Writing the End of a Series
A few weeks ago, I wrote the last words of the Coach Dave series of books. Coach Dave Season Five: The Next Level has already gone through its first edit. Even as I start the next set of revisions, I confess that I am having a hard time letting go. It’s not quite the same as that room in the middle of our house that is finally clean because Older Brother went back to college last week, but, still, I’m new at this whole writing the end of a series thing. I also confess that it is emotional for me to bring this world that I have created to a close.
- Did I do justice to Coach Dave’s character? Coach Dave is the youth baseball coach who cares more about who his players are becoming than what they are becoming on the field. Does his trajectory throughout the series take him to what I hope is a natural but surprising place by its end?
- What about Coach Dave’s student assistant, Kevin Forsythe? With no father present in his life, will his multitude of father figures make the impact in his life that they hope?
- What will become of antagonist Fletcher Brandt, the win-at-all-costs coach at the beginning of the series who undergoes enormous personal pressure throughout the ensuing seasons? What about his son Hunter, who has been caught in the middle of his dad’s and Coach Dave’s leadership styles? The end of a series of clashing baseball styles wouldn’t be complete without their clash in philosophies coming to a head.
- Will we learn more of the mystery scout who shows up in Season Four?
- And Rob–he’s the narrator’s son who has been an overshadowed catalyst for change in Southburg. Will he see the fruits of his family’s investment in the team?
A singular challenge in writing the end of a series is actually two-fold :
- To bring the series to a logical conclusion.
- To do it in a unique way that is, at the same time, believable and unique.
The conventions of the sports novel call for the big game and a crucial situation that the protagonist must face to learn and grow. As one of my readers so adeptly noted early in the series, the team is my protagonist. However, the team is made up of individuals who face crises of their own, each of which must be resolved. Each character’s resolution calls for “logical, believable, and unique.”
Another challenge in writing the end of a series is simply saying goodbye. Along about book three of the series, I felt like my role in the series changed. During books one and two, I was creating a world and the characters within them. Somewhere in the middle of writing book three, the characters that I had created took over and began to lead me toward where they wanted to go. I never expected that to happen, and my characters’ taking on lives beyond what I had planned for them has been the greatest joy of writing the Coach Dave series.
But now the time has come to say goodbye. The game has to be played, a championship won or lost. The point of the series is that the games are only a part of what young men learn through sports about becoming men, so there had to be more than a big game. I felt compelled to step into the future a bit and discover what happens to the players, their dads, and Coach Dave. That helped bring a bit of closure to the end of the series…to me and, hopefully, to my readers.
Robert Frost once said that if there are no tears in the writer, then there will be no tears in the reader. Tears in the writer…check. Tears in the reader…coming in October.
Al Ainsworth is the author of seven books: