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General Chat - anything Goes > A rant about cliffhangers/incomplete novels

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message 1: by Toria (new)

Toria Lyons | 8 comments Does anyone else get utterly sick to the back teeth of so-called 'cliffhangers'? Am I the only one who gets to the end of a novel and goes 'is that all?'

I had a rant about this on my blog/Twitter the other day, but as that's like shouting into the void, I thought I should ask here whether I'm overreacting.

Is it that people are using cliffhangers incorrectly?

(If anyone thinks this is a topic worth discussing, I'll continue/elucidate...)


message 2: by David (new)

David Staniforth (davidstaniforth) | 7939 comments For me, a cliff-hanger is alright so long as enough elements of the story have reached a satisfactory conclusion.


Vanessa (aka Dumbo) (vanessaakadumbo) | 8703 comments I don't like them in a first book as it's just a way to get you to buy the next. But in an established series of books where you've got to know the characters and have invested some time in reading them, then I don't mind so much as I would have bought the next book anyway. I like the anticipation then of whether a character lives or dies or not knowing what's in store for them.


message 4: by Pavan (new)

Pavan Kaur (pavankaur) | 5 comments I like cliffhangers but they have to be done right, there are some stories that leave it on a cliffhanger but don't even come to an end on other parts of the story. Finish the reason the story was written to start with, then leave it on a cliffhanger so that the next book as a story too


message 5: by Toria (new)

Toria Lyons | 8 comments Yep.

I actually read a comment the other day from an author who said she'd 'just decided to leave it there and start a new book'.

What?

No resolution, no tying up of loose ends, just deciding the 'book' was long enough, and that it was time to start a new one.


Gingerlily - The Full Wild | 36808 comments Someone who does that should be hung, drawn and quartered. Then slowly roasted over a fire.


message 7: by Belle (new)

Belle Blackburn | 29 comments I stand accused. The primary focus of my book was resolved (who killed her father) but another issue opened up. It is taking a whole other book to resolve that issue so I had to end it with "to be continued." I just didn't see any other way.


message 8: by Pavan (new)

Pavan Kaur (pavankaur) | 5 comments Belle wrote: "I stand accused. The primary focus of my book was resolved (who killed her father) but another issue opened up. It is taking a whole other book to resolve that issue so I had to end it with "to b..."

I like book like that, the primary focus of the book was resolved, so I don't mind cliffhangers at the end because the next book will have a new focus to it.
My story is the same. xx


Patti (baconater) (goldengreene) | 61757 comments Cliffhangers suck the big one. If you want me to read the next book in your series, make me fall in love with your characters and ache to know what happens next. Piss me off with improper resolutions and I'll never read another word you write.


message 10: by Toria (new)

Toria Lyons | 8 comments Gingerlily - Elephant Philosopher wrote: "Someone who does that should be hung, drawn and quartered. Then slowly roasted over a fire."

I think my reaction was similar, except loaded with more expletives. And involved heading to Amazon to leave a 1* review as warning to other prospective readers.

(Overreact? Moi?)


Desley (Cat fosterer) (booktigger) | 11195 comments Belle wrote: "I stand accused. The primary focus of my book was resolved (who killed her father) but another issue opened up. It is taking a whole other book to resolve that issue so I had to end it with "to b..."

That's fair enough.

I've just finished a James Patterson book that I nearly didn't read as reviews said it ended 'incomplete '. It did really annoy me and not sure if I'll read the next


message 12: by Tim (new)

Tim | 9478 comments Checks Amazon . . . phew. Anyhow, it isn't a cliff, more a steep hill! And I resolved the big issue (although you might not like how), and set up an even bigger one


message 13: by Darren (new)

Darren Humphries (darrenhf) | 6980 comments Not really feeling the love for the cliffhangers.


message 14: by Sadie (new)

Sadie Forsythe I generally HATE them! But I save a special piece of my ire of <100 page novellas that aren't so much cliffhangers (which really require reaching some sort of conclusion or stopping point) as the first couple chapters of a longer work, thereby forcing the reader to buy the next installment and then the next and then the next to get a conclusion. And I often think the author doesn't have an ending in mind, so much as they're just cranking out moneymaking chunk after moneymaking chunk. I have marked more than a few author off of my reading list for doing this. Seriously, I hate it.


message 15: by David (new)

David Manuel | 1147 comments Well, I thought it worked for Lord of the Rings. That said, I agree with Patti. If you read more than one of my series, I hope it's because you liked the character and writing enough to keep reading. Leaving unresolved plot elements would bother me the writer as much as the reader.


