End of the Line: How to Approach the Final Book in a Series

With: Katherine McIntyre

            One of the toughest things about reaching the last book in the series is the daunting task of trying to reach a satisfying conclusion. So many factors come into play—tying together character arcs, the final face off against the antagonist, and the loose plot threads all need resolution.

            The most important part comes before ever hitting the final book. Each book before it offers an opportunity to stack incidents and subtly build the pressure leading to the showdown at the end of the series. While the first book might be more introductory, the closer the series comes to the ending, the higher the stakes need to rise.

            In my Tribal Spirits series, I recently reached book five, the final one. While the series antagonist was a mere mention in the first book, in the second and third ones his cronies continue to challenge the protagonists in worse and worse ways, and by the fourth book he makes an appearance in person. So when I reached the final book, most of the protagonists had a personal axe to grind with the enemy, and all of those mounting issues amplified the emotional tension of their final fight against him.

            Another complicated factor involving series is tying up loose threads. Oftentimes throughout a series, different plot threads begin and stories branch in different directions. However, if a lot of them are left unresolved, the ending will also feel unresolved to the readers. So, it’s important to go through the earlier books and try to begin weaving the loose threads into the fabric of the final book.

            And, last but not least, the character arcs are of paramount importance, especially when you have large casts. If the final book in the series just drops off instead of exploring at least some of what happened to those characters, readers will often feel cheated. After all, they end up with emotional investment in the characters, and when you end a series without exploring the aftermath—even just a little bit—then their investment falls flat.

            All of these different facets might seem daunting when approaching the end of a series, however, if you’ve laid the groundwork, you’ll be in good shape for a satisfying conclusion. 

The sparks of Ally and Drew’s old relationship ignite, but their broken pasts and a final fight against Mackey Kendricks threaten any hope of a future.

After Drew fell in with the Landsliders and destroyed his former pack, forgiveness isn’t something he deserves. However, no matter how hard the Tribe has tried, Mackey Kendricks can’t be stopped. So when they narrow down the vicinity of the monster’s hidden lair, the Tribe calls upon him again, this time for one of the most dangerous hunts—a recon mission to find the exact location.

However, when his former flame Ally signs on as the other member of the team, their attempts at avoiding each other crumble to the ground. No matter how hard they both try and no matter how many times they’ve walked away, the flame has never extinguished between them. This time, Drew’s fought for his redemption, changed for the better, and the relationship that blooms between them, for once, might stand a chance.

All they have to do is survive the fight against the biggest, baddest shifter on the East Coast.

Excerpt:

Thanks, sweetheart.

Ally paused in the middle of brushing her teeth as bile rose in her throat. Sweat pricked her temple and she gagged the peppermint toothpaste into the sink. Mere minutes in Mackey Kendricks’ presence and he haunted her nightmares again and again. And now she was heading out to stalk the beast to his own den.

A knock sounded on her front door.

Ally sagged over her sink, digging her palms into the cool porcelain. She knew who waited on the other side. Her heart lurched in response, a reflex she couldn’t help whenever he was in proximity. If she was going to be spending the next stretch of days up close and personal with Drew Williams, then Ally needed to strap on Kevlar, because he infected her like a computer virus, scrambling her mind and heart every time. The idea that she had gotten tangled up over her ex-boyfriend was cute—their mess traveled down to the roots.

They might’ve kept it a secret from their packs and families, but Drew Williams was her mate.

Ally tugged her freshly highlighted hair back into a ponytail and clapped a hand on her scarred thigh as a reminder. Drew had changed, and so had she. They weren’t the same people they’d been two years ago before she’d dumped him. Before Drew had joined up with the enemy and split their pack apart.

The knock sounded on her door again.

Ally splashed icy water on her face and headed out of the bathroom. Her pulse pounded in double time when she approached. Nerves over the mission, obviously. She was two steps from the door when it creaked open on its own.

“We don’t have the thousand years necessary for you to finish getting ready.” Drew’s droll voice echoed through the house as he strode inside. The familiar tone made her bare her teeth on instinct while her mountain lion lunged in her chest.

“Try an ounce of patience, Williams,” she responded through gritted teeth. “Not even asking for an average amount. An ounce.”

Drew shut the door behind him and turned to face her. A breath hitched in her throat at the full sight of him. Even though he was a bad decision in human form, Drew’s looks placed him in Hollywood territory. He had a jawline sharp enough to slice, an arrogant nose that fit him all too well, and tan skin that glowed like he’d spent days basking in the summer sun even though early spring had just arrived. His hair, long enough to tug, gleamed like molten gold and the wicked arc of his eyebrows complemented his mocking smile.

“Well, we both know I’m not average in anything—even my lack of patience,” Drew drawled, hooking his thumbs through his belt loops. He leaned against the wall.

“Excuse me while I eyeroll myself into a seizure,” Ally shot back. She dipped down to snag her blue tote from beside the couch. Even after living here a couple of months, she thought of this place as Lana’s, not hers. Probably because her bestie’s name was still on the deed—Ally just acted as caretaker for the cheap rent. Besides, any day now, Lana and her fearsome Tribe mate would be returning for a temporary stay to make this house comfortably crowded.

Ally sucked in a breath and made her way to the door. She’d had to argue with Dax for days to take this recon assignment even though the prospect terrified her. But her alpha’s mate, Sierra, was due in less than a month with the first cub or pup between the united Red Rock and Silver Springs packs. Dax needed to be there for the birth of his kid. Ally wouldn’t budge on that one.

“Let’s get this misery tour on the road,” Ally said, flicking off the lights. She followed Drew out to the landing and locked up behind her.

By the time she’d spun around, Drew had slipped his aviators on and sauntered toward his Cadillac. “I’m driving,” he called.

Cocky asshole.

AMAZON