SDCC 2014: End of a Series… Or Not?

Megan Miller ’17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

Moderated by Maryelizabeth Hart (Mysterious Galaxy), the book-related panel “End of Series…Or Not?” discussed keeping readers hooked through serialized fiction. The authors on the panel were Lynn Flewelling (Shards of Time/Nightrunner Series), Lev Grossman (The Magician’s Land/The Magicians Trilogy), Laini Taylor (Dreams of Gods & Monsters/Daughter of Smoke & Bone Trilogy), Jonathan Maberry (Fire & Ash/Rot and Ruit Series), Ben H. Winters (World of Trouble/The Last Policeman Trilogy), Kresley Cole (Dark Skye/Immortals After Dark Series), and Leigh Bardugo (Ruin & Rising/The Grisha Trilogy).

Hart began the panel with a broad question, asking the authors what determines when a series ends. Their answers seemed to fall along the same spectrum; Bardugo and Grossman both said that when you’re writing, you know when it’s over and when you have to let go. The others discussed that not only the story arc has to end, but the character’s own arc should end as well. A writer has to end a series in a way that is satisfactory to the reader. Cole, probably the only dissenting book, commented that she doesn’t want to leave the world of her Immortals After Dark Series, and said that she would keep writing stories in that world until people stopped reading them.

Next, each discussed how a writer would sustain a series, and though there were an array of answers, almost all of them revolved around one thing: the characters. Maberry talked about how a character doesn’t necessarily have to be likeable, but all characters should be relatable. Winters agreed, but also said that a writer should write a character until they like him or her, because characters shouldn’t be finished yet. Flewelling gave the age old advice of writing for yourself, because if you don’t entertain yourself, why are you writing for anyone else?

She then opened the floor for a Q&A.

The first question regarded cliffhangers, and whether a book can or should end on an absolute one. The reply was that there are really no hard rules to writing a perfect narrative, but the main goal in ending a novel is to satisfy the readers. Though they did like cliffhangers in general, Taylor did give a word of caution: don’t make them feel cheap.

The authors were asked how they felt about prequels. Taylor replied that prequels are for fanfiction. Jonathan said that he might write a prequel for his world, but not his characters. Though they briefly discussed writing prequels in the form of short stories, so as to avoid being bogged down by the length and narrative arc of a novel, ultimately the authors agreed that prequels are not nearly as interesting because the writer and the reader already know what happens at the end.

Their final question asked them whether it was fair to destroy the world, and whether they would want to continue writing stories after their world had ended. Maberry’s reply was, Why not? There’s always a story to tell.

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