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Last Week’s WW: Getting in Their Heads

I’ve been reading a few different series of books lately.  I’m new to the multiple-books-in-the-same-universe phenomenon.  These days, it seems like every book is just one in a series.   Sometimes that’s a very good thing.  Sometimes, not so much.   There are a few rules that I’ve compiled for writing a series.

A book only needs to be as long as it needs to be.

Is your story huge?  Is your universe complete and complicated?  Cool.  Maybe you’re book should be a series.  Is your story simpler?  Could it be told in one book?  In less then one book?  Then, please, don’t try to draw it out.  Let your story be itself, little or big.

An unfinished story isn’t the same thing as a cliffhanger! 

Here’s what’s been getting to me.  I’ve been reading books lately that are confused.  They seem to think that an unfinished book is the same thing as a cliff hanger.

Cliffhangers are great.  They entice the reader into wanting more.  Whether that’s another story, to read another chapter, to write their own fan fiction… whatever.  They leave you with questions.  Cliffhangers are great motivators.

Cliffhangers, however, don’t cut off mid-scene.  They show you the hero headed off into battle, then there’s a big explosion with no explanation, and that’s where the book ends.  That’s not a cliffhanger, that’s an insult.  Don’t sell me a book and tell me that it’s a complete work of fiction to have it just end abruptly, with nothing resolved.

Every book has to be it’s own story

Beginning, middle, and yes, end.   It has to have a resolution.  If you want to have a big through line, some sort of arch that stretches many books, great.  But some part of the story has to resolve by the end of each and every book.  Each has to be complete with climaxes and themes of their very own.   Doesn’t matter if it’s stand alone or part of a series.  If you want to call it a book, it has to have all the elements of a book.


I’m disappointed with reading books that just end in the middle of the climax.  It’s just wrong.   It’s a tease, and it’s unsatisfying.   So, keep these things in mind if you ever write a series.