Hi everyone, and thank you for tuning in to another episode of the We Make Books Podcast - A podcast about writing, publishing, and everything in between!

This week is the story of an apocalypse, the end of a world, specifically the one you created.  We’re talking about finishing your series and some of the things that can happen along with way.  What is a “good” ending?  How significant can outside influences be?  What can you do to minimize them?  Do you “owe” something to your readers?  We discuss all that, talk about some of the emotions and feelings you may come up against, and make entirely too many Star Wars comparisons.

We Make Books is hosted by Rekka Jay and Kaelyn Considine; Rekka is a published author and Kaelyn is an editor and together they are going to take you through what goes into getting a book out of your head, on to paper, in to the hands of a publisher, and finally on to book store shelves.

We Make Books is a podcast for writers and publishers, by writers and publishers and we want to hear from our listeners! Hit us up on our social media, linked below, and send us your questions, comments, concerns, and we’re genuinely curious, who saw The Rise of Skywalker and what did you think of it?

We hope you enjoy We Make Books!

Twitter: @WMBCast  |  @KindofKaelyn  |  @BittyBittyZap

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Kaelyn:00:00   Hey everyone, welcome back to another episode of the, we make books podcast to show about writing, publishing and everything in between. I'm Kaelyn Considine and I am the acquisitions editor for Parvus Press.

Rekka:00:09   And I'm Rekka, I write science fiction and fantasy as RJ Theodore.

Kaelyn:00:13   So, um, today we're talking about kind of an inevitable conclusion, which is -

Rekka:00:17   Yeah, Kaelyn keeps trying to make this about me, but I keep deflecting it back to Star Wars so I can blame someone else for the perhaps missteps that happen and creating a series from start to finish.

Kaelyn:00:29   We're talking about finishing your series. Um, you know, we'll just flat out, we both just watched The Rise of Skywalker we were talking about it.

Rekka:00:36   Otherwise we definitely would've been talking about game of Thrones in this [inaudible].

Kaelyn:00:41   Yeah, definitely. Yeah. Actually -

Rekka:00:43   That's very true.

Kaelyn:00:46   Don't get me started on that anyway. But yeah, we're talking about, you know, we did another book about, or we.

Rekka:00:53   I did another book.

Kaelyn:00:54   She did another book. We did a previous episode about, um, your second book in your series. And it, it's so weird because it never occurred to us to do something about finishing your series until we -

Rekka:01:07   Well, we were talking about having an editor on your side and that episode.

Kaelyn:01:11   Yes, that's true.

Rekka:01:12   And so it was a little different and quite focused on the content of the series itself this time, without naming too many specifics, we do get into the talk about your series as a satisfying arc for, and we focus a lot on whether it's a satisfying arc for your reader, but I think we, we bring it back to the key points at the end. So definitely listen all the way through. Um, it doesn't have nearly as much star was ranting as I expected it to.

Kaelyn:01:37   No we really -

Rekka:01:38   There's a lot ofexasperated noises, but we to be expected, very afraid that we were going to go off on some tangent. We're going to have to trim like 35 minutes out for Patreon and luckily we're both a little tired.

Kaelyn:01:48   So, um, anyway, yeah, just, you know, kind of talking about, uh, things you might encounter outside influences, um, interacting with fans and how they can influence things and what you were obligated to do in this process.

Rekka:02:02   Yeah. Um, so anyway, uh, take a listen as always, we hope that you enjoy.

Kaelyn:02:06   Here it comes.

Speaker 2:       02:12   [inaudible]

Kaelyn:02:19   So a chunch of salt tells you what to do?

Rekka:02:21   Better than an astrologer.

Kaelyn:02:23   Fair. Very true. We're going to start it now.

Rekka:02:28   We're just going to start it whenever you want, or we can just stare at each other and think about how nice it is to be friends.

Kaelyn:02:32   Yeah, that's true. That's very true. It's um, it's weird because it's clearly night in here and I'm not used to, I don't think I've ever been in here in clearly night.

Rekka:02:41   There are a lot of firsts going on right now. This is the first time you've ever recorded a podcast in a scarf.

Kaelyn:02:47   Is it?

Rekka:02:47   Yeah.

Kaelyn:02:48   Okay. Well it's like 10 degrees outside, if that, um, Rekka -

Rekka:02:54   You called it refreshing.

Kaelyn:02:55   It is refreshing, but you know, that's why -

Rekka:02:58   Until it seeps into your bones.

Kaelyn:02:58   That's why I have scarf. That's how it stays refreshing and warm enough that, you know, it's, it's uh, you can stand out there, look at the stars. It's, it's very, it's very pleasant. Um, you know, for small increments of time. Um, yeah.

Rekka:03:11   Speaking of the opposite of small increments of time.

Kaelyn:03:14   Yeah. Um, so we're actually talking about the end of time, a time.

Rekka:03:20   I mean, even your apocalyptic scenarios, but that's not what the episodes actually about.

Kaelyn:03:24   I mean, really, is this not an apocalyptic scenario?

Rekka:03:26   Bats and pigs, I know.

Kaelyn:03:28   Watch out for them!

Rekka:03:31   Um, yeah. The scenario that brings about our topic today feels very apocalyptic.

Kaelyn:03:37   It is to a lot of -

Rekka:03:38   I need something plush to hug.

