Author Topic: Ending a trilogy  (Read 2715 times)

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Offline Megan

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Ending a trilogy
« on: December 11, 2011, 08:53 AM »
I've just started really getting down to work on the last book in my trilogy (I know all the important things that happen but need to outline thoroughly and work out some character stuff and of course write the thing), and I'm feeling pretty nervous about it.  Because I've never written a trilogy before, and I think the end is the most important part, and because my sense of the story has been thrown a bit because it was originally just supposed to be two books, but the sequel turned out to be so much story I had to split it in two.

I'm sure I'll get it sorted out, but I thought it'd be useful to hear what people who've been there have to say.  If you've written a trilogy, or a series with a clear end, is there anything you can share that helped you approach the final book?  Tips, ways of looking at things, questions to ponder, whatever?

All thoughts are very much appreciated!
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Offline Jenny Moss

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Re: Ending a trilogy
« Reply #1 on: December 11, 2011, 01:11 PM »
(I have no advice, but I just want you to finish it, so I can read it. THE WAY WE FALL - so excellent.)
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Offline Hélène Boudreau

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Re: Ending a trilogy
« Reply #2 on: December 11, 2011, 01:42 PM »
I have no advice but I am in the same situation so :popcorn I shall await and try to absorb the wise words of those in the 'know'.
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Offline Joni

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Re: Ending a trilogy
« Reply #3 on: December 11, 2011, 07:52 PM »
My only scrap of wisdom would be that I've heard a lot of readers say they hate epilogues (at least, those that are very firm about where characters "end up" too far into the future) because they want to be able to imagine the characters going for more adventures, and epilogues too often close too many doors. [And I think the Hunger Games ending is an example. I understand why it's there, because she was considering young readers, who wanted/needed to feel like poor Katnis got some happily ever after of SOME kind, but it didn't really work for me on several levels, and I don't even mind epilogues. I wonder how anyone else felt.]

So I would avoid making the ending TOO absolute/far-seeing/"and nothing interesting ever happened again." For my third, The Skeleton's Knife, I actually planted a hint for what a continuing adventure might likely be, even though I have absolutely no intention of writing it -- because it relates to the thematic point of that third book, which is that my MC is looking to the future and continuing adventures.

I do think it's important for the characters to get to a comfortable/clear emotional point at the end -- where the reader knows they'll be okay, no matter what. (Which was sorta Katniss's problem -- she really WASN'T going to be okay, it's a big stretch to believe the "mostly happy family with Peeta" thing, and personally I think Suzanne Collins should have let the series be the tragedy it really wanted to be. But that might have been a tough sell in the kidlit world.) I think tying up technical/plot loose ends are less important than that emotional resting point and the thematic conclusion that we reach as a result.
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Offline Megan

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Re: Ending a trilogy
« Reply #4 on: December 12, 2011, 06:42 AM »
Thanks for your advice, Joni!  The ending of the book is actually the part I'm most confident about--I know what happens, and I'm definitely not wrapping things up too much, though I think it will be satisfying.

(And I agree with you re: MOCKINGJAY's epilogue, completely.)

I think I'm mostly worried about the book overall, getting to that ending.  How to make it not just feel like a retread of the previous books--to make sure it's new and fresh enough that readers will stay excited about the story from beginning to end. 
GIVE UP THE GHOST, Holt, 2009
Fallen World trilogy, Hyperion, 2012-14
Earth & Sky trilogy, Skyscape/Penguin Canada, 2014-15
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Offline KeithM

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Re: Ending a trilogy
« Reply #5 on: December 12, 2011, 03:49 PM »
I don't have the right amount of experience having just finished up a sequel only, but when I read your last comment what came to mind is maybe just one more new character is what you're looking for, I think that makes it fun in the writing--a new spirit that you get to explore who's really dear to you, a kind of favorite character who only appears in the third book, even if only for a short time. Someone you'd write a whole book about if you had a chance but just has a cameo. Or maybe some new narrative technique, nothing too far from the mood. Well, anyway, just throwing things out there. It sounds like you're maybe looking for some way to surprise yourself? Which is hard if actually the story's all worked out since you were writing it all as one book and so must have everything already planned. But maybe the point is that by breaking it into two books, you now have room for one extra subplot and a new character or two. Maybe there's something you can pick up from the first book long ago? Probably it's a big hassle to try to add a new element now! Undoubtedly, it'll come, ideas always do just at the last minute :).
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Offline Amanda Coppedge

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Re: Ending a trilogy
« Reply #6 on: December 13, 2011, 03:43 AM »
I'm thinking the role of the new character you intro'd near the end of book 2 will make book 3 feel a lot different than book 1 and 2?  While book 2 is a lot different than book 1, both of them are about a lot of taking away, losing people and things/comfortable or homey situations. At the end of book 2, there have been a couple of small gains. But there is a potential for trickery there too I think. All that loss could make your characters jaded, numb, damaged, more vulnerable to "attack" from other angles. I think book 3 is well set up to be very different from 1 and 2.
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Offline Debby G

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Re: Ending a trilogy
« Reply #7 on: December 13, 2011, 08:47 AM »
I don't know it this helps, but...

I gave my readers and characters a happy ending for most of the characters in my THE BAND trilogy, but tried not to make it schmaltzy or an ending of permanence. For instance, Tracie, who'd had a horrible boyfriend in the first two books, learned to like being on her own in the third book and tentatively agreed to go out with a nice guy at the end of that book. She didn't marry him or anything schmaltzy or permanent like that, but she was in a better place internally and had a potential nice boyfriend.

Another character kissed a guy at the end of book one, became his girlfriend in book two, overcame parental opposition (they were an interracial couple) in book three, and deflowered him at the end of book three. I kind of glossed over the sex scene at the end of book three, but my editor gave me what I think is very good advice: Anything you've built up over the course of the trilogy has to have a big payoff to the reader at the end. So I wrote a long, romantic scene of the couple having sex for the first time. It was fun and, I think, earned.

Good luck!
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Offline Debby G

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Re: Ending a trilogy
« Reply #8 on: December 13, 2011, 08:53 AM »
One more thing: In book three, I introduced a couple of new characters. They weren't major charactes, but they impacted the three main characters' lives. I also had the band take a road trip to perform in a different city. I think the new characters and setting helped add freshness to book three.
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