1. wallomrslug
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    wallomrslug Member

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    Open Ended Novel

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by wallomrslug, Jun 3, 2011.

    Hi There
    I'm new to the site and just wanted people's ideas on something, if that's okay.
    I recently completed a first draft of a fantasy novel and, while I know there is a very long editing path to travel, I do hope to apply for an agent with the intention of having my work submitted for publication.

    As I wrote however, I found that my novel naturally ended but left a few questions and not a definite ending, as if leaving a definite possibility for a sequel.
    Do people know from knowledge or experience whether such an ending might hinder my success at finding an agent?
     
  2. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    It largely depends on what you mean by open-ended.

    Neither an agent or a publisher are likely to take on a series from an unpublished author, so your story needs to be able to stand alone as a story in its own right. This means that you can't legitimately end your novel with the story half-incomplete. Leaving the potential for another story to follow, however, on should be fine.

    It's the difference between whether your story needs the sequel to make sense, or whether (if necessary) it could be read quite happily as a single novel.
     
  3. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    To follow up on what Banzai said, lots of novels end with the future unknown and undescribed, but the central conflicts have been resolved. A good example of this is Allan Drury's Advise and Consent, which ended with all of the major conflicts that had been raised in the book, most notably the Leffingwell nomination, resolved and the President flying off to meet the Soviets in a summit to resolve new threats that had been raised, and which had served to unite the previously contentious factions in the book. If Drury had never written another word, he would still have had a complete Pulitzer Prize winner. But that ending served as the beginning of his next book, A Shade of Difference, which focused on the United Nations instead of the US Senate, and several books after that. Each one was a self-contained story, with a central conflict that was resolved by the time the book ended.
     
  4. wallomrslug
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    wallomrslug Member

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    Many thanks for your replies.
    The main conflicts are resolved but, towards the ending, a new plot thread is created which would serve as the beginning to a sequel. I may consider removing that, or perhaps adding it into an epilogue.
    There are one or two questions which don't remain fully answered either but it doesn't leave the major plot unsolved.

    Thanks again for your thoughts
     
  5. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    I'd consider removing it and not adding it as an epilogue. And I wouldn't pitch your novel as a series, but if you do find an agent you can talk about such things (and should). At that point, after the agent has already taken on the work or after an initial printing finds success, then is when talk of a series comes into play (and an epilogue or other preview can be added into later printings if the book is popular). Before that, though, it usually just comes off as presumptuous.

    Also keep in mind if you and your agent decide a series is the right way to go, you'll need followup books quick. It's tricky, because you don't want to spend time writing a series when it's nowhere near guaranteed you'll have that opportunity, but at the same time if you do end up going with a series, you'll need the books quick and can't wait around for years trying to finish (or rushing something out prematurely). Catch-22, of sorts
     
  6. Bright Shadow
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    Bright Shadow Member

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    While I agree that a stand alone would better, sometimes having a series can help someone get published. A good example would be The Dresden Files. The final push that got Jim Butcher taken by an agent was the fact that he had three Dresden novels written and ready to go.
     
  7. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    It might happen, but only very occasionally. Most times it would tip the agent the other way. It makes a novel much harder to sell, because if a publisher has signed an author for a series, and the first novel flops, then they've lost out more than if it was just a standalone.

    There are always going to be exceptions to general rules, but just because one or two people did it doesn't mean it at all helps your chances. Trust me, it doesn't.
     

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