Considering the Marvel film Deadpool II we open up with Deadpool detonating himself on a warehouse full of explosives, and then he tells the story on how we got there. That was one "book," however, and we know that works well.

Now my series ends with somewhat of a clash of the titans action scene, and I though of putting these biggies at the climax as an opener. The problem is, no one knows they are "biggies" until you read the first two books. The action is amazing and all, but you did nothing yet to develop them. It's just an epic conflict and in a quick dialogue, you feel equally pulled toward wanting each to win. Now, the first book develops one character almost exclusively. The second book develops the second character. The third puts their mores and needs in direct conflict, and brings the series to a close.

I am concerned about leaving at least the first book with a dry ending. It has a good conflict and resolution by its own right, but it only brings hints of the bigger story along, leaving the finale dangling.

One really bad execution of this makes me concerned. A TV series called Manifest opened with a passenger plane vanishing for 5 years, only to land in New York with no one aged at all, or having any idea that they were gone. They dragged this series on for three years and it got canceled. Not only did they not revel where the plane went, they simply piled on more plot devices in every possible direction. So, Manifest has many problems besides the interminable mystery, but for my question here; is it a mistake to tease your series finale in book 1 of 3?

As it stands I have a couple versions of the open lined up, but the finale is amazing in my opinion. I plan on leaving them on a cliff already, is that cliff too high?

1 Answer 1


The reason the Deadpool opening "works" is because it is NOT the first movie. We are already familiar with the Universe, and Deadpool himself, and are not that surprised he can do this. Heck, he's immmortal, he might be doing this for entertainment.

It is usually a mistake to open a first book with a finale, because the finale doesn't make any sense to the readers. They don't know any of the characters involved, if they are good guys or bad guys, or anything else.

The only exception I can think of is something with basically no characters, and the Earth exploding.

Friendly voice: "Okay, this happened."

The Earth explodes.

"But it's not as bad as it looks! Let me explain. Okay, it's not good, but let me start at the beginning."

Other than something like that, I think you very much need to focus on finding a big finale for the first book. If you are using a traditional publisher, they won't publish a lame ending, no matter how much you promise, even if you have the 2nd and 3rd books ready. They aren't going to print them. The business model is conservative, they want to sell the first book, and if and only if that sells well and they make a good profit are they going to publish the second book. Period.

You must engineer your story so the first book has all three acts, including a good finale, even if it is truly only the first act of a larger story.

If you are self-publishing, you can do what you want, but readers still want the first book to have a finale. Otherwise, go ahead and write your 1000 page novel and publish it (digitally) all at once for the price of a novel. I think there is some market for long novels that is ignored by most publishers, unless you are already a bestselling author (like Stephen King) whose name alone will sell books of any length (like The Stand).

The basic rule of series, in movies or books, is that if readers think the first installment of an unknown author ends lame, most of them won't buy the second installment. They will look for something else.

  • Adams’ opening was revolutionary and intended to be so, but it really wasn’t the ending of the… trilogy. I think a better example is Star Wars’ star destroyer capturing the rebellion courrier. Lucas took three movies to explain the scene (though the movie numbers disagreed with their release dates). A New Hope stood alone but opened a universe of questions about the titled war itself: “Why is evil guy after Luke?” Somehow no one blinked at the danglers in Episode IV
    – Vogon Poet
    Mar 15, 2022 at 20:18
  • I think my advice is more that you cannot end the first book of a trilogy with a lackluster ending. You can certainly leave with some new questions, perhaps, but the primary conflict presented in the book must be resolved. Like Star Wars IV, the first movie we saw, resolved the main problem: The Death Star. Han Solo, who Luke thought was leaving, shows up in the nick of time to save Luke by blowing Vader's X-wing off spinning while Luke "trusts the force", fires by instinct and blow up the Death Star. A big finish, victory, Luke is a true Jedi Knight! But this would be meaningless (cont)
    – Amadeus
    Mar 15, 2022 at 21:39
  • (cont) if we did not know Han Solo's self-centered mercenary nature and Luke's journey to control himself and his powers. Flashy but meaningless, and would rob the actual ending of all suspense. Star Wars IV is self-contained, but with Vader spinning off into space, there is an open question and obvious sequel; what happens now if Vader is clearly not dead? I don't think you could end SW-IV with Luke & Leia rescued by Hans, escaping on the Millennium Falcon and living in a cabln on some world. You need a villain to decisively defeat, or like SW-IV at least temporarily decisively defeat.
    – Amadeus
    Mar 15, 2022 at 21:54
  • I guess that paints part of the answer: resolve the “primary conflict” but additional conflicts can be opened up. No one notices that IV is titled “Star Wars” yet the war itself never gets explained until I, II, and III come out years later. “Why war?” gets a hand wave. But it was melodrama, and a “white hat/black hat” dichotomy doesn’t need a story. I had no plans to blunt the Vol I ending, just leave a cliffhanger. Antihero spins off in a tie fighter-ish. You seem opposed to the scheme? There is a temp defeat: Antihero was the key to the evil plot, so, foiled - for now.
    – Vogon Poet
    Mar 15, 2022 at 23:32
  • 1
    Your example instantly made me think of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
    – Murphy L.
    Mar 15, 2022 at 23:46

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