I’ve taken a brief break from writing my novel as I’ve had a major freelance job come in, which means completing about a month’s worth of work in 9 days. I’m happy to be working, but also kind of questioning why I do this to myself.
I did see this post on another author’s blog about series books which are devoid of an exciting plot, devoting the entire first book in the series to the rising action with no real climax or a satisfying conclusion for the reader. It’s incredibly common especially for fantasy writers to write trilogies or series, myself included, but when publishing a book, I think we should learn the correct way to write them.
Tolkien started the trend of fantasy trilogies with The Lord of the Rings, but ironically this was actually unintentional. His book was published in three parts due to post-war paper shortages, which is why the end of The Fellowship of the Ring especially just sort of ends unexpectedly and picks up again in The Two Towers as if there wasn’t a break. The film adaptation handled it much better, by moving Boromir’s death to the end of Fellowship, providing a conclusion to his story arc, and ending one part of the story to begin another.
This is why all film trilogies are structured so that they can be watched and enjoyed as separate movies, rather than a single story told in three parts. If the credits started rolling after a random scene simply because it’s a third of the way through the story, you’d feel pretty cheated and wouldn’t be back to watch parts two and three.
Books should work in the same way. I initially planned my novel as a single story but had so many ideas that it will now be three. But I’m keeping the basic structure of the first book, with only a few unanswered questions and unresolved sub-plots, and even then only very minor ones, so that readers can still enjoy it as a coherent story and decide for themselves if they want to read the next book. While I am planning a plot twist for the end of book two, I still plan on wrapping up the story and main plot of that book and I hope that readers who have reached that point will be invested enough that the ending won’t bother them.
While I do wish there were more one-off fantasy books, I do still enjoy a good series, but only if it is written and structured correctly.