On the Importance of Nailing the Landing

I’ve recently read a number of free or bargain-priced Kindle books that should have been right up my alley: They featured heaping spoonfuls of magic, mythological creatures, compelling world-building, mystery, and rip-roaring adventure. But they all had the same problem. They were all the first volume of a multi-book series, and it showed.

To be honest, I like series, and some of my favorite fantasy authors do them exceptionally well (I’m looking at you, Rick Riordan, Benedict Jacka, and Jim Butcher). If the characters are interesting and draw me into their world, I’ll be all over that stuff. But I still want each book of the series to have its own proper conclusion. I want a clear sense of development, that the protagonist has not only left Point A, but that he or she has arrived conclusively at Point B.

I wrote Children of Pride (Into the Wonder, book 1) as a standalone novel. I had an idea of where sequels might go, but I wanted the story to hold together on its own, and my sense is that it does. The Devil’s Due (book 2) has a pretty strong sequel hook. You know more adventures are coming, but the story itself still has a fitting conclusion. The same is true for Oak, Ash, and Thorn (book 3). The River of Night (book 4) is still in production. I think readers will like the conclusion, but the less I say about that right now, the better! 😉

So, I want good stories that stand on their own two feet, but I’m still a big fan of sequel hooks. If you want to throw me hints about a bigger, more dangerous world looming on the horizon, knock yourself out. I can even deal with a well-written cliffhanger. (I prefer not at the end of book 1; your mileage may vary.)

To be bluntly to the point, if I don’t know that you can bring your novel to a fitting conclusion, how can I trust you to do it with a series? Please end your novel and don’t just stop when you’ve reached the desired word-count. Give me a sense of resolution, a sense that the protagonist has achieved the goal he or she set out to achieve, and experienced a little character development along the way.

Do that well, and I’ll gladly read book 2. I promise.

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