A couple of weeks ago I finished reading Cassandra Clare’s first trilogy in The Mortal Instruments world: City of Bones, City of Ashes, City of Glass. This is a YA fantasy series I had heard good things about, and I wasn’t disappointed.
The thing is there is a second trilogy taking up where the first left off. The first book of the new trilogy has already been released, the second will be out in May of next year, and the third presumably sometime after that. (Clare is also in the middle of a prequel trilogy.) I was pretty satisfied by the first trilogy’s ending, and I really am not a very patient person when it comes to story. If the sequel trilogy were out in its entirety now, I would read it, but since it isn’t, I won’t. I don’ t like being left hanging.
Of course this is no one’s problem but my own. I understand the reasons why trilogies/series are not written to completion before being published in parts.
Still, the Mortal Instruments experience reminds me of reading Dan Simmons’s Hyperion, which for some reason I didn’t know had three more books before the conclusion. Luckily all four books had been published when I read the first one, so I bought the others and saw the story to its end without delay.
I discovered Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy during the release of the second book, The Subtle Knife. I had to wait—impatiently—to read The Amber Spyglass. It was a long, but totally worthwhile, wait.
And then there were the years where Battlestar Galactica (the new one) and Lost were on TV. I remember that period as being a pretty rich one in my life for consuming story.
Of course this Star Wars fan had a really hard time waiting for George Lucas to finish his saga.
Do I even have to mention Harry Potter?
My point is more than a confessed dislike of delayed endings. Besides just being driven mad by the wait, I come up with my own ideas and speculations about what should happen. The more time I wait, the more speculation. A writer who can produce something even better than I imagined is the writer whose story I recommend to everyone I know. In many ways, this puts a heavy burden on a writer to outsmart all those people who, like me, will love the world they’ve been introduced to and love to speculate within it.
I’ve been very pleased with some of the endings I’ve waited for. Not pleased with others. And I can’t help but wonder if my reaction would have been different, in either direction, had I been able to experience the whole story without waiting.
As a writer of YA fantasy and science fiction, I feel the pressure to trilogize/serialize. This scares me because I don’t know that I can write a final chapter better than the composite masterpiece of all my waiting readers.