprising responses to obstacles. Plot B for me is just more interesting.

Write your trilogy. It is much easier to edit down than write up.

Stefano Pavone

I already did write it - the novel, the 3 scripts, the works... I'm just having doubts.

Peter Roach

Don't doubt yourself. Just push the first.

Stefano Pavone

That's the plan - Part 1 is self-contained, so if it does become a success, then I can go for 2 and 3 back-to-back. :) Simple. Squeaks

Craig D Griffiths

Find the best and push that. When you have sold that you have a potential customer for the other two.

Danny Manus

There is no such thing as a sequel until someone else tells you there is. do yourself a favor, forget about trilogies and sequels. Put ALL your best shit from all 3 scripts into ONE amazing script and try to sell that. if it truly warrants a sequel, studios will hire someone to write it.

Karen Stark

Perhaps you have a series rather than a film with the content you have created.

Dan MaxXx

You do know when you sell a screenplay to a corporation, your idea doesn't belong to you anymore.

Seems like a waste of Time writing screenplay trilogies of the same idea.

Better yet, write books which become best sellers and then there is an audience to make 2-3 films.

Phil Clarke

Three very solid answers above for you, Stefano. They speaketh the truth-eth. ;)

Nouzha Evans

…at this point, isolation from any type of influence is your best friend. Read, delete extras & re-build one strong screenplay.

Stefano Pavone

Let me explain it more clearly: it's ONE book - a single novel - which is divided into 3 acts (all within the same book). All 3 acts have their own dedicated scripts. Act 1 stands alone, while Acts 2 & 3 form a loose 2-part story (which has since been remade as its own two self-contained works). This allows me to do the literary equivalent of the classic shareware model which was used for older video games (the first part is available for free and if you like it, then you can order the rest). In this case, I intend to promote the first story and if that's golden, then 2 & 3 follow.

Thanks for the comments and tips, everyone. I know exactly what I'm doing here.

Stefano Pavone

I was having doubts a few days ago (partly due to lack of sleep). Now that I've actually slept, I'm more sure of myself. I'm more aware of what I have to do... and I need to think before taking action, of course. If I do have any doubts left, then I need to put them aside.

Imo Wimana Chadband

Stefano, the masses have spoken :) You've been given some good advice moving forward. Wishing you the best, bro!

P.S. Don't doubt yourself (^_^)

Julian Martin

Trilogies will probably never be passe, but there is more room for duologies and quadrilogies, quintologies, etc. Find the number that makes the best story.

As other people are saying, obviously it's not totally pragmatic to write a screenplay trilogy, and you will get loads of crap for even daring to try. I wrote an action trilogy and wanted to see how I could get coverage for all three on another social media platform and pretty much got lambasted for even asking. I mean, f*** them in their ears, hard, because what was most important to me was to create something good and worry about the practicality of seeing all three made later, and yes I already knew to make the first one a kick-ass standalone if nothing else got greenlit.

Dan MaxXx

You had 10 years to figure it out. I guess the approach of writing sample spec screenplays was never thought long and hard. It’s either “my scripts are made or nothing.”

How or what has happened with the novel?

Derek Reid

Seems hard enough to sell a script for one movie... and after selling (or working on) a movie I figure the writer could be better positioned to pitch a trilogy if they wanted.

Derek Reid

Even Peter Jackson only got offered $ for one LOTR movie prior to New Line if I'm remembering correctly.

Stefano Pavone

Dan MaxXx I'm still figuring it out now at 31 after nearly 15 years of writing screenplays. The novel... well... it's available for download (I am not putting the link up here as I am wary of revealing something near and dear to my heart in public) and I've written into my will (morbid, I know) that the scripts and novel can never, ever be used or made in any way after my death. I'll try and focus on just the first part - if that works, then the second and third parts can be considered.

Dan Guardino

I wrote a trilogy and optioned the first screenplay to a good size production company but they didn't even want to read the second or third ones so I would never write all three again.

Louis Tété

It doesn't matter if it's a duology or a trilogy in my opinion, if the content is there and the stories are well crafted, who cares. However the first screenplay of the trilogy will be determining that's for sure.

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