Hello! For my novel, I’m planning on leaving things on a cliffhanger (to be followed by a second, and maybe a third book). Can I do that and still have a resolution? For example, certain subplots are resolved and the main conflict is resolved as well, but only for some of my cast- how can I use the ending portion of my book to tie up loose ends but also introduce new issues without messing up my structure/negating the resolutions effects? Thank you!
That’s actually a good way to do it. Each book in a series should have its own plot and subplot that ties into a bigger plot that spans the series. Ultimately, your goal is to tie up that individual plot and most if not all of the subplots, while introducing things that will lead into the next book.
To use The Hunger Games as an example, the plot for book one was that first Hunger Games event. That was tied up by the end of the book, as were some of the subplots that went along with it. However, some of Katniss’s actions during the event create the discord that paves the way into the next book. So, although the events of the book are tied up and the book stands alone, plot elements for the next book have already been introduced.
The cliffhanger, if you do one, should relate to the plot of the next book, and should not be an unresolved element of the current book. So, for example, let’s say book one is about a dragon terrorizing a village. A young woman from the village fights the dragon and, in the end, she kills it. She goes back to her village and they cheer and celebrate. Everything is nice and tied up. Except, on the outskirts of the celebration, deep in the shadows, a village elder approaches a wealthy noble, and we find out they unleashed the dragon to distract the villagers from what’s really going on… The End. There’s your cliffhanger. Rather than being an unresolved thread, it’s a whole new thread that relates to the current story but leads into a new one. :)