To be or Not to be (Continued, that is…)
The essential concept of a series is that the story continues from one book to the next. Both the Heroine and the Reader gradually discover more about the Ultimate Mystery or the Real Truth that drives the action. Two of my favorite YA series are Divergent by Veronica Roth and Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor. The initial books end in a smash up that leaves Heroine and Reader reeling in the aftermath and wondering what will happen next.
Taylor ended her book with the words: “… to be continued”; Roth didn’t.
I debated whether to end the first book of my YA trilogy, The Riddle of Prague, with those words. The story ends with a showdown and shocking revelations, but there’s enough mystery remaining to hint at more adventures. The book has a defined beginning and end: Girl goes to Prague; Girl discovers Riddle; Girl solves Riddle; Girl leaves Prague. I intended to write a series of books and not a serialized book. (The latter has gained somewhat of a bad reputation in the world of Indie Writers, although let’s not forget that many of Charles Dickens’ beloved stories began as serialized books.)
Initially, I concluded my story with ‘To be continued’ in the hope that these words would generate excitement about the sequel. Before the book came out, but after I sent review copies, I changed my mind: “To be continued” seemed a little over-excited and showoffish. I took the words out. Then I received a favorable write-up from Kirkus Reviews. I was thrilled, but the reviewer concluded with “[a]fter the story ends with ’To Be Continued‘ readers will likely to want to see more ….” Now I had to leave the words in. Or so I thought.
I wonder whether that was a mistake. A few readers think they’ve been cheated out of an ending. “I really enjoyed the book,” one writes, “But I really hate books that end with to be continued.” Oh dear. Another says, “Annoying to finish and find the next isn’t due out yet…” But wait! Then that means you liked the story, right? And you want to read more, I hope. If I hadn’t included the offending words, would these readers have happily waited for the next book? The sequel will be out soon, I promise, because the point of a series is for the story… to be continued.
Laura DeBruce is a documentary filmmaker and writer. She grew up traveling all over the world thanks to her father’s work with the U.S. Embassy. She and her husband spent twelve years living in Europe including
Prague, Paris, Amsterdam and where she found
inspiration to write The Quicksilver Legacy Series. In London she worked as a lawyer for the first
private nationwide television station in the former Communist bloc. It was there that she fell in love with the
ancient city of Prague
and its legends. Prague
She lives in the
area with her husband and son and an unruly Golden Retriever. Washington, DC
Website with blog and trailer: http://theriddleofprague.com/
Prizes for the tour are as follows:
• One randomly chosen commenter will win a $50 Amazon/BN.com gift card.
• Two randomly chosen hosts will each receive a $25 Amazon/BN.com gift card.