Where does the end of the story lie? At what point do you wrap things up and put the pen down?
This is a question that plagues many fiction authors.
Most books, plays, movies, etc, are based off the old model – three acts, the beginning, the middle, and the end. The beginning sets up the action of the story – basically catapults the protagonist into the action, the middle runs the action through to its completion, and the end – being very short so as not to antagonize its audience – draws the whole story to a close.
Now, the model is a good one – and yet – more and more authors seem to be digressing from it.
I am not sure if this is a good or a bad thing.
For me, no matter what story I am writing/reading, I need those three parts. There is nothing worse than a beginning that never sets you up for the action; or worse still, a story starting so much within the action part there was no beginning to begin with.
But the absolute worse part? No ending. Instead, the reader is left unsatisfied, unknowing of what will happen to the protagonist, et al. Interestingly enough, I think some authors use the idea that they want to hook the reader to a series to not bring things to a satisfactory ending. There is something to be said for leaving things at a stand still… After all, when the original Star Wars series came out – who wasn’t waiting on pins and needles to find out what would happen to Han Solo after the Empire Strikes Back?
And yet… that can become more than old. I just recently read a series which was supposed to be four books. Then it became six books and now she is going to continue. I can’t blame her. She has quite the audience hooked in. And yet… I get the feeling it will never end. As much as I love certain things, I NEED an ending – even if a temporary one. And yet, each of her stories leaves you with even more and more items left unmended.
Don’t get me wrong, I was sad when the last Harry Potter book came out and was bummed when the last Twilight book was released (until I read it and decided never to re-read the thing), but even so, I was glad the author did not try to continue after the HEA.
I think that is the problem. As readers and writers, we still want to know what is going on with our favorite characters, and yet – I think it is best sometimes to let them be. If Rowling had continued HP, she would have had to create a new enemy even worse than Lord Voldemort. Suddenly, Harry’s bright future would be plunged into hate, anger and war. As readers, there is a pleasant thing knowing that after the hell he went through that now he has an HEA.
Same with Twilight. If Meyer had continued the series, no doubt she would have had to create more war between the Cullens and the Volturi, or maybe even create a worse enemy they might have had to join forces for. Can you imagine something worse than Aro? At that point, one would begin to wonder if A: being immortal was really worth it and B: I would have been on Rosalie’s side to find a way to go back in time and kill Bella Swan as she was the one that brought them all these problems – And I don’t even like Rosalie.
Either way, the continuation of either series would have damaged them in a way.
Now, think of the series that are out. Sci-fi is one of the worst of the lot. They can go on for hundreds of books. Now, the best written multi-book sci-fi series can do that, but if you read enough of them you can tell when the series has been handed over to a ghost-writer and the original author either doesn’t have a thing to do with them anymore, OR they got tired of writing them and changed the entire premise of the storyline to begin with. It can become quite disheartening to a reader who loves such a series.
The same thing happens on TV. If a series is doing exceptionally well, they never take it off when it is on top. Instead, they wait until the series has lost most of its audience and then let it die. How sad. Case in point? Frasier. It was great the first few seasons, but somewhere around season 6 or 7, it lost what made it fantastic… and yet they dragged it out for several more seasons.
And yet, I digress.
The thing is – where do you end a story? Well, it is up to each author to end it where it should end. And for each author that is a different place. For me? It is when the plotline has been completed and to continue would be folly.
Which is why The Blake/Dusty Chronicles will end with number 10. To continue beyond would be to go past the ending and see what lay beyond. And unless a completely new series were to come to mind with the two of them, I would not go there. These boys deserve their HEA.