Lynne Stringer – Author & Editor

Traditionally, I have received the impression that in most trilogies the second book is the weakest link. I have certainly read some books where this is a problem. This was one of the reasons why I was nervous about the response to the second book in the Verindon trilogy, The Crown, which is now available.

However, I now have another fear building.

In my journeys through various sci-fi, fantasy and dystopian fandoms, it seems that lately, in the book world, it is the third book that has been the most disappointing. The Hunger Games and Divergent are two examples which immediately spring to mind. Most fans liked the third and final book the least of all three in the series. Some were vitriolic in their opinions of them.

Why is this? I think it’s because the fans have built up in their minds an expectation of what will happen. Until the final installment in a series, there’s always the chance that what they expect will still happen. With the final one, the series ties up, and I think it’s sometimes in a way that they don’t like or didn’t anticipate, at least. Could this be a sign of author failure? Should the final novel in a series be a natural extension of the series that anyone can anticipate if the book is written well? Or is it a sign of genius: the author managed to do something that no one anticipated. I think it depends on the individual author.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t worried. While I think the third and final book in my series takes the characters out in a strong way and is true to my vision for the overall story, will the reader agree with me? Does it matter if they don’t agree with me? Some of us might like to think it doesn’t matter, but I think it does, to me, anyway. I’m sure it definitely matters to my publisher, especially if a weak ending influences sales.

So should I be happy because I have written a trilogy that satisfies my vision for the story, even if it disappoints readers? Or should the readers’ responses be my primary concern? What do you think?




Facebook Comments

3 Responses

  1. Hi Lynne

    This is a burning question for me too. I’m currently half-way through writing the third of my trilogy and I know I’m taking it in a direction that my (future & beta) readers are unlikely to predict. Seeing the reaction to Allegiant sent chills up my spine. However, to write it any other way would be not be true to my vision of this story (not to mention that it would totally invalidate the first book of the next trilogy which I have already written).

    As authors we do need to take into account our audience – yet how can we not be true to our own vision of the story? It is this vision that made the first couple of books what they were in the first place. So in the end, I continue to write it the way the story demands and hope my readers are as moved by the ending as I am.

    1. There were more problems in Allegiant that just the ending, though. The whole book seemed below the standard of the first two, although the ending certainly didn’t help that! It is a worry, but I’m doing the same thing as you, Jeanette.

      1. Hi Lynne

        I’m looking forward to seeing where you take the story 🙂

        As for the other problems – I have heard a couple authors mention the pressure to produce books in a sequel by a certain deadline (while probably doing edits on the earlier books). An author may have taken years to write the first book and get it polished but then find that they have only months to produce the next one or the one after that. That might in turn affect the quality of the writing. Sometimes good books need a little time to brew.