Welcome, dear readers to another edition of Caitlin Considers, a fortnightly discussion post. Today I am discussing the issue of ambiguous endings to series.
Personally, I'm a huge fan of ambiguous endings. I like it when a series is left open to a bit of interpretation, I think it adds another dimension to a series and makes it a bit more personal to the reader as each individual can imagine it ending how they want it to end. It sort of ties in with the idea that a story doesn't live and die with the author but exists as a separate entity from them and is maintained through the readers. With an ambiguous ending, the story extends far beyond the final page, leaving room to speculate and talk about it, and there's less scope to do this when it's all tied up.
But there are downsides. Sometimes we do want closure, and certain series warrant it. I think everyone would've had a MASSIVE paddy if the ending of Harry Potter had been open. Plus with an ambiguous ending, there's always the possibility of coming back and writing more, which not everyone wants to do (like Rowling). Some authors like to put a line under a book/series and call it DONE which you can't do with an ambiguous ending. Sometimes an ending you imagine doesn't feel as REAL as if the author had written one.
A big problem with them is how far to go. How much do you tie up? What gets left unanswered? You don't want to piss off your readership by having a series that looks unfinished, that's just frustrating. But you have to leave enough that it can be classified as ambiguous. It has to be tantilising, but not feel as though you just couldn't be bothered to create a good ending.
How do you feel about ambiguous endings? Are they something you enjoy or do you resent them? Can you recommend me any good books/series that have them? How do you think they work best?