Wednesday, May 1, 2019

The End of the Affair (An IWSG Post)

Hello, all!

It's the first Wednesday of the month, which means it's time for another action-packed installment of the Insecure Writer's Support Group.

(If you're interested in more information about the group, signing up, and/or a complete list of participants, please click on the above link.)

This month's awesome co-hosts are Lee Lowery, Juneta Key, Yvonne Ventresca, and T. Powell Coltrin.

This month's (optional) question asks, "What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?"

But I'm going to skip that so I can talk ramble (because there is no plan for this post. It is a straight-up ramble) about something I can't seem to get out of my head.

Let's talk ramble about endings. Specifically, endings to series.

So, maybe you haven't heard of it, but there's this little show out in the world called Game of Thrones (Don't worry—this will be a SPOILER-FREE post.) A few hours before the final season premiere aired, I saw a tweet that asked, "On a scale from 1 to LOST, how disappointing will the end of Game of Thrones be?"

Which seems to suggest that the writer of that tweet is expecting to be disappointed.

And ever since then, I have been filled with Deep Thoughts.

It seems unfair to assume that the end of a show will be disappointing before we've even seen it. I mean, sure, it absolutely could be disappointing. But isn't there a chance it won't be disappointing? Which is not to suggest that every viewer in the world will feel the same way about the ending—that sort of thing doesn't happen, I know—and a lot of times, an ending is disappointing (see: How I Met Your Mother) so maybe a disappointing ending is inevitable.

But what's a writer to do? Is it possible, do you think, to create a satisfying ending for a series, or is it some kind of mission impossible situation that we're all just doomed to fail? Because we don't determine what makes an ending disappointing. That power rests in the hands of the readers/viewers. And maybe Game of Thrones will be disappointing because there's no way for it to live up to readers/viewers' expectations.

One of my current WIPs is the third book in my fantasy series (NOTE: THIS IS NOT ME SUGGESTING IN ANY WAY, SHAPE, OR FORM THAT MY BOOKS ARE AT ALL COMPARABLE TO ASOIAF. BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT). It's not meant to be the true end of a series because my current plan is to eventually write books 4-6, but Book Three is meant to be an ending (meaning, not of the cliffhanger variety) just in case I never actually get around to writing the other three. Which knowing me and how long it takes me to write anything could very well happen.

But that's not the point. Not that I really have a point because I don't. I only have a ramble.

Anyway, I was visiting with one of my beta readers over the weekend and she brought up how scared she is to read Book Three because she's afraid she'll be super mad at me (or at least author me) when she's done. A couple of other readers have expressed their desire for happy endings for certain characters. So, are they going to be mad if those characters don't get happy endings?

Here's the thing (or, at least a thing)—I'm going to write this story the way it demands to be written, regardless of what my readers have told me they want or don't want. If characters need to die, they're going to die. If characters find a way to a happy ending, I'll...well, I'll be super surprised, but if that ends up being best for the story, then absolutely. Live happily ever after, character. More power to you.

Whatever happens, it seems the odds that I'm going to write an ending that disappoints my readers (or at least some of them) are pretty damn good. And I'm okay with that. At least I think I am. In a million years when I've actually published this book, I may find out otherwise, but for the moment, I think I'm okay with that. I suspect I may even delight in it a little bit because I am a terrible person.

But who knows. I don't. All I know is that I can't stop thinking about writing endings, and this post is very long, so here comes the part where I turn things over to you, o writers who are far wiser than I am.

What do you think? What series (either TV or books, or movies—dealer's choice) have you found to be satisfying or disappointing? Have you written the ending of a series? How did it go? Also, how is it May already?

Thanks for stopping by and suffering through my rambling. I'll try to do better next time.


  1. Off the top of my head, I loved the ending to The Middle. It's one of my favorite sitcoms/series, and I thought they did a fabulous job with the whole last season.

    For GoT, I will be devastated that's it's over, but I will probably need distance to judge whether the ending worked for me or not.

    1. I think my only disappointment with The Middle was that it ended. I loved that show. And I'm disappointed that the Sue Heck spin-off wasn't picked up. She was such a great character.

      I find I generally need time and distance to process how I feel about finales of beloved shows/movies/books. I'm sure GOT will be no exception.

  2. You can't please all the fans. Everyone has different expectations. And the negative ones will be bummed no matter what. Don't worry about them. You're not writing for them.

    1. I'm not worried. At least I don't think so. That may change as I get deeper into this manuscript, but for now, I'm not worried.

  3. There are some disappointing endings out there, but then there are some that do well at creating a sense of completion. Maybe that's why they gave us the movie Serenity, because they shorted us an ending in Firefly. That seemed like a rather acceptable ending.

    At least you have an ending! I know my series is going to be 4 books long, but I have no idea how book 4 will end. Will the main character die? Or will he get his HEA? Not sure at the moment.

    1. I'm not sure how book 3 will end exactly. It seems to shift from day to day. The goal is to have it be a definite ending, however that comes about, but I don't think I'll know if I can pull that off until I either do or don't. Knowing what will happen is so overrated, right?

