Thursday, May 6, 2010

To Be Continued! Or Maybe Not.

How does one decide how to split up a story into parts if the book is too long and the story is continuing into another book? Is it OK to end a book with a cliffhanger, or should you always come to some kind of resolution?
It is OK to end a book on a cliffhanger. You should just be aware that if buying your book requires buying two or more books, the publisher is going to weigh their enthusiasm against the higher investment required.

If you're starting a series, consider whether you're writing the type of book that often becomes a series. Genre fiction often carries series. Quiet, literary novels... not so much.


Ebony McKenna. said...

I had this exact situation - I wrote my novel to have a complete ending while also having the potential for further adventures. The sequel is the same - it's all resolved, but, should the publisher want a trequel and (oh please publishing gods smile on me) some historiquel prequels, the potential is there too.

What you want to do is create an ending that is completely satisfying while also leaving scope for more. :-)

Stephen Kozeniewski said...

A book should be complete unto itself, so if you start with a murder, you shouldn't end the book on the cliffhanger, "And the murderer is..." SCENE! But if you're planning a sequel, you should introduce a few new threads towards the end, solve the central conceit of the book, then introduce the cliffhanger that sets up the next book. "And the murderer is John." Then a bomb goes off in the barn. The End. BAM! That's a bestseller right there.

Sarah Miller said...

Be aware: some readers will hate you for a cliffhanger. I'm one of them. (For example, I felt cheated by the end of Catching Fire and therefore have no intention of reading the third installment.)

I also think cliffhangers are particularly unfair in early chapter books. At a level when reading is still hard work for a lot of kids, IMO they deserve some resolution upon reaching the end of a book.

Mark Herr said...

To me it would seem kind of like writing the season finale for a show you’re not sure will be renewed. You want to leave your readers with a sense of wanting to know what happens next and wanting to see more but with the ability of it to stand as a satisfying ending if need-be. If Part Two never comes, you don’t want your readers holding it against you.

Anonymous said...

One of my favorite authors, Robin McKinley, has a book coming out this fall and has admitted that the story wouldn't fit into one book. She's busy typing the second part that is to be released at a later date.

Of course this is Robin McKinley and she is a Newberry winner.


Editorial Anonymous said...

I just read Robin McKinley's new book, and I'm certain it WOULD have fit in one book.

I don't know what her editor was up to, but I can't remember the last time I saw so much unnecessary description. I love McKinley's work, so it made me cry to find her pacing so dull. I really think nearly a half of that book should have been cut.

Liz Heinecke said...

This was an interesting post and the comments are helpful. The story I'm writing is not a quiet, literary novel, or overly descriptive, so I think splitting it up, while wrapping up part of the story in the first book will work well for me.

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