Kaelyn:03:39   I mean, in some ways it is actually an apocalypse. It's the end of a world. Oh goodness. Okay.

Rekka:03:47   I'm all right. Yeah, I know.

Kaelyn:03:50   So it's never ending story where it's just nothing.

Rekka:03:53   So what we're talking about today is ending a series, and this is hitting, you guys can't see Rekka's face right now, but like she's, she's having trouble with this because this is hitting particularly close to home for her because Rekka is actually in the process right now of, uh, of ending her series.

Kaelyn:04:11   Um, so in a way -

Rekka:04:13   I'm ending a trilogy unless sales can pick up and you might want five more.

Kaelyn:04:18   In a way it is an apocalypse. Um, I think by definition I'm going to have to, I'm going to have to check that. Um, you know, we're talking about ending a series today and um, we've talked, you know, we did an episode a few weeks ago about your second book in a series, which um, this is different though because things -

Rekka:04:41   The second book in a series, you can keep going up your roller coaster incline.

Kaelyn:04:44   Yup.

Rekka:04:44   The, the end of the series you have to pull some absurd number of loops before you can bring it home and also keep up the pacing of the first portion of the story and also make sure that everybody's a little like question marks have been turned into periods and all this stuff. Like there's a lot going on.

Kaelyn:05:07   It's true. So I mean it's not, what we're going to talk about today is kind of, um, you know, this is going to be half and half. This is going to be a little bit informational and motivational. And then this is going to be a little bit emotional because Rekka has got some feelings about it.

Rekka:05:19   I refuse to feel anything.

Kaelyn:05:21   Okay, fine. No feelings. Um, so hypothetically, if Rekka had feelings about this.

Rekka:05:28   They would be big feelings.

Kaelyn:05:29   They'd be big feelings and they would probably, all of them be laced with small degrees of unadulterated panic.

Rekka:05:36   Well, now that was true before. It's true now.

Kaelyn:05:41   No, and I think it's completely normal to when you're getting to the end of something that you have spent, you know, regardless of the span of time over which this was published to the years leading up to it need to be counted for something that has been such a significant part of your life for so long, there's going to be a feeling of loss. And it sounds dramatic to say that, but that's exactly what it is. This thing that was a very significant living part of your life is gone now.

Rekka:06:08   And there was some brief discussion when we talked about like, now you're a published author. What does that feel like? Um, this almost, and I don't use this term lightly postpartum of publishing a book. Um, definitely yeah, there is depression, there is sense of confusion of loss and you know, aimlessness and especially because as you're publishing a book, there's the part where you're drafting and then many, many months later there's the part where it comes out. And in between there, your partially moving on from the book, but you're also partially looking ahead and you're also anticipating the release and you're also anticipating, you know, the various scenarios in which you could interact with readers or readers could interact with your book during this time. And then, you know, then it's publishing day and it very rarely goes in any sort of Hollywood style fashion. Um, the best you can hope for apparently is just, you know, someone who's worked with you on the book acknowledges you with a cake, with the cover of your book printed on it in digital ink.

Kaelyn:07:20   You know, I gotta I gotta make a quick note over here.

Rekka:07:22   Yeah, write that down, cause I have two books out now and I have not gotten a cake. No. But the, um, the feeling is going to be multiplied by the fact that now, boom, this is, you are done with this series. This world is not somewhere you have to revisit ever again. You may, cause people do.

Kaelyn:07:44   Yeah, definitely. But um, this might be the end.

Rekka:07:49   Yeah.

Kaelyn:07:49   So, you know, , like I said, we kind of want to touch on the, you know, the emotional from the author side of things. It is completely normal to feel a sense of loss there. I think. Um, or you know, maybe you're just ready to be done and you're excited about it. Um, I'm sure it runs the spectrum of emotion.

Rekka:08:08   There's love and fatigue involved in making a book.

Kaelyn:08:12   Yeah. But there's a lot of stress that comes along with finishing a series besides all of the issues of this is over now. I can't believe it there, there --

Rekka:08:25   How did it end?

Kaelyn:08:26   There is a lot of stress leading up to it. Now, again, we always use examples of trilogies, but this is true of any -

Rekka:08:34   Quadrilogies.

Kaelyn:08:34   Any series really. Um, there's pressure to finish it, quote unquote, right. And I think right can be skewed because to me finishing it right means a satisfying ending that covers all of the, that need to be covered.

Rekka:08:56   Right. There's no one correct answer. There's no set of words that is the one you must match in order to proceed to the next level.

Kaelyn:09:04   Yeah, and the way we kind of started talking about this and decided to come down to this topic was the satisfying ending verse the quote unquote right ending and quickly, you know, qualifying that the right ending is one that the fans want. Now -

Rekka:09:21   And they're the ones who are judging whether or not it's right.

Kaelyn:09:23   Yes. Now can those two things line up? Absolutely, they can.

Rekka:09:27   However, do you want them to, like if we're talking about fan theories of how the series should end, do you not want to surprise them a little bit? Like, dude, don't you like see that as like, all right, well that those are the, the ones I should avoid because they're obvious.