G J (Gaff to my friends) Reilly | 1901 comments Has anyone read Game of Thrones? Does anyone know if that'll ever end? Only, it seems to be doing alright in the charts.


Gingerlily - The Full Wild | 36808 comments I gave up on the Wheel of Time after book seven because it just would not end. Haven't started Game of Thrones.


message 18: by Stuart (new)

Stuart Ayris (stuayris) | 2668 comments I was going to comment on this thread but then...

(the end)


message 19: by Tim (new)

Tim | 9478 comments There was a slight glint on the blade of the rusty old axe as he raised it above his head, ready to strike...

(Part 3 coming soon)


message 20: by Will (new)

Will Once (willonce) | 4053 comments I think it's an ebook tactic. I've seen several "how to" books which recommend we write books in series with the first one priced at 99 cents or free.

I guess some people might be tempted to take that approach too far, with the first book being little more than an introduction.

I'd park this one in the same category as the very short ebook. There are a rash of non fiction "books" at less than 50 pages, especially "how to" and recipe books.

The ebook market is still developing. These tactics work at the moment, but could easily be overplayed. Expect a backlash once readers start getting fed up with the games and tactics.


message 21: by Joo (new)

Joo (jooo) | 1636 comments A series has to have a commonality or an overarching arc (???)
But as long as each book resolves what it starts with, then that's OK.
The Time Hunters is a 5 part series with part 5 imminent (hurry up Carl), but each book is practically a stand-alone adventure with a hint at the end of what the next adventure might be. That type of cliff-hanger is fine for me.

Not finding out whodunnit is not OK for me.


Patti (baconater) (goldengreene) | 61757 comments Will wrote: "I think it's an ebook tactic. I've seen several "how to" books which recommend we write books in series with the first one priced at 99 cents or free.

I guess some people might be tempted to take..."


I've been fed up with it for a while now.


message 23: by Darren (new)

Darren Humphries (darrenhf) | 6980 comments Or just generally fed up, Patti.


message 24: by Will (new)

Will Once (willonce) | 4053 comments I think it will settle down. We're still in gold-rush mode for ebooks. Before too long readers will get wise to these tricks and will stop buying the cliff-hangers that are too cynical.


message 25: by David (new)

David Hadley | 4873 comments I'll tell you what I think in my next post.




Maybe.


Patti (baconater) (goldengreene) | 61757 comments Darren wrote: "Or just generally fed up, Patti."

That too.


message 27: by Stephen (new)

Stephen Leatherdale | 5 comments Stuart wrote: "I was going to comment on this thread but then...

(the end)"


He shoots and he scores.


message 28: by B J (new)

B J Burton (bjburton) | 2914 comments A series of stand-alone novels involving the same well-drawn, well-liked characters is a treat. What should be one novel, but published as a serial in the form of a number of episodes, each ending with a 'cliff-hanger' is an irritation as far as I'm concerned.


message 29: by Anita (new)

Anita | 3758 comments Gingerlily - Elephant Philosopher wrote: "I gave up on the Wheel of Time after book seven because it just would not end. Haven't started Game of Thrones."

I did the same with the wheel of time GL but with Game of Thrones I did only the first 4 books before I felt he rambled on too much and with no end in sight it became tedious.
I am not overly fond of cliffhangers.


message 30: by Kath (new)

Kath Middleton | 25063 comments Barry has nailed it. That's my comment, right there!


message 31: by David (new)

David Hadley | 4873 comments Cliffhangers to me often seem more about marketing than storytelling.

If they are done purely to get me to buy the next book, then I won't.

My current one, which I am just finishing up, is intended as part of a series.

The story does end - satisfactorily, I hope.

But there are several loose threads left dangling ready to be taken up in the subsequent books.

