taken

Everyone would much rather have another book from you, as an author, than more Tumblr posts.
— 

Erin Bowman, author of the TAKEN trilogy—the final book, FORGED, is out now!—and the forthcoming VENGEANCE ROAD, wants you - Yes, YOU - to get off the Internet and write more books!

Listen to her full interview here, or download it on iTunes or Stitcher.

Erin Bowman: Recipe for a Great Series Ending

Erin Bowman, author of the Taken trilogy, shares her recipe for ending a series:

Now that I’ve finished Gray’s story, I’ve been thinking a lot about endings. Specifically, how hard they are to get right. I spent two books expanding Gray’s world and adding new plot threads, and suddenly it was time to wrap everything up. I wanted to do it justice. I wanted readers to be satisfied.

When I think about unsatisfying series endings, I always circle back to LOST. I loved that show, I really did, but after six seasons, the finale was…underwhelming? The writers gave us this fascinating world with multiple timelines and scientific experiments and themes of science versus faith, but after the credits rolled, tons of viewers were still unclear as to what the heck actually happened. Were they dead the whole time? Was the island purgatory? Which timelines were/were not real?

There are lots of thoughts/theories floating around in regards the above questions, but the problem remains: if the majority of people devouring a story are left drowning in questions once the curtain falls, something went wrong with the ending.

So what ingredients are necessary for a satisfying series conclusion? I think it comes down to three things:

1) The main conflict is resolved. The inciting incident—whatever disrupted the protagonist’s ‘normal’—is addressed, and a new ‘normal’ is reached. The conclusion can hint at new action, but it should in no way feel like a cliffhanger.

2) Character arcs are complete. Regardless of if the villain is man, nature, self, etc., the main character likely needs to undergo some sort of transformation to emerge victorious. Who is the person they need to become? Do they get there?

3) Threads from subplots are mostly tied up. The substantial threads—the ones that have readers asking questions—need to be resolved. But I say ‘mostly’ because tying up everything would result in a dense and sluggish book. And besides, I’ve always loved a story where a couple teeny threads remain open by the final page. Those unknowns allow me to imagine what’s next for the characters, and in this way, they live on forever.

Which reminds me of Chuck the Prophet from TV’s Supernatural, who wisely says, “No doubt, endings are hard. But then again… nothing ever really ends, does it?”

Some of my favorite series endings include Harry Potter (Rowling), Legend (Lu), Something Strange and Deadly (Dennard), Blood Red Road (Young), and in TV-land, Fringe and Scrubs.

Tell me, what are your favorite series endings?