Kaelyn:09:40   Well, and this is, this is a big problem with the advent of the internet that a lot of authors have know. George RR Martin has famously had problems with this that now granted if he wrote a little faster, maybe this wouldn't be such a thing, but we'll get into that as well. But fan theories and even fan fiction have actually caused authors a lot of grief and strife with how they're finishing their series because, well, for two reasons. One is that the potential for influence there, the other is that maybe somebody got it right and now there's something out there on the internet for all the world to see that you cannot convince everyone completely that you got it first.

Rekka:10:23   Right. So here's some advice that's not on the topic and it's going to come up again later. We're going to do a social media episode, but do not read your fanfiction and try as best you can to avoid your fan theories. It seems like it'd be fun. It seems like you want to support the people who are really into your story, but you actually have some legal issues.

Kaelyn:10:48   There was actually, um, a case, and I apologize, we, we paused recording so I can try to look forward and I can't find it. If I find it, I'll link it in the show notes of an author who did go and read some of the fanfiction came up with one that really liked the ending and contacted the person that wrote it to see about co-opting what they had written and kind of like partnering on it. Like, I can't remember, he was kind of at an impasse of how to, how to finish it or what have you. And there was a lawsuit about this so we could do an entire episode on issues with fanfiction and stuff.

Rekka:11:25   Best practice is don't engage with fanfiction of your work.

Kaelyn:11:28   Yeah. Because I'm, all of these things are influencing you and from the editorial side, the best ending to your story is the way you intended to end your story. What if you didn't know? And look, here's the thing. That's very possible, but that's, you know, that's, that's -

Rekka:11:48   As an example, you know, since we're using me as an example of this hypothetical situation in which I have feels about, um, when I wrote flotsam and plan to self-publish as we've covered before in this show, I did not plan on this being a trilogy. I was going to write these characters for as long as I had readers who were interested in reading about them or until I lost interest. And so when I signed with Parvus, they did not want to buy an indefinite number of books in a series that may or may not ever get finished for some reason. Um, so what they bought was a trilogy. And that means that whether or not Parvus wants to buy more books in this world, there has to be a satisfying conclusion at the end of three books.

Kaelyn:12:35   So getting to that, you know, some people know exactly how their book's going to end. Some people have to figure it out along the way, but these external influences can get very dangerous very quickly because I can -

Rekka:12:50   And you are like, let's be clear, you are constantly being influenced externally.

Kaelyn:12:54   Absolutely.

Rekka:12:55   However, most of those influences are not specific to your characters and your plots. You might read, read a book, watch a movie, and whether consciously or subconsciously figure out how you're going to solve your plot because these ideas melded in and you know, percolated inside your head. But you hopefully are not taking direct items from a thing and saying, I am applying these, you know, the sequence of events to my story. You are being influenced in a subconscious way, but I don't think it's possible but possible to be influenced in a subconscious way when the thing influencing you is a parody, a homage -

Kaelyn:13:38   You don't exist, you don't exist in a vacuum. Now, I mean hopeful, you know, I really hope everyone listening to this who's interested in writing a book, it becomes successful enough that one day they have to worry about fan theories and speculation and that kind of stuff. Um, and it's very easy in the age of the internet where there is such a thing as instantaneous feedback to start taking that into consideration when you shouldn't. You are not writing - let me qualify. All, I'm going to qualify what I'm about to say. You are not writing a book specifically to please your fans. Now it should appeal to them. And we've talked about this. You know, with your second book.

Rekka:14:24   Yeah. Your existing fans are the perfect market to sell your third book to.

Kaelyn:14:27   If in the trilogy we talked about this in a, in the second book episode, if all of a sudden your book flies off the rails and goes a completely different direction in their dinosaur is where there were no dinosaurs previously, nor indication that there ever could be they then that's an issue.

Rekka:14:44   Yeah. I mean, you are upsetting your fans for good reason.

Kaelyn:14:46   For good reason -

Rekka:14:48   But your fans being upset because you didn't do the thing that they imagined doing -

Kaelyn:14:51   Yes.

Rekka:14:51   Is not a reason to worry about whether they're upset.

Kaelyn:14:54   You are not obligated to finish the book the way you think your fans want it finished. It's, even though it's not their satisfying ending, it's a satisfying end ending. Or it can be or can be. It hopefully is. Um, so what does that look like? Well, it looks like resolving the questions, the actions, addressing the big themes and the goals of the characters. It looks like having some form of a resolution to what you started out to try to do now that may have one that may have changed along the way, but presumably everything has kind of grown out of the place that it started. Um, hopefully characters have developed and grown and changed and maybe the things that they do in the last book they would not have done in the first one. It's called character development. And it's fantastic.

Rekka:15:47   It is fantastic though it is not 100% necessary.

Kaelyn:15:51   Yeah.

Rekka:15:51   According to some genre. It doesn't, it doesn't need to be.

Kaelyn:15:54   Um, but there's also like, I'm just gonna, I'm gonna throw it out there. The shipping community, they are like there. Um, don't get me wrong. There are a lot of fun. There's some truly great stuff on Twitter that I can oh Zutara, but that's, you know, that's a big, that's a big thing that also comes up a lot is not even just how the story ends, but who ends up together because we have to constantly be fixated on romantic relationships.

Rekka:16:24   You don't have to actually, as it turns out -

Kaelyn:16:26   As it turns out we don't. But we are.

Rekka:16:27   Yeah. Um, well I think what happens is people find the tension between two characters who have chemistry and for them who prefer to ship. That becomes a fun thing to imagine, you know, and to be fair to the people out there who enjoy a good ship, they don't all expect that the ship is going to be honored.