  4. I'm sans TV, so the best I can do is say that if any ending doesn't wrap up well and leaves the reader or viewer dissatisfied, it kind of ruins the series. What a shame that is, right? I mean you've invested time and emotional involvement to be let down at the finish. Great post.

  5. Oh, LOST. I was so obsessed with that show. And yeah, the ending was awful. Yet when an ending is spectacular, I remember it always. (One of my favorite book series' endings is The Troy Game by Sara Douglass. It was as epic as the series.) I worry about my endings too. I know as a writer, I want the good guys to win but they have to win in a way they don't expect. Will that satisfy the reader? Man, I hope so.

  6. Most people want satisfaction in an ending even if it's not the happiest ending.

    I was never a fan of Seinfield, but when that last episode aired and the fans hated it - I LOVED it because they got what they deserved for being such shallow people.

    1. The characters got what they deserved, not the fans. Had to clarify.

  7. The problem with TV show endings is TV shows are really about the middle. You have a pilot, and then the hope is the show will live for seven years (although they're going longer nowadays), so the idea is to perpetuate the middle. That's where Lost went wrong. They were so busy trying to keep the mystery going that they lost track of an ending.

    I think when there's a specific length and an ending in mind, that ending works better. So, for books or a book series, you should be fine. Will yours be disappointing? That's what your beta readers are for. They'll let you know.

  8. Endings are always tricky. Some series really end at the end of season one, but because they are popular, the execs try and eke out another three seasons where in reality, the story arc was complete way earlier.

  9. You can't please everyone! I think it's ok not to have a happy ending, as long as it's a satisfying ending. It has to feel right for the story. I've thought about ending my series with a HEA (including an epilogue that takes place in the future showing that the HEA has held up), but I'm starting to lean more toward an ambiguous ending.

  10. Yeah, I'm the only one who thought the ending to Lost was good and fitting. That probably says something about me :P

  11. We can't make every reader happy, especially with a series like yours. With mine, I do provide HEA. Even with the urban fantasy I haven't published yet. My characters go through hell and back...there's battles...characters do die...but my main characters end up having a HEA. All we can do is write the endings that we like. We're the writers...they're our stories.

    With GOT, so many were disappointed with the last episode, but I loved it...though there were a couple of things that drove me bonkers. With GOT, there's no way everyone will be happy.

  12. I already know how GoT ends, because I read the books. Whether the series will follow that? Time will tell.

    I seldom enjoy female lead characters in books translated into television shows, because it becomes all T and A and booty calls for the male character(s). I also lose interest as soon as a themed show (police, medical, fire, lawyer, whatever) strays away from actual stories with plots to just everyone having sex. Boring boring boring. I'd rather read.

  13. I don't know how it's May already.
    I have written the end of a series and it did disappoint some. I have actually thought about pulling it off the shelf and revising it (even three years later), but I know why I wrote what I wrote. I really should write the next trilogy in that world - which I planned to do already. That's the trouble with the ending, really, it had a few openings for the other characters to go and do ... stuff.
    However, I'm glad my MC went where she went and did what she did. I'm glad the villains did what they did and ... well, I wouldn't change the main stuff, ever. I was invested in the story when I wrote it, and when I think about it, I still am. Those characters "deserved" what they found at the end of the trilogy, in more ways than one.
    So, write away. Go where the characters need to go. Some will be disappointed. Some will just be sad that it's over. It's okay. Just write.

  14. You gotta end the way it needs to be ended. I have read series that rocked for the first two books and then the third and final book so disappointed me. I hope GoT doesn't let us down. I'm dreading the end.

  15. I think Marvel just pulled off the perfect ending with Endgame.
    Lucas wimped out on Return of the Jedi. He originally planned for the Falcon and Lando to NOT make it out of the Death Star before it exploded (hence Han's comment about his feeling), but, when it came to it, he decided to give the fans the happy ending he thought they wanted. Not that I was unhappy, but I think I would have preferred a little more tragedy at this point.
    GoT failed. In every way. But, then, I think that whole series is a failure. I only watch it because I'm forced to.
    Justified had a great ending.
    And, beyond that, I'm drawing a blank.

    1. Oh! Psych had a good ending! Really good, in fact.
      Monk did not.

  16. I personally know only one of my beta readers. The feedback is candid, and I don't feel obligated to instruct my characters to do anything but what they will.

    The ending to "No Country For Old Men" is one I might never get over. Oh, wait, "Thelma and Louise" was another one.
    The ending to "Matchstick Men" was one I never saw coming - and that's saying something!

    Write first for yourself, your readers will come along ;-)

  17. Endings are hard. Sometimes even when it's the right ending, I kind of hate it. Maybe that's a compliment, because I didn't want it to end? I haven't gotten to the end of my series yet, so I don't know yet how I'll handle it when I get there. Hmmmm . . .

    @mirymom1 from
    Balancing Act

  18. Endings are very difficult to nail. I think all writers know that. So saying that GoT might have a lazy ending or one that is deeply unsatisfying (in my opinion) is just telling the truth and being realistic. It probably will be just that.