The author, like so many of my young writers, envisions his story as a multiple-volume series. That's a fine goal, but sometimes it's difficult for an author to know how and when to wrap up the first book: the epic they envision isn't done yet! How do you make a continuing story satisfying for a reader as a stand-alone story, AND leave enough unfinished business to make them eager for Book Two?
Of course, the secret is to have one conflict that spans the entire series, and other, smaller conflicts that wrap up within each book. Sounds easy, but it isn't. In today's novel, the author builds the story to the final climax: a battle in which the shadow forces manage to gain possession of an object of power previously held by the good guys. "We're doomed, thought the king" is the final line of the final chapter. (The king is not the main protagonist.)
Then comes the epilogue, where we are returned to the POV of the main protagonist, who is on another leg of the quest and not at the battle. He's been captured by slave traders. Once the scene is set (in 3 paragraphs), the author goes straight into dialogue, which keeps the scene immediate and puts the reader back into the thoughts and actions of the hero, who is tied up in the back of the slave trader's wagon with his friend Nick: "Nick just sat there with his head bowed. This was unusual for Nick. Normally he was the one trying to come up with an escape plan.
Maybe he already had.
And then again, maybe he hadn't."
Humor, wit, voice. We're there with the hero and his sidekick, rattling off in the wagon as he ponders whether they will be saved and the object of power retrieved.
"These questions raced through my mind, and the one sure answer that came to me was: Definitely not anytime soon."
And, just like that, I can't wait to read Book 2.
Photo courtesy jdurham/MorgueFile.com