Kaelyn:16:52   Yes.

Rekka:16:53   There are some times where it really, no, that's really that, that subtext is there.

Kaelyn:16:59   If you publish a book, at some point you are going to see somebody online talking about it, whether it be a review or what have you. Um, if you have a big enough fan base that is really into this, especially if you've written something with a lot of mystery and ambiguity that leaves room for speculation, you're going to see people discussing it. It is unproductive to pretend that that won't get in your head a little bit.

Rekka:17:28   Yeah. And it's unfortunately unrealistic to think that readers won't tag you into it.

Kaelyn:17:35   Yes.

Rekka:17:35   Because they will, unfortunately -

Kaelyn:17:36   And they're, they're doing you a favor.

Rekka:17:38   You know, they're like trying to engage with you. They're trying to express that this is a thing that has piqued their curiosity and they am and they are very interested in the results at the end. Your story road, however -

Kaelyn:17:51   So that said, how obligated are writers to their fans? This is a whole debate about are writers even obligated to finish now controversially I'd say yeah, kind of.

Rekka:18:07   I mean contractually -

Kaelyn:18:08   Contractually is one thing.

Rekka:18:09   Yes. Um, if you know, if Parvus had bought two books with a potential for a third and I didn't want to write the third, what would happen there?

Kaelyn:18:25   If you didn't want to -

Rekka:18:26   If you contracted for two books -

Kaelyn:18:27   And you didn't want to write the third? But Parvus wanted a third?

Rekka:18:30   And Parvus wanted the third.

Kaelyn:18:32   Then it's to the negotiation table. And the thing is that unfortunately you're not obligated to write that. Third, we can do everything we can to get you to try to.

Rekka:18:40   Entice.

Kaelyn:18:41   Yes. But -

Rekka:18:42   That advance just keeps growing.

Kaelyn:18:45   But you don't have to.

Rekka:18:46   Yeah, I don't have to. If I say no, I feel satisfied with this ending and if I open up another can of worms, then I'm not going to be, and my heart isn't going to be in it. My opinion of -

Kaelyn:18:56   In this scenario is the story finished?

Rekka:18:58   Well that's the question.

Kaelyn:18:59   Yeah.

Rekka:18:59   So Parvus is saying no or Parvus is saying, we think that you can take this little story, you know, I'm, I'm putting words in your mouth. Obviously we think you can take this little back story storyline and turn it into a thing that creates a three store. And maybe this is a problem with some other commercial properties going on right now. But, um, -

Kaelyn:19:17   No, no one in particular.

Rekka:19:18   Certainly no nothing. So, um, Parvus wants a third book because they think they can bank on it. Um, I feel like books one and two are a pair and they were, you know, a set and that was all that needs to happen. And so to me, I have done what I can to finish it up.

Kaelyn:19:39   Yes. But I will counter this by saying that in your scenario, two books have finished a story.

Rekka:19:45   Right, that's what I'm saying. So saying, yeah, and I'm saying saying we want to craft the center of trilogy.

Kaelyn:19:50   Yeah, but I'm saying is there an obligation to finish an unfinished story as opposed to adding more to a finished story?

Rekka:19:58   Okay. So let's say in your scenario is a moral obligation as -

Kaelyn:20:03   Well that's a good question. So what are you obligated to your fans? No, I'm not talking. I wasn't even going intending to go in the direction of are you obligated to finish? Because look, here's the thing, at the end of the day, you're not obligated to anything. Your craft is your craft. It's your art. You choose to put it out into the world for people to consume.

Rekka:20:24   That said, I think certain actions will put you in breach of contract.

Kaelyn:20:29   Certain actions will put you in a breach of contract. And then there's also, I think a sense of duty in there somewhere that you know, people have invested their time and energy into something in this, by the way, then is also where you get the people that say who add fuel to the, I don't buy books until the series is finished fire. I can't tell you how many people I've spoken to that are casual to avid readers that say, yeah, like the trilogy, you know, they never finished it and I'm just burned. And like I hate when that happens because and, I sympathize with that because as Rekka knows I'm a story consumer, I need to know how this ends. I need to know what happens. Um, it will keep me up at night.

Rekka:21:10   Absolutely. I have, there's a story and I'm trying to remember the name of the author. I know the book is literally somewhere here behind me, but since I don't remember the name of the author and I alphabetized by author on my, on my shelves recently, I don't even know where it is cause I moved it. Um, but I read this book when I was 14 and I loaned it to a friend and then the second one came out shortly thereafter or we found it because we, you know, it was new on the shelf for the second book and we were 100% into this book. It was Epic fantasy. There were so many characters. Everything was nuanced. Everyone's backstory was in there. Everyone had scars and wounds. That was like just hitting all our little preteen buttons and third book still still listed as forthcoming to this day. But I don't think it's going to happen. And unfortunately it was due to sales. From what I understand, it was not that the author didn't get around to writing it. It was that the publisher decided not to continue with the trilogy.

Kaelyn:22:16   Yeah. And you know, unfortunately that can happen. But um, you know, in those cases there's reversion of rights typically.

