Length, Endings, and Loose Ends

I’ve started writing the final book in the Marian Trilogy.

This Thursday afternoon, I sat down and wrote the first thousand words of the conclusion to Ethan Denby’s journey. The second book in the trilogy is currently in the hands of my wife (who is actually an awesome beta reader) and a trusted author friend. If everything goes the way I expect, you should be able to pick up a copy of The Hunted this fall.

Anyway, I didn’t feel like sitting around and twiddling my thumbs while waiting for beta reader feedback, so I’ve turned to the final installment of the trilogy. It is a little weird talking about this one when The Hunted isn’t even out yet. A lot of crazy stuff has happened since we left Ethan and the twins riding around the dunes, and a lot of crazy stuff is going to happen after the end of The Hunted. If you couldn’t tell, I’m just a little excited for you to see what this whole thing has been building towards.

I’m also a little intimidated.

Because I’m writing the end.

I’ve always felt like the longer a story is, the more pressure that puts on the ending. Maybe it’s because long stories end up developing more loose ends that people want tied up. Maybe the more time people spend with a story, the more they build up their own expectations of an ending.

Whatever the case, it seems to me the need for a satisfactorily climactic and conclusive ending to a story is in direct proportion to its length. I think that’s what hurt LOST and The Dark Tower. If LOST had only gone for three seasons like originally planned, I feel like the exact same ending wouldn’t have made nearly as many people mad. If The Dark Tower was just a short story or a novella, it might be regarded as one of Stephen King’s better endings. (For the record, I personally love the ending to The Dark Tower. I never finished LOST because, as it turns out, it is an exhausting show to binge-watch.)

And I think that’s why I’m feeling the pressure on this last book. Granted, the last book of Stephen King’s epic series alone is longer than my entire trilogy will end up being, but this is still the longest thing I’ve written. After four years with these characters – and another one or two before it’s all said and done – I know I need to really deliver on those last pages.

And I think I will deliver. I’ve been excited about this ending from the very start, and that excitement hasn’t changed.

I will say this, though – not every loose end will be tied up. This is partially because this is a story where the fabric of reality has been damaged. That’s a freeing place to write about as an artist. I want to make it as easy as possible to return to that world if I ever feel like it.

Mostly, though, I’m not wrapping everything up in pretty little bows because that’s not what life is like. It’s not what my life is like, anyway. I’ve never been at a place where all the subplots have come to a nice, satisfactory conclusion at the exact same time. There’s always a little lingering mystery. There’s always a little struggle. It would feel weird for me to bring closure to every little thing that’s come up in this story, so I’m just not going to do it.

But let’s not worry about that right now. Like I said, I’m thinking about how this story ends, but – at least in terms of the stuff you can go read on Amazon – Ethan’s journey has only just begun.

Keep an eye open on Facebook in the next few months for a chance to get an early copy of The Hunted, and if you haven’t started the trilogy yet, well, you can find it pretty much anywhere.

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