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I wrote a sci-fi novel. It's around 120k words long with a neat 'ending' that wraps up the main plot. The story is not complete: Although the main goal has been accomplished, a lot of smaller issues have not been resolved. I had planned to include them in the second book. However, I'm wondering if this could cause a lack of closure among readers. If I write my story longer, it'll be above the average word count for sci-fi, but the story would be complete. The story overall would also end up shorter since everything that would have gone to the next book would be pressed into the first one, leaving out less significant parts.

What do you guys think? Limit the story to one book and make it really long, or write two books of which the first has unresolved issues and unanswered mysteries?

Thank you in advance :)

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    How prominent are these unsolved issues in the story? (e.g. how much of the plot do the drive, or how often are the repeated and brought up? Are they mentioned casually in passing, or do your characters obsess over them?) How much implication do you give that they might be solved in the book? Finally, what do your Beta Readers think? (Ask them after they give you feedback, don't accidentally "prime" them to look for unsolved mysteries) If the first question they all ask is "but, what happened about X?", that's a big hint that you need more closure. – Chronocidal Jul 6 at 12:07
  • @Chronocidal Well, the main plot is explained (why stuff happened and how it was resolved) but little things that came up couldn't be faced by the main characters since they were 'busy' with the main plot. So they weren't obsessed with it, but some were mentioned a couple of times... Also, I haven't found Beta readers yet, sadly... I don't know many people who like reading (People I'm close to), and this is my first novel, so I don't have contacts to people who write or read. – Ace Jul 6 at 12:53
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    @Ace, take a look at these - 1 and 2 – ArtickokeAndAnchovyPizzaMonica Jul 6 at 13:01
  • Hi @Ace. This is an interesting question. The way the question is presented might lead to a reviewer like myself nominating it as "likely to elicit responses that are opinion-based", or "asking what to write." Maybe you could reframe it as a "How do I..." or "Is there a basis for choosing between" question? – rolfedh Jul 6 at 16:18
  • My recommendation is the publish the shorter first novel. Publishers are more likely to accept a shorter manuscript than a longer one. Make it clear that this is the first in a series. This approach also gives you more time to build your reader community and get feedback for the second novel. – rolfedh Jul 6 at 16:25
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If you are doing a series, you want there to be (partially) unanswered questions still open at the end of each book, along with the promise that at least some of those answers will be supplied in the next book. The trick is to make each book worthwhile in its own right. That is, the purchase and consumption of the book was not a waste of time for the reader.

On the other hand, you do not want to surprise the reader with material, characters, and plot in the later instances of the series that were not at least foreshadowed in earlier instances. For example, cue the super-powerful villain who has committed evil for decades, represents the protagonist's antagonist in the latest book, and was not even hinted at in any of the earlier books. Especially, if it is obvious that the writer needed to dig their way out of a plot hole.

The ideal here would be to establish a rich context for the story in terms of economics, law, politics, culture, science, technology and make it clear that the story told in each book is just one of many stories taking place against that context. The context does not have to be super detailed. For example, we introduce our villain of the moment, a proud graduate of the prestigious University of Villainy, and current treasurer of The Club of Nastiness. And before you exhaust yourself, hating this villain, note that, if this villain stumbles (or is pushed) off the cliff, the economic and historical situation of our story is such that another villain of much the same demeanor will be forced into existence.

If you are honest with your readers and they understand that this is a series and each book will provide some, but not all, of the story, and the part that you do provide is worthwhile, I think that you will be OK.

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  • @jonsonecash Thank you so much <3 that was very helpful. I appreciate your answer :) – Ace Jul 6 at 13:59
  • T'would be nice if it were marked as "The Answer". Thx. – JonStonecash Jul 6 at 17:11
  • Yeah sorry I just used Stackexchange for the first time ^^ – Ace Jul 6 at 18:18

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