Rekka:22:22   Yes. So the author I think has the option to write it, but it's like, well, if the publisher didn't want to publish it, why should I write it? I still look for this book every now and then. Like when I come across it in my collection, which I can't do right now apparently. Um, I go and I see if anything's been said about it and I just generally find wikis about how people share, wish that book would come out well. So that's an obligation in a sense, you know, like are you obligated to finish? And that's a, that's a whole other discussion. I mean, the answer sometimes it's a sad shame that you are not given the opportunity.

Kaelyn:22:55   Yeah. So the obligation is hopefully you have the will and the ability to finish the book. Beyond that, what are your obligations to your audience, to your fans, to my end and Rekka, you know, stop me if you disagree with me. The your obligations are to write a satisfying, cohesive ending. Satisfying does not mean happy.

Rekka:23:21   Right. Absolutely not.

Kaelyn:23:22   Satisfying to me means that the book ended in a way where you feel the story has been completed. If it's supposed to be completed, if there's more coming, there should still be some form of con, a conclusion.

Rekka:23:38   Right. So sort of continuing what we were saying about are you obligated to finish the story? I would have worn anyone who's, you know, is this part of your potential future in your publishing career? If you get a two book contract, make sure there's something satisfying at the end of book two if even if you think that there should be a book three,

Kaelyn:24:00   This is why so many, and we've talked about this, so many trilogies, book one is a soft ending. It is. There is sort of like, I want to call it a satisfying conclusion, but there is a conclusion there.

Rekka:24:11   Yeah, I'd like to think flotsam has one. I've been accused of not having one, but I think, I think it's interpreted.

Kaelyn:24:17   I thought so,yeah.

Rekka:24:18   I think so.

Kaelyn:24:19   Um, I will use, again, I apologize that we just keep sticking with trilogies, but I think a lot of the trouble people have with crafting the satisfying ending is if you look at trilogies, the second installment is a lot of times the favorite because how they, how they run typically is the first one's the soft ending soft conclusion. Things have kind of been wrapped up. And if that's the end of the story, then so be it. But there's clearly more to build off of there when you're then committed to a trilogy. By the end of the second book, everything is on fire.

Rekka:24:55   It has to be.

Kaelyn:24:56   It has to be. Yeah. You know, it's, it's a mess. Okay. Hans frozen in Carbonite,

Rekka:25:03   Gandalf is dead.

Kaelyn:25:06   No, he's not.

Rekka:25:08   Is he? I can't Remember, I can't sit through those movies.

Kaelyn:25:13   Um, the, you know, at the end of the second -

Rekka:25:16   Everyone's given up hope. The worst thing that could happen seems to have happened even though it's not really the worst that's going to happen. You know, you are left feeling like, Oh my God, you can't stop there.

Kaelyn:25:27   And this is also because this is when we see the characters at their lowest.

Rekka:25:32   Right.

Kaelyn:25:32   We see them in absolute desperation. And then when you're writing the final thing, you've got to dig them out of it now. The characters are incredibly compelling when faced with adversity and having to just keep surviving when they have to start problem solving and working their way out of it. That can be where it gets really tricky to keep the characters the same and compelling at the same time.

Rekka:25:57   Right. And also, um, it occurs to me that we are, since we're using trilogies as our, our, um, example throughout the episode, a trilogy is three acts very frequently in Western storytelling. Our stories are in four acts.

Kaelyn:26:16   Yes.

Rekka:26:17   Which can make figuring out where you're going to stop book two and start book three in a trilogy. Very difficult and a little fiddly.

Kaelyn:26:27   Well, if you're Rekka you go with a zombie apocalypse.

Rekka:26:29   Look, not everybody's read salvage yet, thank you.

Kaelyn:26:34   Figuring out you're right. Figuring out where, okay. I have gotten them through the point now where they need to regroup and come back and that's going to happen in book three.

Rekka:26:44   But they also, the pressure is usually on that they don't have the time to step back and regroup. Yes. They have to lick their wounds while they're running into the battlefield.

Kaelyn:26:54   Yeah. So this is why this can be so stressful because you've got all of this stuff typically leading into the conclusion of your story, be it a trilogy or otherwise. You have to now go back through and look at all of this stuff and decide, okay, here are the things that I absolutely must answer and this is where I will start saying your obligations come in.

Rekka:27:17   Yeah. If you ask the major question, you better give it a proportionately sized answer.

Kaelyn:27:24   This is Chekhov's whatever you want, if there was something in there that you dangled in front of readers, you're going to piss off readers if you'd just forget about it.

Rekka:27:33   And here's where listening to fans gets a little tricky.

Kaelyn:27:38   It gets dicey definitely.

Rekka:27:39   Because what if that wasn't supposed to be a big deal, but the fans just latched onto it for no reason and then that's just how it is.

Kaelyn:27:47   That's how the story went. But themes and questions and big lingering issues that need to be dealt with, leaving things on answered because you don't know how to deal with them.

Rekka:28:01   Like never seeing Han again after he's frozen in Carbonite.

Kaelyn:28:05   You know, that's kind of what Harrison Ford wanted -

Rekka:28:09   Right, but they would have done something to set him back

Kaelyn:28:10   They would something exactly.

Rekka:28:13   Um, but if Han gets carted away in that Carbonite after he and Leah semi confessed their love to each other, that would not have been a satisfying conclusion. If we never saw Han.

Kaelyn:28:25   If you never see Han again -

Rekka:28:26   Either dead or aliveou need to answer something about, that situatio, it was not a conclusion in of itself.

