1. Veleda

    Veleda New Member

    Aug 28, 2017
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    Crafting the climax sequence for the 1st in a series?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Veleda, Sep 8, 2017.

    Hi all, I am looking for some sage advice for crafting the finale for the first book (B1) in a fantasy series. Sorry if my description below gets wordy.

    My story is in single 1st POV. My MC is figuring everything out with the reader (or maybe even slower;)). So whatever she knows at the end of B1, we know. Therefore, I am treading a fine line.

    Bear with me if I am cryptic from trying not to give away any spoilers. MC has these flashes to other people in the past, in which she essentially lives in their body and experiences what they experience. They end up being little, seemingly random vignettes that together span around 3000 years (yeah, I know, broooaaad scope, but it's the only way.) Unfortunately, I fear these will leave the reader feeling a little unfulfilled, because I can't tell all of their complete stories in this book. So that alone will be a big dangling thread.

    The story itself is intended to be a series of 4 books, maybe 5 (but that just seems awfully ambitious at this pointo_O). So, there is the microplot of this book. And then the grand overarching plot of the series in which MC will learn about the vignette-characters (and be given some resolution to those tales as we move through the series), plus all sorts of other good world-saving stuff.:D For now, I need to wrap things up enough be satisfing, but not filling, if you know what I mean. Just a snickers for an appetizer in B1, but you can see the main course cooking.

    B1 is a quest story for the most part. MC must find the **** in order to stop the **** before it gets worse and a bunch o' innocents die. Obviously that particular thread will be tied up in a neat little bow, but what of...?
    * Various other questions that have come up thru B1, like an (as yet) unsolved murder from midway thru Act 2. Do I need to tie that thread up or can it dangle into B2?
    * Should I let her figure out what her 'hallucinations' into the past really are? As in the cause of her forays into the past. Or can this, too, stretch into B2?
    * Romance and a few other things will play much more heavily in coming books, so I'm comfortable letting those teasers hang. I just don't know what else beyond that 1 main plot question needs to be resolved now.

    I am the sort of reader that loves series with grand, deeply involved big-picture plots, but I despise cliffhangers, when an author just leaves everything unresolved, essentially coercing you into buying B2 just to answer the major question of B1. Maybe that's just me. :oops: Regardless, I don't want to do that to my readers. I don't know how to provide just enough, but not too much - where to draw the line of mystery vs. answers in a series.

    Any tips or suggestions are greatly appreciated, even if they are not specific to my project. Thanks in advance!
  2. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

    Mar 7, 2013
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    I can't quite follow your plot because of all the hidden elements over 3000 years, and besides it's your story and it's not my place to suggest what specific things you should do to wind up book one.

    However, what I would do if I were you is take a look at other book series that are similar to yours in construction. How do they 'end' each of their volumes? I think you'll probably see that while they can end on cliffhangers, they usually just end at a natural rest spot. If you think of your books as a journey, these rest places should pop out at you. Your main characters have come to a place of safety, or have solved one of their problems but there are more to come, or have rested and are setting off someplace new. In other words, leave your readers happy to walk away for now, but also keen to find out what happens next.

    Think about the end to The Fellowship of the Ring. The Fellowship has made it through Moria, but Gandalf has died there. The other members escape their immediate orc problems by taking Galadriel's boats down the Anduin. They make camp at what looks like a safe spot and take time to rest and recuperate a bit from the loss of Gandalf. While on a solitary walk, Frodo is set upon by Boromir who finally tries to seize the Ring, but Frodo escapes in one of the boats along with Sam and the Ring. The others are all attacked by Saruman's orcs. Boromir is killed and Merry and Pippen are taken prisoner, but Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli drive the orcs away and/or kill them. The book ends with Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli realising that Frodo and Sam have escaped, and the Ring is heading towards Mordor with them, as planned. Aragorn decides that rather than follow Frodo, he and the others will set off to rescue Merry and Pippen instead. And that's where the book ends.

    So some things have been resolved, but there is more to come. It's not exactly a cliffhanger, because at the moment Frodo and Sam are together and in no immediate danger. Pippen and Merry are in danger, but the reader knows that Aragorn and Co are hot on the trail, and being the kind of story it is, the reader assumes that at some point they will be successful in finding the two hobbits. So we can walk away from the story at that point, with plenty to think about, but nothing left dangling in a cliffhangery way. Make it feel like a natural stopping place for a full-length book, not a device the author is using to manipulate the reader.

    What I'd strive for isn't so much 'what should I reveal?' but, instead, be seeking a temporary closure point that will allow your readers to walk away for now. Resolve a few issues (otherwise your reader will begin to worry if this will be a Neverendum) but leave lots more yet to be decided. Any unfinished story should be able to bring readers back, without resorting to cliffhangers, which, I agree, are a cheap way to theoretically hook readers into buying the next book. Don't do that. Instead, give your readers a rest.
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2017
    Veleda likes this.

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