Fellow Writers: What is an appropriate ending to a book in a series?

For the past 4 years I've been working on a novel series. I've recently come to the conclusion that I need to rethink a lot of my central plot line, since I had planned to end a few of the books in the series with cliffhangers and open endings that never really answered any of the readers' questions about what was going on with the characters.

So my question is, what is an appropriate ending to a book in a series? I know each book needs to be able to stand alone, but when I end one book, how much of the plot much be concluded and NOT carried on into the next book? I'm a little confused. Is it appropriate to end a book without all of the major questions being answered, if they are answered later in the series? What are you opinions and experiences?

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  • 9 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    An appropriate ending? Well, because you are ending the series, why not kill off your main character in one of the final chapters? No more stories = no more Main Character.

    Usually, (though I haven't finished a series in ages) I do something to the Main character. Whether it is death, or he is going away, fancy disappearing from the face of the earth (but doesn't die.) It's always the best way to do it.

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  • An ending that satisfies the novel's problem but not the series' problem.

    All series have a major conflict that needs to be resolved. This conflict is dispersed and stretched throughout the ensemble of books. However, in each book, there is usually a minor conflict that is directly or indirectly related to the major conflict or the characters involved in the major conflict.

    For example - Harry Potter. The main problem is to defeat Voldemort. In Philosopher's Stone, the minor problem is the possibility of Professor Quirrell's acquisition of the Stone. The book ends with Harry preventing Quirrell from getting his hands on it, but Voldemort gets away, and Harry will continue to face challenges revolving Voldemort in the future.

    So it sets the stage for potential stories, but it cleanly resolves what the matter at hand was - saving the Stone.

    It's alright if none of the major questions should be answered completely in the first book. In fact, that's usually the case. If we go back to Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, at the end of the book, Dumbledore tells Harry that Voldemort couldn't touch Harry because his mother died to save him. What he doesn't tell Harry about the extent and circumstances of the protection of his mother's love is learned in the fourth and fifth books. A key point in the entire HP series' plot, Horcruxes, aren't even explained until the sixth book! But they're introduced in the second book, Chamber of Secrets. It just takes planning to write a series - you want to be able to foreshadow so that the reader doesn't feel as though everything is just one thing after another. The reader should get the feeling that something far, far bigger is at the back of everything, that everything is connected.

    Good luck with your series, and

    all the best with your writing! (:

  • Anonymous
    9 years ago

    I think you are talking about books MID-series. Those books must have some goal achieved (say the ultimate goal is to kill five beasts, one must be killed), but there should also be a reversal, or something that happens to drastically change the MC's situation (say they get locked up by a group of elves who they aggravated). These satisfy the reader, yet also keep them wanting more. For a final book, get the goal done, but something tragic MAY (not necessary, but you can) happen (say the MC valiantly dies off, since the goal is achieved and the MC's death is in glory, I would be satisfied). Or something more minor, like someone helping the MC dies (valiantly--inglorious deaths of characters we like really annoy us readers). Hope I gave a satisfying answer :)

  • ?
    Lv 5
    9 years ago

    I love it when book ends in a cliffhanger and I don't think there is anything wrong with that. I think it keeps the reader captivated and also wanting to read the next book so they can find out what happened.

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