Kaelyn:28:36   This is where -

Rekka:28:37   Tying up those loose ends and -

Kaelyn:28:38   This is where problems, like usually I have so many examples of these off the top of my head.

Rekka:28:44   This is where the dissatisfaction comes from is something that if you have made whether intentionally or not feel significant and you treat it at in the end. Like if it wasn't significant. Yeah.

Kaelyn:28:55   And if it wasn't significant, that's one thing. But having like a character that you know goes off to find the MacGuffin and then we never hear from them again.

Rekka:29:06   Right.

Kaelyn:29:07   That's a problem.

Rekka:29:08   Yeah. Like having a prophesied one come in and sent off on a quest and then that's the last we see of them. I know we keep talking about star Wars and bringing this in there and there's reasons for this and it's both because we both have watched.

Kaelyn:29:20   I wasn't even thinking about Star Wars.

Rekka:29:21   We both just went, well, I'm going to bring it up again because we were talking, we both just watched the rise of Skywalker and we were talking about this last night and we're fortunate enough that this episode is going to come out after the embargo on spoilers so we can get into it a little bit. We're not going to spoil it for some people.

Kaelyn:29:36   I'm not even, I wasn't even gonna talk about that. I'm talking about, we were talking about the a prequel trilogy and my question was always with Anikin, okay, there's this whole prophecy of he's going to bring balance to the force.

Rekka:29:47   How was that done?

Kaelyn:29:48   What does that look like? What is a -

Rekka:29:50   Apparently it looks like two people kissing and then reviving each other until they get bored and one decides that, you know what I'm done.

Kaelyn:30:00   You know what? I'm good. Yeah, no, but like, and that was something that really bothered me about that prequel trilogy and even as Anikin and you know, the third a prequel is on fire and Obi wan standing over him. You were supposed to bring, you were supposed to balance the Force, not destroy it.

Rekka:30:16   You are the chosen one.

Kaelyn:30:17   You were, you know.

Rekka:30:18   Yeah.

Kaelyn:30:19   What does that look like? You never have explained what was supposed to happen here that didn't.

Rekka:30:25   This is a can of worms because it's a prequel trilogy to which the original trilogy is now the second act.

Kaelyn:30:37   It's a, yeah.

Rekka:30:38   And now you need another trilogy to be the third part of the tree. What is going on?

Kaelyn:30:45   There's a lot here.

Rekka:30:48   I believe in my heart of hearts that fans would have just been excited to go back to the world where there are Jedi and Sith and you could just set it a few years ahead of that story and never even touched Anikin. Never touch the Skywalker saga. And it would have been a heck of a lot more satisfying than trying to Checkov rifles that came later.

Kaelyn:31:09   Yeah.

Rekka:31:09   But the rifles that came later were already satisfyingly concluded. So now you're creating new open endings and saying, Oh, you thought this, but here's a new question about that. Maybe what you knew was wrong. So maybe we'll answer that. Eventually accepted. It'll be a different set of directors and storytellers and a different company that owns the IP. And maybe you -

Kaelyn:31:32   Look, this is a mess.

Rekka:31:33   I'm just going to stop there. Do you know where this is going?

Kaelyn:31:35   It's a mess. So now all of that said -

Rekka:31:39   And that's a lot.

Kaelyn:31:39   Yeah. I'm going to flip to the other side of, you know, like if we want to get a little good place on this, what do we owe each other? What do writers owe their fans?

Rekka:31:48   Which is, okay, I have trouble with the phrase, owe, the verb to owe implies that the contract is between the author and the reader.

Kaelyn:32:00   Okay. So -

Rekka:32:01   By telling a story, you are in effect in this scenario proffering a contract to the reader and by continuing to read your story, your reader is accepting the contract. But if that is true, two parties signing a contract have read extensively the terms of the contract and they're both on the same -

Kaelyn:32:23   Everyone read your contracts.

Rekka:32:27   Or just read my books.

Kaelyn:32:28   You never look, I am never going to pass up an opportunity to stress read your contracts.

Rekka:32:33   Yes. So is there a contract between a reader and an author? No, because there is no legal document that says satisfy me or, and also what is the orals and the reader is not satisfied by the story and does not want to read that author again. Fine. That's how liking and not liking stories.

Kaelyn:32:55   I was looking at. Oh, more in what are we, what are we obligated to each other for? What is the universe implying in terms of ethics and morality that we are required to give to each other who participate in each of our lives. So -

Rekka:33:13   This hurts. This is physically painting me.

Kaelyn:33:16   Um, but the direction I was going with is that -

Rekka:33:19   Why don't you answer your own question because I don't know where you were going with that.

Kaelyn:33:22   Is don't go out of your way to screw over your readership.

Rekka:33:26   I will know that they're okay. So it's not an Oh, but it's a like have some respect for the people who have been along this ride with.

Kaelyn:33:32   I will use is there's a very famous example of JK Rowling who, yeah, I know. Um, but I'll use this example because it is a good one for this scenario that where she became overwhelmed by fan response and you know, either remember the first three Harry Potter books were kind of already out before people started really taking -

Rekka:33:54   Before Oprah noticed.

Kaelyn:33:55   Yeah. Before there was like the excessive fan attention that it eventually got. But she, I think it was between the fourth and fifth book, took a very long time to write them because of this sudden overwhelming.

