Before I started writing books, I used to read what many people might consider to be an unhealthy amount of books. Don’t worry, I got rid of those people and kept the books.
Actually, maybe only partially joking.
As readers, we all like something different. For me, I find that I truly love a book when I can connect with the characters in the story. The storyline can be amazing, the subject matter can be intense, or there can be some totally unexpected plot twist that makes for a great read, but if I can’t connect with the characters, it just won’t matter.
I’ve read all sorts of books — some that were standalone novels not in a series, some that were standalone novels within a series, and some that were not standalones and were part of series.
Here’s what I’ve learned about myself as a reader, speaking specifically of romance novels:
1. Books that are part of a series that are not standalones are ok, but not really my thing. I’m not a fan of the cliffhanger, particularly if I’m waiting months for the rest of the story to be told. I find myself feeling disappointed and unfulfilled that a couple’s story is left untold. There are some really great stories that have been told this way, but for me, I need to wait until the books are all released before I dive in. To those of you who don’t mind this and/or actually prefer it, I commend you. You are much stronger than I.
2. When it comes to standalone novels that are not in a series, I’m really hesitant. I’ve read some of these that were absolutely amazing stories. Some of the most brilliant writing has happened in these books, but I still feel disappointed. Why? Because it’s done. The end. Never coming back. I just hate connecting with characters that much and never knowing what happens to them next. Think of your favorite TV show. What if there was only one captivating and compelling season and it just stopped after that? I know this has happened before and so many people become outraged. It’s kind of the same thing for me with standalone novels not in a series.
3. Interconnected standalone novels in a series. This is my jam. One book to tell the story of the main characters, but a series to make sure I can still be with them for a few more reads. I’m an emotional reader; I can’t just connect to them and be done. I also don’t want to not get their full story in one sitting. Interconnected standalones are the perfect solution. I don’t have to say good-bye and I can feel fulfilled in knowing that I’ve been given the basis for their love story in one book.
So, what does this mean for me as a writer?
It’s simple. I’ll NEVER write ‘The End.’ Unless I decide that I’m no longer going to write books, you can rest assured that it’s not coming from me.
Here’s the thing —
As a reader of other authors’ work, I grew attached to characters. Can you imagine the connection I feel to my own characters?
My third novel, Everything I Want, is set to release in just over two weeks. The Everything Series is a tetralogy. This means there will be a total of four books in the series. When Everything I Want releases on October 10th, that’ll mean I’ve only got one left to complete the series. I haven’t written ‘The End’ on the first three books.
Will I do it after the fourth is written?
There will be an epilogue that I’m certain will close out the series rather nicely, but it still won’t be ‘The End.’
As you may already know, earlier this week I finished writing my fourth novel. It’s the first book in my new series that I expect to release this winter. This book is Elle and Levi’s story. If you’ve read the first two books in the Everything Series, you’ve already met these two characters. Elle is Wes’ sister and she made her first appearance in my debut novel, Everything I Need. You’ve also seen her in Zane and Emme’s story, Everything I Have, which is where Zane’s brother, Levi, is introduced.
It would have been impossible for me to write Levi and Elle’s story and not have appearances by Zane and Wes, at minimum.
The same will be the case when I get to the second book in the new series. You’ll get appearances from characters in previously written books. Sure, I’ve told their love story, but they didn’t die when the book was finished. They are still living their lives. I like that I’ll be able to give my readers little updates on them as I continue to write and I hope it’s something my readers will come to appreciate as time goes on.
So, there you have it. The reason I’m certain I’ll never write those two little words. Two little, yet very powerful words.
Possibly never to be discussed again?
I can’t. I’m sorry, but I just can’t do it.