It doesn’t always happen. There are a few actors today who play the same old, tired character with each new role. I can close my eyes and imagine the boring reactions before they even happen. Those actors haven’t reached the point where they can be someone different in each role.
The same scenario plays out in books. Are your characters just a different name and setting in a similar format? Or have you given each of them fresh personalities, fresh situations? Readers expect something new with each book they read. Even a formulaic romance had better deliver a novel read—no pun intended.
At the end of each book, we lose our hero. He lives on only in our imaginations, but he had better be good enough that your readers will continue to think about him, wonder what happens to him, care whether or not his decisions are brought to fruition. Did Rhett ever come back? Was tomorrow a success at reclaiming love? Anyone who’s read Gone With the Wind wonders long after the last page whether or not the romance will be a success. I, for one, have never forgiven Margaret Mitchell for not writing the sequel. I was so invested in the story that I think today about how they might have arrived at a different ending. How about you?
It’s important for us to be able to let go of our heroes, but hopefully our readers will continue to long for a different ending, a prolonged ending, a sequel because they simply can’t say good-bye to new best friends.
Our true life heroes have to leave at some point, but your characters can live on indefinitely. Give them a life to be proud of. One that will be revisited time and again.