Wednesday, October 27, 2010

How much closure is needed?

I finished a book this weekend (yay for me! LOL). It's the first book in a planned two book series. Book one tells one couples story and book two will be two of their friends. The friends play big roles in book one and you can definitely feel the tension between them. You know there is something going on, but at the end of book one, one of them is really hurt by something the other did. It wasn't anything intentional. Just a misunderstanding of sorts, but it left one of the characters feeling pretty broken hearted.

I sent the book to one of my readers and because she rocks like that, she already got the book back to me. She wasn't real sure about how I left things off with the secondary characters. Even though they will hopefully get a book of their own, she thought they needed some kind of closure in this book just so she, as a reader, knows things are kind of going to be okay with them. Not that they'll get together, but that the air is clear. Leaving things the way I did, she felt too bummed for the characters.

It got me thinking about how much closure we really need for secondary characters who will hopefully have their own book down the road. Do we need any at all? I know it's kind of a hard question since you don't know the details of the book, but how do you feel about a cliffie ending for secondary characters? Especially if they're friends who will possibly be more in the future. Does it set up the tension well for the next book, or just annoy you that you have to wait for any kind of reconciliation between them?


Natalie Dae said...

Hmm. That's a tough one. Maybe just tie up the problem a little bit, making it clear they have a story to come, because then readers will have it in mind to look out for it when it's published.

Your h/h could say something that indicates they will possibly get together, and the other could say: We'll just have to see, won't we?

Or something like that, so reader is satisfied with them possibly getting together and also know a second book might be on the way.

Hope that helps!


Bekki Lynn said...

I recently read a post on taking care of the reader. I think closure of any character involved in the story is part of it.

A while back, I had read a story where the secondary characters seemed like a story within a story and I was ticked that their relationship was left unresolved.

As writers we know secondary characters give the main characters substance, but do we pay attention to what we've done with them? At times I think we forget to take care of them, because our focus is on the main storyline. We have to look at the story from a readers point of view which isn't always easy when we're thrilled to have the story finished and anxious to turn it in.

Kudos for you to have a reader read the story and give you honest feedback.

Anny Cook said...

Yeah. Some type of closure. I try to finish every book with the threads knotted neatly at the end. Even if they're minor.

Then if you write the second, third, etc., that's a bonus for the reader.

Tess MacKall said...

That's a tough one to call, Madison. In a romance we're supposed to make sure everything is resolved within the story. A complete HEA or HFN.

But that's usually talked about with the main protagonists. But I can see how leaving anything unresolved could tick off a reader.

As an editor, I'd advise you to adjust that cliffhanger for the secondary characters in such a way that the situation is resolved but not to the point that it doesn't leave a good set up for a sequel with them.

For instance: Let's say main heroine from story one is upset with secondary character from story one. It screws up their friendship. Rather than leaving that open, I'd have them make up--at least begin a dialogue in which the reader can guess that they will eventually be true friends again. But leave it so that the reader knows there is more to come.

Great way to hook a reader as well I think. You can pull this off and have it pretty much the way you want it with just a few tweaks I think. Maybe just a scene of dialogue between the two sparring friends.

Try it and hand it back to your beta and see what she thinks of the change. Ask her if it gives her a more satisfied feeling yet still sets up book 2.

Good luck with it. I'm sure you'll work it out.

Anne Rainey said...

Hmm, I don't know. I've read stories where the secondary characters were left hanging. Didn't Lori Foster have a few like that?

I agree with Natalie here. Maybe just clear the air btwn them a little bit...?

Molly Daniels said...

As a reader, a 'loose end' will have me snapping up the next book in the series in a heartbeat! Yeah, I'll whine and moan about it, but it builds anticipation toward the next book. And you'd better not disappoint me:)

Madison Scott said...

Nat, thanks! Great advice.

Madison Scott said...

Bekki, Taking care of the reader. I like that! Great way to put it. Love the idea of taking care of the secondary characters too.

Madison Scott said...

Thanks, Anny!

Madison Scott said...

Sounds good, Tess. Thanks!

Madison Scott said...

Anne, its on the book you've read some of. It's hard because they keep with their back and forth banter the whole book, but then something happens that bums her out where Jay is concerned. She's left hurt and he really has no clue. lol. I'm struggling with finding the line. I do think they need a good little talk though.

Madison Scott said...

Molly, ahhh the pressure! LOL. Just kidding. I kind of like it too. It makes me excited to see how they're going to fix it in the next book. It's hard to straddle the line, I think.

Anne Rainey said...

Okay, I'm with Molly! LOL! That's pretty much what I do too!

--and I LOVE this story! I'll get more read tonight. I've been feeling crappy lately and haven't felt like doing much of anything.

Madison Scott said...

Anne, I can send you the newest copy if you want. Just let me know.

C. Zampa said...

I agree with everyone else. It is a tough call.

I know, when I read a book in which secondary characters are left with unreconciled issues, I get a little angsty, and hope for all the loose ends to be tied for them.

Secondary characters are often very memorable and a reader can become attached very much to them, and find themselves hoping for them to have a happy ending just as much as the main characters.

But that's the beauty of sequels.

Unknown said...

Unresolved issues between secondary characters doesn't bother me. If I love them enough to actually want them to have a story, then I trust that the writer will resolve the issue down the road. Clear the air between the secondary characters only if YOU feel it is important to the current story. If their issue has nothing to do with the outcome between hero and heroine, then don't do it. You will have readers who are frustrated by the muddy waters, but you will also have readers who don't care either way. They have enjoyed your current story and are looking forward to your next one.

Books, like life, are bound to have unresolved issues sometimes. It's what keeps us turning pages and snapping up the stories.

Regina Carlysle said...

I think having a cliffhanger for secondary characters is fine as long as you are clear there will be a story for them. You've set up tension for the next book and I think that's a good thing.

Madison Scott said...

Thanks everyone!