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During ’12 Balticon, I participated in a panelin where the panelists discussed how to effectively write a trilogy. I wish I’d had the frame of mind to ask them how they would proceed to end their sagas, as I find the subject to be a potentially fascinating, yet polarizing topic…at least between the writers and their readers. This is especially true when the story’s ending turns out to be a disappointment.
Imagine being engaged in a story and its characters, a story that spanned numerous books, only to have it conclude with a horrible ending. That after countless hours of reading, you’re rewarded with an ending that discarded or disrespected all that you had come to know of the story. I’m not talking about an unhappy ending, but an incomplete or bizarre one.
One of us recently wrote a post of how distraught she was of Katniss’ actions at the end of The Hunger Games trilogy. I suffered a similar experience with another book series that ended in such a ludicrous manner that it made me ask myself if the series’ existence had a point. This is not how authors should reward their loyal readers.
Examples are not just with written fiction. St. Elsewhere, an eighties sitcom, is notorious for its absurd ending of having the whole show be only the product of an autistic boy. Try imagining that as the ending of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. For a recent example, Bioware, the creator of the videogame series Mass Effect, received so much negative backlash for the ending in Mass Effect 3 that they had to re-script the ending through a DLC (down-loadable-content) patch.
There’s a reason why I’m focusing on a series ending instead of a single novel. It’s one thing for you to be disappointed by a stand-alone novel ending, but when you involve yourself in a series, the hurt is ten times more, because you invest so much time with the story and characters. The flip side of this is that the authors and creators also have invested as much time in their work, if not longer. Their emotions are probably just as charged as the reader is and the authors saw the ending as the only way to end their series. Our dilemma is this: should we as writers and creators follow our creativity and vision to its foregone conclusion or should we instead adhere to our readers’ or fans’ expectations?
As a writer, I feel that my work should follow its own path. But I also believe that if my readers are willing to take the time to read my stories, then I have a responsibility to make sure my ending is complete and respectable. It won’t satisfy everybody, but there’s less of a chance of hearing a huge outcry from the readers.
If any reader or writers want to share their opinions on the subject, please comment below. Thank you for reading.
The Dreamweavers will be well represented at Balticon this weekend! Panels, readings, autograph sessions–you don’t want to miss this! Plus it’s a huge convention with anything a SF/fantasy lover could want. Please stop by and see us!
Here’s where we’ll be:
R-4. Stories We Like to Hear Out Loud
Friday at 4:00 pm in Belmont
Panelists read excerpts from some of the favorite stories they like to have read to them. The audience offer the names of some of their favorites.
Moderator: Alan Zendell
Speakers: Elektra Hammond; Cindy Young-Turner; Roxanne Bland; Norm Sherman
Autographing: J. Sherlock Brown, III, Cindy Young-Turner and Alan Zendell
Friday at 5:00 pm in Maryland Foyer
R-58. Fantasy Title Chain
Friday at 7:00 pm in Salon C
It’s a game! The audience provides the words for a fantasy story or novel’s title, the panelists arrange them in a more or less coherent order. Then each panelist and an audience member who is not an author come up with a descriptive synopsis. The audience votes on the synopsis they like best.
Moderator: Joshua Palmatier/Benjamin Tate
Speakers: Danny Birt; Cindy Young-Turner; Michelle D. Sonnier; Walter H. Hunt
Author Readings: Laura Nicole Spencer, Cindy Young-Turner and Alan Zendell
Saturday at 9:00 am in Pimlico
F-15. A Cthulhu Out of the Hat – Writing Prompts for the Deranged
Saturday at 2:00 pm in Salon B
Panelists and audience write science fiction stories based on the items pulled out of a hat. Panelists will read their stories at the end, audience members will share their resulting stories at noon in the Con Suite.
Moderator: Andrew Fox
Speakers: Larry A. Reclusado; Gabe Fremuth; Cindy Young-Turner; Hildy Silverman; Brandon (Brand) Gamblin
R-53. The line between horror and paranormal fiction, and does it matter?
Sunday at 9:00 am in Garden Room
Are these really two separate sub-genres or is that just nit-picking?
Moderator: Christiana M. Ellis
Speakers: T. C. McCarthy; David Wood; Paul Elard Cooley; Alan Zendell
NM-48 Serialized Science Fiction: the New Pulps?
Monday, 11:00 AM, Derby
The recent announcement by HiLobrow (www.hilobrow.com) that they would be serializing
classic “radium age” novels on their website is perhaps the most high-profile example of an
emerging trend in online publishing — serialized science fiction. Is the serial the ideal form for
sub-novel length science fiction in the age of smartphones?
Moderator: Phil Kahn
Panelists: Andrew Eckhart, Brand Gamblin, P. G. Holyfield, Paul D. Lagasse, Gary L. Lester, D. C. Wilson, Alan Zendell
C-11. The Budget Friendly Costume
Monday at 11:00 am in Salon D
Making the perfect costume does not necessarily mean breaking the bank. Our panelists share tips and techniques for keeping expenses down while producing a terrific costume.
Moderator: Laura Kovalcin
Speakers: Gwyn F. Fireman; Amy Kaplan
Making the first cut in the Amazon Create Space Breakthrough Novel contest (http://g-ecx.images-amazon.com/images/G/01/Createspace/ABNA/ABNAGeneralFiction_SecondRound_2012._V137887056_.pdf) with The Portal has improved my outlook somewhat. Logically I know that one in a thousand is a lot better than one in five-thousand, but emotionally it still seems like a big mountain to climb. The next milestone is March 20th, when they publish the list of 500 quarter finalists. One in five-hundred still feels like a long shot, but if I get there I’ll be quite pleased.
The other milestone is the 2011 Compton-Crook competition. The winners won’t be announced until Balticon on Memorial Day weekend, but by mid-March I ought to be able to get a reading on how well Wednesday’s Child is doing in the preliminary scoring.
I’m not ready to be heavily invested in either, but it’s exciting to contemplate.