Rekka:34:12   And it was between the fourth and fifth book that they suddenly started to get very, very long, very long.

Kaelyn:34:17   And she has said in interviews that she was so overwhelmed, so annoyed, so by everyone with their theories and their fanfiction and all of this stuff that she was going to kill Ron out of sheer spite. Because she was -

Rekka:34:30   That's not what you owe your reader.

Kaelyn:34:31   Exactly. And this is, that's -

Rekka:34:33   And if you can't handle it, you need to figure out how to stay away from these theories.

Kaelyn:34:36   And here's the thing, she didn't eventually, because she took a step back and realize this is, you know, this is not -

Rekka:34:41   As clearly we know at this point that she did not kill Ron.

Kaelyn:34:43   Yes.

Rekka:34:43   Spoilers, everyone, spoilers everyone. He does not die during the wizards chess life-size game at the end of the first book.

Kaelyn:34:51   Um, but that's what that drove her to. And she, she says, I was in a very dark place. I was very frustrated. I was having a really hard time with this and I was going to kill Ron out of spite almost to show them, don't mess with me.

Rekka:35:07   And this was before Twitter, really.

Kaelyn:35:10   Yeah. Could you imagine?

Rekka:35:11   Can you imagine reaching J K Rowling levels of attention on your currently in progress project.

Kaelyn:35:24   In the MySpace era.

Rekka:35:26   Okay, well I'm saying in the Twitter era, like can you imagine that?

Kaelyn:35:29   Oh yeah, no, but I'm saying the MySpace era, um, think of getting to that point when Twitter didn't exist. That's so you can understand the stress. And everything that she must have been under in that case. And I can understand this need to latch out, lash out. Um, but that, that's just an example is writing things just to piss people off is not a good way to respect your readers.

Rekka:35:56   And also writing to try and like, and this is again goes back to the don't read the stuff to try and evade the fan theories will make your story poorer because you were considering the wrong things when you're making your decisions. When I'll use myself as an example, I don't know if I'm going to do a good job, it's not done yet. But in planning out Castoff, third book in my Peridot shift trilogy, I went and I took the outlines of the two books that already existed and I went through them and I said, what, what have you, what have I opened that hasn't been resolved yet? And not only that, but in what order did I open these things? What is the first question that readers get you didn't know and what questions follow those two sort of, you know, in, in terms of like coding. Um, Mary Robinette Kowal talks about this all the time, close your tags in the order that you open them. Um, so inside to outside, you know, if you, if you freeze Han and Carbonite at the end of the second movie, the end of the third movie should not be getting Han out of the Carbonite because that is the wrong, that is the wrong culmination of your storytelling.

Kaelyn:37:13   Well, and there's also levels of immediacy. So if it had been random rebel soldier frozen in carbonate, okay, maybe at the end of the movie you go get him. Yeah. Um, Han gets frozen in Carbonite for Luke and Leia, their number one priority here is going to be, we got to get Han back. Um, now is that fair to the random rebel soldier? No, but maybe he's got friends that will go rescue him instead.

Rekka:37:42   So, um, soldier, you know, I assume he's a leftenant, a Rondo that he gets frozen in Carbonite and the conclusion of the trilogy is they undo the Empire's grip on everybody else. Then getting him out of the Carbonite is undoing that grip. So like that's part of that. That conclusion, but when you make it a main character, it goes deeper than that. So like what you're saying is the level of involvement that the audience has in that character.

Kaelyn:38:10   Yeah. Now there is, there is something kind of glaring that we're overlooking here, which is sad endings to things and - Rekka what are you? Just get ready for castoff everyone.

Rekka:38:29   I'm not saying it because of that. Um, I'm, I'm taking a deep inhale because like it makes me want to blurt out my favorite phrase when it comes to picking your endings, which is surprising yet inevitable.

Kaelyn:38:43   Yes, you should inevitably be surprised.

Rekka:38:47   But in other words, and this, and this encapsulates everything that I was starting to say, is that when you, when I looked in and I found the things that were open-ended and big enough to address, I needed to make sure that however I resolved those individual items or bigger things that resolve multiple items, you know, you think about them in terms of like the size of your storage containers. Like if you can take a big storage container that resolves three smaller storage containers that resolves all three of those. Don't do three oversized containers for two, three small containers. That's confusing, but you know what I'm saying? Like make the conclusion match what it's resolving.

Kaelyn:39:30   I will use the phrase that, I don't remember who said this to me, but like I'm going to get it tattooed on me at some point is that the universe will always be a varying ratio of shocking and inevitable. There's surprise and an it should be surprising and inevitable and people should be able to go back and see how you got there.

Rekka:39:54   Exactly. That's what I was starting to say is that the inevitable part is you set this up as far back as it needs to be to be believable.

Kaelyn:40:04   Yes.

Rekka:40:04   So this is why we talk about putting Checkov's rifle on the mantle and stay in act one. You don't put it on the mantle five minutes before you use it in the end of act three.

Kaelyn:40:17   Yup.

Rekka:40:18   Because that is not satisfying because it is not inevitable. If that rifle solves all the problems that you spent two books setting up your third book is not going to feel satisfying because you know, this is what they call a day of Deus Machina which is machine of God, meaning something, o outlandishly out of the, you know, gets dropped in from the top of the stage. This is going back to the place where -

Kaelyn:40:44   Greek plays, they used to be resolved by a God showed up.

