Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Wednesday's Writer's Tips - Series and Book Endings #MFRWauthor


Since a series contains a number of books that have a connection in characters, settings and even themes. Looking at how to end each book in the series calls for some thought. According to Karen Wiesner in Writing the Fiction Series, the endings are either cliff-hangers or stand alone books.

A cliff hanger leaves the reader with a problem. When is the next book due so I can find out how the story ends. Done well and the reader will wait months or even years for the next book in the series. As a reader, I have read and enjoyed cliff-hanger series but I'm a re-reader so when the new book arrives, I always go back and read the other stories before I read the current new one. Unless I discover the series all in a lump of stories.

A stand alone book in a series means the story comes to a satisfying ending. That doesn't mean there aren't little clues planted for the story that will come next. Sometimes there are no hints. These stories are often based on characters or settings. Detective stories where the character solves crimes are usually stand alone because the writer may or may not know what story will be up next in the series. Or stories based on a location where the writer may not know which story will be next in the series.

Choosing how to end each story is the writer's choice but there's one bit of advice that I've learned. If you've written a cliff-hanger kind of story, don't wait too long before writing the next. If you do, readers can be lost.

5 comments:

JoanCurtis said...

Good observations about how to end the book. I recently read a Martha Grimes mystery titled Dust (and I usually love her books) . It had a terrible ending. I'm not sure who the perpetrator was and someone was badly injured and we don't know if she lived or died. That's no way to end a book!

Meantime, I'm writing a series. I tend to end the book with a clear ending. Everything about the mystery is wrapped up. But, the lives of the characters are ongoing. A love interest, for example, might just be starting to blossom.

Thanks again for a good post!

Janet Walters said...

I've done the same thing about the love interest in a series that ended in a wedding in book 5 of the series. Only in my YA series did I have cliff-hanger endings. For some reason they worked there.

Janice Seagraves said...

I've written a few books that have an ending that I thought satisfied until the readers told me other wise.

Well, that's what the next book is for.

Janet Walters said...


Often readers are too impatient to see the next book.

M. K. Wiseman said...

I am still waiting for Susanna Clarke to tell us what happened after "Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell" ended! Good but terrible to keep us waiting . . .