My Greatest Fear as a Writer

If you spend enough time talking to a writer, or reading their social media, one thing rapidly becomes apparent: we’re a jittery bunch.

Our concerns are myriad and varied… imposter syndrome, fears no-one will buy our book, fears everyone will buy our book, an excess of plot bunnies, writer’s block, and everything in between.

It’s quite the rollercoaster creating worlds for the entertainment of others.

Plot bunnies, cute but deadly to getting stuff done…

But, for me, the concern is something else, something I rarely see others discuss openly, but have had private chats about. Like saying it out loud will somehow call it into being.

What if I don’t stick the landing?

We’ve all had it, the movie which ended up with a damp splat not a boom, or the book which ended with a sigh not a cheer.

NOT how a book should end…

My fear of this came sharply into focus when I read two sets of books from a very popular writer a few years back. Who it is and what the books were don’t really matter. What matters is how it went down.

You see, I picked up the first in a series of books and devoured it. The writing felt fresh, the ideas vibrant, I was hooked. And that first book? Bar a bugbear phrase they used once (it’s “could NOT care less” America, “could care less” makes no sense), which still irks me now, the book was poetry.

So, being me, I bought the rest of that series and another series in the same universe. How could I go wrong?!

But the issues started soon after, the last book in the first series was… just work. Our protagonist kept getting into worse and worse situations, every glimmer of hope was eclipsed by things going wrong. Over and over.

For about 250 pages.

My god.

I love a plot twist, but this degenerated into the world twister championship hosted by the eel juggling contortionist society. Failure followed betrayal followed mistake followed bad plan.


And how did it end? In the last ten pages the author sort of said “Erm, yes, ta da?” and everything was fine, and everyone won, hooray?

I don’t think this is what the writer was going for…

No, no.


No. I’m still feeling down about all the failure and loss which got us here. It just felt flat. A hollow “victory”.

After a few days break, I dove into the trilogy and prepared to mark up the previous series as an oversight.


Same issue. Lots of build up then… phut.

By book two I’d had enough, but pushed on to book three, finished it and wondered who I could write to and get my time back. The ending was the worst thing it could be, boring.

For all the excitement in the stories, the writer just couldn’t build to a satisfying conclusion. Each time I felt like they’d run out of ideas or had spent so long getting to the end of the story, they hadn’t planned what that end would be, aside from a vague “yay”.

So, that’s my greatest fear as a writer; not that I won’t finish a book or people won’t buy it, but that my readers will finish the book and end up feel “oh” not “wow”.

That “oh” scares me.

What about my fellow writers, do you have a greatest fear?

And readers, have you read any books where the failure to stick the landing was especially egregious?

Let me know in the comments!

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