As a storyteller, endings are difficult. My characters are real and breathing entities. They have lives before they walk into the pages of my tales and lives afterwards if they survive.
So where do you terminate the telling of their lives, when do you release them and the reader?
When writing a one shot story, it’s simple. The story is told and ends. The end just sort of comes out and finishes.
But when writing a series, the decision to cut off one novel and start the next one causes me hours and hours of anxious plotting and strategizing.
Right now I’m writing two series, set in different worlds. Pegasus King has been going up two chapters a week on a site called AdultFanfiction under the original fiction category. In two or three weeks, the book will be finished.
It’s rather sad. I’m going to miss going in every Saturday and posting the two chapters, answering reader questions and comments, experiencing their reading experience. There’s something powerful getting response chapter by chapter to something still being formed under my hands. The reader’s joy, anger, frustration, has taught me so much. I don’t regret for a moment posting the story for free. The training has been amazing and the readers’ passion for the story has kept me on the keyboard when nothing else but this blog could even make me look at the blank page over the past three months.
And it’s coming to a close.
But book two is being planned.
I have to make the cut, for what exactly goes into book one and what is settled in book two, in the coming week. It’s making me think about endings, conclusions, and wrap-ups very hard. Right now I’m also editing the second book in Silence of Elysium and there some similar issues. How much do your wrap up between series novels, how much do you leave hanging to encourage the reader to come back? Is there a difference when you’re basically telling a story live to an audience then when you’re wrapping up a tight novel between two pieces of hardcover and sending it out on its own?
My rule of thumb, funny enough, is from the school playground. Do unto the reader as you would wish a writer to do to you. Ok, yes, I’m paraphrasing and twisting to my own ends, but it’s the best I have to go on right now. It’s not an issue I’ve heard author’s talk or wright about often and I believe it’s different for each story. That being said, it’s still a knotty issue!
And I know now from reading the comments made each week on Pegasus King that I am NOT my readers! And I have a very funny suspicion that if I gave them everything they asked for as they asked for it, they wouldn’t like the story so thoroughly. Just a suspicion. Because I yell at my favorite authors all the time and they make me deliciously wait for the end, as well!
“The End” borrowed from wikipedia.
All other photos were personally taken by Ciara Darren.
I love the sun in the sky picture. I can never get enough looking at a pretty sky!
I’m afraid I have no practical experience with endings, as my trilogy (that’s what it turned into) is not yet completed. Nor can I really advise on how much goes into which book because I’ve just continued writing as my story grew so that I don’t have proper start points and end points worked out yet (I just have a mass of pages that is readily divisible by three).
The benefit of someone else’s experience that I can offer you regarding endings, which I recently read on a blog, is that all story questions related to main characters should be answered to a satisfying extent, but those of minor characters can be left open (both to not make the ending too pat and also to leave room for potential sequels/spinoffs.
Usually I would agree, but in this case, I find my story more like Lord of the Rings in the fact that the journey is ongoing but too long to contain in one volume. There is a naturally rhythm like a song, a lull if you will in the larger arc. Hence the major struggle! I think I’ve found a a healthy balance though. One major issue at least shall be resolved ^_^ Best of luck on your own ending points!
I think (and please bear in mind I’m a million miles away from experienced at this stuff) that you end where the story ends. The characters and their needs, desires, hurts and so on need not be resolved fully – that’s why I often shout at a book or TV series. Same goes for the world/setting. I think you have to focus on the story your book is trying to tell. When that’s done, so are you.
(if only it was that easy… ;-))
If only! But yes, that’s a good reminder, not everything need be settled.