1. badgerjelly

    badgerjelly Contributor Contributor

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    The Ending

    Discussion in 'Novels' started by badgerjelly, Sep 26, 2019.

    How important is the ending of a novel to you? Do you prefer to have an ending neatly tied up or left open to interpretation?

    I am thinking about this in terms of series of novels (or related novels). I’ve read a few series that disappointed me with there obvious ‘cliff-hanger’ endings that purposefully led to the next book. I found this to be quite insulting to the reader. Other series of books have had the opposite effect being able to stand almost completely alone from each other.

    For me a story needs a climax rather than a hint of a future climax in some far off novel. That said I do like a longer narrative it is just that I have seen too many half-arsed endings that seem to be spliced in merely to aide the writing of the next novel - it makes the book feel incomplete (because it is essentially an incomplete work being passed off as a self-contained piece of writing.

    How do you deal with this in your writing? Have you ever found yourself tempted to draw out the obvious premise into the next novel of the series?
     
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  2. Cephus

    Cephus Contributor Contributor

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    The ending should be the end of the story, but not necessarily the end of the world.
     
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  3. The Bishop

    The Bishop Senior Member

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    I like endings that leave the reader thinking. Ones that are totally resolved right then are sort of boring. The endings that leave you thinking even after it's over are those you remember. And cliff-hangers suck.
     
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  4. LazyBear

    LazyBear Banned

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    I try not to think about the ending so that I can focus on the journey. It comes naturally when there's nothing more to tell. Usually a dramatic discovery to wrap up the last mystery. I leave ethical dilemmas up to the reader thou.
     
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  5. ciinddyyy

    ciinddyyy New Member

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    I like a healthy balance. I am not a huge fan of novels that have the ending completely laid out to the reader, leaving nothing to the imagination. But on the other end, I am also not a giant fan of novels that end on complete cliff hangers, leaving my mind race about every possible ending.
     
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  6. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll It's Coffee O'clock everywhere. Contributor

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    :superidea:
    [​IMG]

    In a way it is pretty important, as it is the last thing that the reader gets, and first thing that
    they will remember.
     
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  7. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    I definitely think it's cheating if an author doesn't make it clear that a book is first in a series, before readers actually buy the book.

    That being said, I also think it's a good idea for many of the minor issues brought up in the book to be resolved, before the To Be Continued thing pops up.

    A good beginning sells the book, as many how-to-write authors have pointed out. A good ending sells the next one. Probably best not to leave your readers unhappy, or feeling as if they've been conned.
     
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  8. badgerjelly

    badgerjelly Contributor Contributor

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    Each novel should be able to stand on its own two feet - series or otherwise. A couple of authors put me off even though I knew I was reading a series of books. It’s a terrible thing to get to the end of a novel without any serious resolution. The same thing goes for movies - the successful series have movies that stand on their own and have a complete and compelling story in and of themselves regardless of the overarching scope.
     
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  9. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    I think there's a lot of difference between picking up and reading a book that's part of a completed 'to be continued' series, and picking up one that's part of a series still being written. If it's an already finished series, you can go ahead and get the next volume if you liked the first one ...knowing you won't be left dangling forever.

    When I first read LOTR, I already had all three volumes with me, so when one ended I just moved to the next. It was like a single novel in three bits, simply for ease of handling (which is the way Tolkien published it, I believe. He didn't make people wait for a year or two between volumes.)

    However, Game of Thrones (Song of Ice and Fire) STILL isn't finished as a book series. I would be reluctant to start reading another series that's still in an unfinished state, unless it's from an author (like Joe Abercrombie or Phillip Pullman) who I trust will finish the series in good time. Too frustrating.
     
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  10. JLT

    JLT Contributor Contributor

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    My two cents:

    The story should be complete, although it doesn't have to end. I think the reader needs to think that some sort of destination has been reached. That leaves the writer open to continuing the journey to the next destination, if the reader wants to go along.

    I agree with jannert that LotR was always intended to be a single work, with the three books being publishing conveniences. Even there, though, the division was made at the crest of the story points ... the dissolution of the Fellowship at the end of the first book, and the capture of Frodo in the second. That gave the books the flavor of a serial.

    And I don't think that the author needs to flag a book as a story "to be continued," unless the reading of subsequent installments is essential to the understanding of the first ones.
     
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  11. Tralala

    Tralala Active Member

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    Yes, I'm actively put off by books that are visualised as a series.

    I overcome it, of course. I love Jeff Vandermeer's Southern Reach trilogy.

    My tastes tend towards literary fiction, and very few are extended into series. It's more likely that the author will write something similar, rather than a sequel.
     
  12. Stormsong07

    Stormsong07 Contributor Contributor

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    I intend for my current WIP to be a trilogy. That being said, I ALSO intend to wrap up all the pertinent plot bits to Book 1's story...in Book 1, while still leaving the over-arching story incomplete to keep readers reading. So, without giving away too much of my plot, I will try to explain further.
    MC's immediate plot - her growth as a person, her main antagonist, her challenges- will all be resolved.
    The war her country is involved in will NOT be completely wrapped up- but there is a (hopefully) satisfying final battle that will provide a temporary win for the good guys, and a decent place to pause the story of the war.
    The Big Baddie- the one directing the Main Antagonist of Book 1 to do all his nefarious deeds- will NOT be revealed yet. However, the Main Antagonist will meet his downfall at the end of Book 1.
    Several pertinent questions involving MC's heritage and family that have swirled around her for the entire Book 1 will be answered. (Who is her REAL daddy?) However, her deceased mother's past will still have some mystery that needs to be investigated in a later book.

    So that's how I'm handling the ending. Resolving all the main issues, while still leaving some of the bigger plot points unknown to keep reader's interest. I too, despise novels that were clearly written as one work, yet divided into shorter pieces as a money-grabbing gimmick. I believe that is not fair to readers, and that at least all the major points should be resolved. Like Harry Potter- those novels are clearly each an individual story, with a beginning, middle, and end, yet the overarching plot (Voldemort's 2nd rise to power) continues through the whole series. That's the kind of thing I'm striving to do.
     

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