The Soap Opera Gimmick

Photo courtesy of  Lynn Kelley Author

Photo courtesy of Lynn Kelley Author

I used to love watching soap operas. It was addictive and I couldn’t figure out why. I mean, they’re often filled with bad acting and enough melodrama to make you want to hide your face inĀ embarrassmentĀ  Why couldn’t I kick the habit? Then I figured out they have two things going for them: characters that draw you in and they always leave you hanging at the end of the show.

While designing characters that draw you in is a great writing technique, leaving your story hanging at the end can kill future sales. I call that the Soap Opera Gimmick because I want the story to end. Leave me with questions, but, for the love of all that’s writerly, end the story!

Unfortunately, there are a great many self-published authors using this gimmick and doing it badly. I’m sure I’m not alone when I scream, “STOP IT!” Ending your book in the middle of a fight scene or just before the next big fight begins is a gimmick. It’s not good writing.

If you don’t believe you can finish a story and get people to buy the next book, then take a look at series writers like Erin Hunter, author of the Warrior series, or Shirley Rousseau-Murphy, author of the Joe Grey Mysteries. Consider J.K. Rowling’s success with the Harry Potter series. Each of these stories ends, but the reader is left with the need for the next book.

There are ways to succeed in writing a series without resorting to the Soap Opera Gimmick, so please do some work and finish the story. Your readers will thank you.

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