Thursday, August 25, 2011

Trilogies and Double Rainbows

Since I'm currently working on the second of three Hemlock books, I thought I'd take a crack at endings and how they function within a trilogy.

In 1989, a sci-fi movie called Millennium was released. It had a complicated plot involving time travel and plane crashes and really bad 80s hair, and I probably would have forgotten all about it had it not been for the movie’s last line:

It is not the end. It is not the beginning of the end. It is the end of the beginning.”

That line crept into my mind and lurked there. It’s actually one of three lines about endings that I sometimes find myself randomly turning over when my mind wanders. There other two are: “There are no happy endings, because nothing ends,” from The Last Unicorn and “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end,” from the song “Closing Time” by Semisonic*.

Though I think they’re excellent quotes when pondering the end of any novel, I think they’re especially pertinent to endings within a trilogy (which is what I’m in the middle of writing).

Fact: A trilogy is like a double rainbow.

A: Because trilogies are awesome and B: Because trilogies have two arcs.

See? Just like a double rainbow!

With trilogies, the endings of the first two books can get complicated. You have to provide a satisfying conclusion to the arc of each book, but you also have to move towards an overreaching arc for the trilogy as a whole and plant something in those endings that will make the reader want to continue on. That something can be small (Katniss dreading the moment she’ll have to let go of Peeta’s hand in The Hunger Games) or large (the ending of Divergent) but it should be present.

Let’s go back to that Millennium quote and compare it to The Hunger Games. The last page of the first book may feel like the end of the story, but it’s really just the end of the beginning. It’s the smaller rainbow inside the bigger one.

What? Who doesn’t like rainbows?

* Don’t judge. I was a college student in the late 90s. Everyone was singing that song.
Picture of double rainbow courtesy of the fab Jodi Meadows who has an incredible post about beginnings over on her own blog.


Kathleen Peacock is a semi-reformed vampire addict and unapologetic geek who has taken to writing about werewolves. Her debut, HEMLOCK, will be published by Katherine Tegen Books, an imprint of HarperCollins, in Summer 2012. Visit her website at


  1. Wow!!! This should be printed on the contract of every writer who signs for a trilogy, because it's SO important! A great author will make those arcs flow effortlessly, but as you've just pointed out, it's a very complex process.