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Could this Downer Ending be done well?:

So I've recently began outlining my series, the first book ends with a slight Downer Ending. (Several characters die, a few a forced to leave their homes indefintely) The ending is slightly optimistic for a the few characters though, only it's mainly a 'we're going on an adventure' type thing. The second book introduces several new characters (which will hopefully fill some of the vacancies in the cast) and is mostly optimistic in tone. I don't want people to complete the first book and be so put off by the Downer Ending that they refuse to read the second, how can I avoid this?

Au contraire, if your readers care about your characters enough, they'd be itching to read the next part.

Easily entertained
That sounds more like a Bittersweet Ending than an outright downer, especially if there's a clear hope for the future written in it. And a Bittersweet Ending can make for a hell of a Sequel Hook.
 4 Ars Thaumaturgis, Thu, 21st Feb '13 6:24:40 AM Relationship Status: I've been dreaming of True Love's Kiss
I'm not sure that it is actually an issue, but if it is, perhaps it might help to give a hint of what's to come at the start of the next book.

For example, if you were writing a fantasy tale in which the first set of adventurers all die at the end, albeit having accomplished a part of their task and leaving a means for others to continue, you might have the next group — as yet without their names being given — enter in the final paragraph, find whatever was left by the previous group, and decide to take up the quest.

Yeah, I was actually planning on doing something like that. In the final chapter(s) the characters encounter a few of the characters that would be formally introduced in the second book.

But would it be best to limit any gruesome violence or at least turn it down a bit? Or does it really not matter?

Terracotta Soldier Man
All I can really say without looking at a finished product is: It's all down to the execution (pardon the pun). Try plotting / writing it one way, then the other way, and go with the one that fits best and that you're most comfortable with.

edited 24th Feb '13 7:16:19 PM by Specialist290

 8 Salmon Punch, Wed, 27th Feb '13 12:02:13 PM from Connecticutt, USA
I never asked for this
Bad endings only feel justified in the eyes of the reader if there was absolutely no way they could have been averted. A Diablous Ex Machina is just as bad as Deus Ex Machina, the reader has to feel that the ending was reached logically. Even twist endings are hinted at (usually through subtext and hints) before they rear their heads. Make it a bittersweet ending. Give them some victory that tells the reader "they can rebuild", even if that victory is small and symbollic like a character giving birth to their fist child or something.

If you stomp them into the dirt too hard, people will think it's not a series unless you plaster "FIRST IN THE [title] SERIES!" because the ending will seem so final.

EDIT: I just realized your the same OP from the expy thread. Hello again.

edited 27th Feb '13 12:34:59 PM by SalmonPunch

"You like Castlevania, don't you?"
Greetings again :) But yeah, I just wanted to make sure it didn't sound like an obscenely depressing description (although there's obviously a myriad of things that qualify as Better Than It Sounds)

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Total posts: 9
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