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.