How to make a segment in an ongoing story individually satisfying

One distinct advantage to writing a series of books with the assumption that the latest will be the last is that it provides a safeguard to ensure that each is individually satisfying. This was the case with all three of my George Hughes adventures, and the third instalment, George goes to Neptune, provides a definitive ending to the series.

GGTN 1600 x 2400

Conversely, the recent trend in film of either dividing the source text for the sake of greed rather than for any good artistic reason; or being too lazy to come up with a proper ending and instead assuming the audience will attend the next film in the series, drives me mad. Breaking Dawn, Mockingjay and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows are examples of the former trend. Prometheus is another example of the latter. Mind you, the entire screenplay for Prometheus made no sense, so the lack of a proper ending was merely the icing – or lack of it – on a very poorly baked cake.

That isn’t to say the to-be-continued thing can’t work. For example, The Empire Strikes Back features an absolutely first-rate climax and feels wholly satisfying even though it leaves plot threads dangling. In a similar way, dividing The Lord of the Rings into one film per volume made perfect sense.

Ultimately, my approach with the George Hughes series has been akin to the current Marvel movies, with each one being essentially a standalone tale, despite references to earlier subject matter and a post credits sequence to set up the next movie. In the George Hughes series, my short epilogues perform the same function as those post credits sequences.

That said, sequels are notoriously tricky things, especially if they aren’t planned. The idea for George goes to Titan occurred to me after I had written George goes to Mars, but because George goes to Mars felt so complete in its own right, I was reluctant to write it. In fact, it took me six years to finally give in to the nagging voices in my head, urging me to write the sequel.

I was even more surprised to find, at the end of the second book, that the idea for a third cropped up. Again, I wrote an epilogue for the second, this time knowing I wouldn’t wait so long to write the third.

The result is George goes to Neptune – the final book in this series – which will be out on the 25th of October. It can be pre-ordered to download on Kindle from Amazon here. Print copies will be out from the 31st of October.

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