When to End a Series by Kassandra Lamb
For the second time in my writing career, I’m facing the decision of when to end a series. It’s a bittersweet experience. An author’s characters feel very much like real people to us.
It’s always tough to decide just when and where to end things. The why, however, is usually a combination of running out of story ideas for the series’ characters, and/or the main character(s) have completed something we authors call a character arc. Just like in real life, characters should ideally grow and change, learn about themselves, heal old wounds and become emotionally stronger as a result.
In the case of my current protagonist, service dog trainer Marcia Banks started out with a significant neurosis regarding commitment, as a result of a short and disastrous marriage. In Book 1, To Kill A Labrador (no dogs die), she meets an attractive local sheriff and finds certain feelings and sensations stirring. For the rest of the series, an ongoing subplot is her struggle to overcome her phobia—a struggle that produces both serious and humorous moments. Initially, she stutters a lot when she tries to say words like “love” and “marriage,” and especially “ch-ch-children.”
Marcia also has a tendency to be snarky, which she tries to control by thinking of her snarky side as a separate persona—whom she dubs Ms. Snark somewhere around Book 3. Her goal is to keep Ms. Snark in check and only allow her to make her snarky comments inside her own head. This backfires a bit as Ms. Snark subjects her to a running commentary on her life.
And of course, what leads her into her sleuthing activities is her tendency to rush in to right wrongs. This is both her greatest strength and her biggest flaw, because she doesn’t always think through the risks. She can’t help herself. When she sees something going wrong in someone’s life—whether it be a friend, neighbor or one of her veteran clients for whom she trains the dogs—she has to try to set it right.
She’s gotten a little better in this area over the course of the series, but still has a few lessons to learn about consequences, which will be dealt with in the last full-length novel in the series, To Bark or Not to Bark (not written yet).
Then the arc will be completed and the series will have come to its natural end. Marcia’s other issues either came to a head or were moving toward resolution in Book 11, One Flew over the Chow-Chow’s Nest, which just came out this summer.
So it’s time for me to prepare myself for the bittersweet departure of Marcia and her entourage of supporting characters (some of them four-legged) from my life. It feels much like having a neighbor, who’s been a good friend as well, announce that they’re moving across the country. You want to wish them well, but it’s hard to let go, and you know you’ll really miss them.
But the sweet part of the bittersweet is the feeling of accomplishment. I’ve successfully pulled off that character arc over the course of 12 books! That’s particularly gratifying to me because I’m a pantser…I write by the seat of my pants. So I never quite know exactly where my muse will take me and my characters, and I’m quite relieved when they end up in a good place.
That makes it easier to decide when to end a series, and to let go, knowing that I’ve helped someone become a better, happier person, even if she is a figment of my imagination. 😉
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In her youth, Kassandra Lamb had two great passions—psychology and writing. Advised that writers need day jobs—and being partial to eating—she studied psychology. Her career as a psychotherapist and college professor taught her much about the dark side of human nature, but also much about resilience, perseverance, and the healing power of laughter. Now retired, she spends most of her time in an alternate universe populated by her fictional characters. The portal to this universe (aka her computer) is located in North Central Florida where her husband and dog catch occasional glimpses of her.
BOOKBUB PROFILE: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/kassandra-lamb
AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE: http://www.amazon.com/Kassandra-Lamb/e/B006NB5WAI/
One Flew Over the Chow-Chow’s Nest
As the world moves toward normal, service dog trainer Marcia Banks can finally schedule the human phase of training with her Air Force pilot client, only to discover he’s been in a psychiatric hospital for months, with no one allowed to visit. Then suddenly he’s discharged…and his private plane crashes two days later.
While investigating what happened, Marcia uncovers potential fraud against the Veterans’ Administration. But who’s behind it, and did they sabotage her client’s plane? And just how determined are they to silence Marcia?
AMAZON US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B094SWRH25
APPLE US: https://books.apple.com/us/book/id1567284573
GOOGLE PLAY: https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=1RYuEAAAQBAJ