Rekka:40:47   A God showed up and settled all the disputes for everybody because the only he had the power to do and the God and the machine was when records said dropped in.

Kaelyn:40:54   That's exactly because it was a machine that lowered the actor playing the God onto the stage on a rope and a harness. So it wasn't, machines may be a stretch there, but like it was literally a God showed up, altered reality.

Rekka:41:08   There were probably pullies, it's a simplified machine.

Kaelyn:41:09   Yeah. So the um, the idea being, if that doesn't sound like a satisfying conclusion to your book, be careful about not doing that.

Rekka:41:17   And the inevitable part is when you look back after you, after you have been surprised by this ending, you look back and realize, no, that makes sense.

Kaelyn:41:27   That's the way it should've gone.

Rekka:41:29   But you want it not to be the ending they see coming as best possible.

Kaelyn:41:34   Yeah. Um,

Rekka:41:35   I mean, you know that the light side is going to prevail against the dark side because that is does, that's the story.

Kaelyn:41:43   That's the story.

Rekka:41:44   If it wasn't set up that way, if the story was a philosophical will, the light side and the which will win, then you find out and maybe it's the dark side and that could still be the inevitable ending if you set it up that way. But that was not the way the story was set up. This story was set up of watch this kid learn, he's got this power and go defeat the dark side.

Kaelyn:42:07   Yes.

Rekka:42:09   Sometimes in the star Wars trilogies, that's the, that's the plot.

Kaelyn:42:13   Yes. Um, who are a little fixated on star Wars still.

Rekka:42:18   But we said we were going to mention it but um, it's, it's why this question is on our minds because -

Kaelyn:42:28   It's hard to write a satisfying ending to such a grand thing. And grand is really the only word I can come up with to describe something that is so ingrained in our society.

Rekka:42:41   I mean it's beyond just like a phenomenon. It is a culture. So we had, so a lot of people have emotional ties to it that are beyond what come from the emotional story getting.

Kaelyn:42:52   So finishing it, anyway. Finishing your trilogy is, it's a hard thing to do and some people will already know how it ends and hopefully if that's the case, your any changes you make are going to be coming from you rather than what you're reading.

Rekka:43:07   But also there is the possibility that when you started this you saw it going a different way and then as you worked with the publisher there were changes made that opened opportunity to end it in different ways. So it's okay if you don't lock down your ending at the, you know, before your publisher has sent you revision notes. I mean like we're not saying that, but we're saying is that there is a direct yet perhaps, um, a femoral line that leads from the first page of the first book to the last page of the last book.

Kaelyn:43:47   Yeah. It feels like it's one story. You should at the end, your reader should feel like they have read a complete story and I would say that's what you're obligated to write. So that didn't notice, we didn't tell you how to do it. We didn't tell you how to do it. But that is, that is kind of what you owe to your books.

Rekka:44:13   Yeah. And I like it phrased that way better because you know, for some people they are just trying to write the story and their concern is not publishing it ever. There might be beautifully written, beautifully conceived and structured trilogies or Quadrilologies out there that will never see printing because it was just for the writer to get the story out. And that is honestly a great mindset to approach your story from do right by the story first. And the readers who are not trying to take, and I'm hesitant to use this phrase, take ownership of the story and the characters, um, they should be satisfied if the story is served then. So as your reader.

Kaelyn:45:05   Yeah, I completely agree. I think that that's, you know, that's kind of what you should be shooting for in the end there. And it does not have to be a happy ending.

Rekka:45:15   Nope.

Kaelyn:45:15   It has to be satisfying yet it has to answer questions satisfying and surprising. Exactly. So, um, which by the way, I think Rise of Skywalker,

Rekka:45:28   I did have it,

Kaelyn:45:28   I don't know how surprising it was. Um, I kind of knew where we were going to end up. I didn't know how we were going to get there.

Rekka:45:36   And maybe that's the surprise.

Kaelyn:45:38   Yeah.

New Speaker:  45:38   The point is the journey I guess. I guess. So on that, on that rotation olds trait sayings. Yes. On that note. Um, so, you know, I guess you can let us know what you thought about star Wars, but you probably already have told the world on Twitter if you're, if you're likely to voice it.

New Speaker:  45:55   So, but you know what, we, I would be interested to hear, were you satisfied with the ending and to further that question, part B is, were you satisfied with it as a whole of the nine movie Epic versus the more recent three movie trilogy? You know, taking the neutral G as the third in the star Wars guy.

Speaker 1:       46:19   I curse the Skywalker saga. Yeah, it's, it's a, it's a mess. No one's happy about it. All right, so let's, let's go inside. Okay. And, um, forget everything we just talked about for a little while so that I can sleep tonight. Well, so thanks everyone for listening. I'm, you know, hopefully this was interesting. At least I am dead serious by the way. I really would be very curious, ping us and tell us re satisfied with that ending because that's kind of what spawned this episode was definitely was talking about that. All right, so that's that WMB cast on Twitter or Instagram. You can find the back episodes of the podcast@wmbcastdotcomandwewouldloveifyoucanaffordtosupportusatpatrion.com forward slash WMB cast and we will talk to you in two weeks. See, in two weeks, everyone.