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During the "resolution and closure" phase of a story, can you start a new arc for a possible sequel story, or do you absolutely need to close the story and not leave anything that's not necessary like the beginning of a possible sequel story?

Is it permissible to introduce elements hinting at a potential sequel during the 'resolution and closure' phase of a story, or is it imperative to exclusively focus on tying up loose ends and providing a satisfying conclusion to the current plot without leaving room for a potential sequel?

During the "resolution and closure" phase of a story, I was told that the primary focus should be on tying up loose ends, providing a sense of closure to the current plot, and giving the reader a satisfying conclusion to the story arc they've been following and that it's important to address the main conflicts and character arcs in a way that brings a sense of fulfillment or resolution.

However, I am wondering if it is possible to do more than hint at or leave open-ended elements that could lead into a potential sequel. Can it be done subtly, without overshadowing the current resolution? I want to provide closure to the current story while leaving enough room for potential future developments. I am especially curious about whether we can introduce new threat at that stage, and not just subtly hinting them.

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Hinting at a potential sequel is absolutely fine, but just make sure you don't leave the readers unsatisfied. If you do, then they'll be expecting a sequel. If you're going for traditional-publishing, then if you don't get enough sales on your first book, you might not be able to write any of the other ones. Just make sure that the first book can be a standalone if needed.

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  • Who downvoted the question?
    – Sayaman
    Sep 29, 2023 at 15:32
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Do not end a book in a cliffhanger.

You always want your readers to be satisfied. If the end provides the satisfying resolution that the readers seek, they will look for more books by you. A satisfying closure works better as an incentive to buy more books by the same author than an unsatisfying open end that leaves readers hanging emotionally.

Instead of hinting at a sequel, write a story whose structure makes it possible but not necessary to have a sequel.

There are stories, that commonly don't have sequels. These are stories that recount events that only happen once or are boring to read two times. For example, in the movie Armageddon a group of drillers save Earth from an asteroid on a collision course with our planet. Sure, you could either write a sequel where they do the same thing again (which would be boring) or where you show what else they did in their lives (which would be boring or unrelated and therefore not a sequel).

On the other hand, if you have a detective solving a murder case you can easily have her solve another one.

Thus there are stories that signal their sequels not explicitly but by their story. If the story can be expected to continue beyond the present book, you don't need to signal a sequel. Readers who liked the book will hope for it anyway.

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Sure, it can be signaled. When the Death Star explodes, we are shown quite explicitly that Darth Vader escapes. But that is not mentioned at all in the rest of that movie. It sets up the sequel, however.

At the end of your story, the hero can find new alliances, new respect in their organization, new love, and so on. You can hint that their life as a hero is not over.

At the end of the introductory movie of a new superhero, they are always clearly ready for the next challenge, and we expect a sequel.

So even if there isn't one, you can signal that there should be a sequel. Luke Skywalker's journey as a Jedi is clearly just beginning! Tarzan is clearly the king of the jungle!

You don't (and shouldn't) hint at the next story, just demonstrate that your characters still have the ability to do more, and the battle may be over but the war goes on.

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