Monday, May 19, 2014

Ending a Series

Since I'm just in the throes of beginning a series (or two!) that's where my focus has been. It's exciting and I love the characters.

But what about ending one?

I'm about half-way through the last installment in a long-running and popular series. And right now I'm not very satisfied. There's a story there, I know there is, but there also seems to be a whole lot of backstory and that's troublesome. 

Is that the only way to wrap soemthing up?

If you've read a series through to the last, I'd love to hear from you. What made that last book work? What didn't?

It's all better with friends.


  1. Many readers don't realize that ending a series is not necessarily an author's choice! What's a writer to do? End each book as if it's the last, I guess.

    1. That's good advice, Camille.

      But what about when it's the author's choice? There must be some good tips on how to make it a satisfying without necessarily making it a happily ever after kind of thing or revisiting almost every storyline in the series.

      I guess I'm just trying to plan ahead.

  2. The best final book is a series I ever read was Walter Satterthwait's final book in the Joshua Croft series (Accustomed to the Dark). It's difficult to reconstruct exactly what made it such an amazing book (I read it 18 years ago), but mostly it involved Croft undertaking a quest of vengeance and, in the process, resolving a major part of his life...I have no idea whether that's helpful...

    1. It is... having a major part of the character arc create resolution would be very satisfying. A nice way to end a long relationship...


  3. This might not satisfy anyone, but I think the final book in a series should be just like all the other books in the series, UNLESS there are long-unresolved and often-referred to multi-book character arcs that, if not tied in a neat little knot, will make the reader feel cheated. And if there are such long-unresolved arcs that are central to the main plots of the series installments, I would probably not be reading the series. One or two books seems to me like the longest permissible distance to stretch out a story, or you run the risk of writing not a series but a serial, which is really a different form. (Obviously, I'm talking about IMPORTANT unresolved issues involving principle characters, such as the quest to destroy the Ring in Tolkein, but let's not forget that Tolkein viewed the entire LORD OF THE RINGS as a single book and was quite miffed when his publishers broke it up into a trilogy.) The ending of a final book should satisfy just to the extent that all the others did -- I can't see the sense of dredging up past story lines so as to crochet a neat little ending for everything.

  4. Thanks, Tim. I think there's a lot of wisdom in creating a final book that's just like all of the other books in the series.

    New question... maybe I'll post a new blog... ;)