So those that don't want to go further can walk away - I hope - without feeling cheated, while those that want to carry on can see where those threads lead and whether they become further tangled or untangled.


message 32: by B J (new)

B J Burton (bjburton) | 2914 comments And I did it without hitting my thumb. It's taken me too long to start TB, but it's now underway. I think I'm safe in assuming that it won't end in a cliff-hanging bunch of bananas.


message 33: by Kath (new)

Kath Middleton | 25063 comments Certainly not! :)


message 34: by Toria (new)

Toria Lyons | 8 comments B J wrote: "A series of stand-alone novels involving the same well-drawn, well-liked characters is a treat. What should be one novel, but published as a serial in the form of a number of episodes, each ending with a 'cliff-hanger' is an irritation as far as I'm concerned."

Yep, definitely this. Even the free prologue to my series is a standalone - but the reader gets to meet some of the characters that appear later. (And even though it's free and I state it's a standalone in the blurb, and there's a quote saying it's a short one, I'm still getting comments criticising it for being short and asking if the story is continued...)

I think it says a lot about the skill of a writer if he/she is able to keep the structure of the book, make the reader happy, yet leave enough loose ends to tempt them to read the next novel. Plus not repeat too much of the previous novels, or leave the reader confused as something hasn't been explained. If the writer takes the care to do all that, and writes a great story, in my eyes that does elevate their work.

David wrote: "Cliffhangers to me often seem more about marketing than storytelling.

I think this is the crux of it. As Will says, it's an ebook tactic to hook people in. Risky though, as some of them aren't produced to as high a quality as the paid-for novels, which could turn prospective readers off. (This is a fear of mine as I s-p'd the aforementioned prologue.)


message 35: by Pete (new)

Pete Carter (petecarter) | 637 comments When is a twist a cliffhanger?
My last book was well rounded - story complete, mysteries solved, confusions resolved, leaving the reader satisfied. And then the final line knocks it all for six (and invites an optional follow-up story).

Is that a twist, or a cliffhanger?


message 36: by Karen (new)

Karen Lowe | 2335 comments My mum was irritated when the fourth Jeffrey Archer book in the Clifton Chronicles ended with an imminent, possibly, explosion, and the guy counting down from 10. Now she has a long wait until RNIB get the next book recorded and she finds out what happens next!


message 37: by Jamie (new)

Jamie Sinclair | 985 comments Hmm, I feel a bit left out as I can't think of the last book I read which ended with a cliffhanger. Mind you, Hollywood seems perfectly happy with the practice so maybe I should start.


message 38: by Richard (new)

Richard Mallett | 31 comments Pete wrote: "When is a twist a cliffhanger?
My last book was well rounded - story complete, mysteries solved, confusions resolved, leaving the reader satisfied. And then the final line knocks it all for six (an..."


Its a difficult definition but personally I see a cliffhanger in its literal form i.e. a person hanging from a cliff, meaning a person or persons left in peril.

A twist however can simply surprise the reader and leave questions that as you say can be answered in another story.

So unless your final line in your book puts your characters in unresolved peril I would say you have introduced a final twist that leaves the reader wanting to know more.


message 39: by D.D. Chant (new)

D.D. Chant (DDChant) | 7680 comments I started reading this thread thinking that none of my books had cliffhangers, after reading everyone else's definitions of cliffies now I'm not so sure!!!


message 40: by ✿Claire✿ (new)

✿Claire✿ (clairelm) | 3055 comments I think it depends on the cliffhanger. Some of them leave you exasperated as nothing's resolved and they've just added more in. Others, like Tim's last book, resolve most things, leave you convinced there will be a happy ending and then... something happens to trip that happy ending up. Those ones I like, the first sort I don't.


message 41: by Tim (new)

Tim | 9478 comments So far I've had no complaints :) (I've probably jinxed myself now!)


message 42: by Jim (new)

Jim | 21943 comments I confess that I try to tie things up a bit with an ending. Even if there's obviously problems ahead, there's a chance that they can live happily ever after for at least the next fortnight :-)


message 43: by Martin (new)

Martin Hill (martinroyhill) | 22 comments I try to avoid books with continuing story arcs just as I do TV shows with them. I prefer a story line with a beginning, middle, and an end.

Sometime back I read a book that Amazon was touting as one of its discoveries. It was awful. The writing was OK, but the plot and plot elements were ridiculous. But I soldiered on and got to the end ... but there was no ending. It was a cliffhanger. I didn't even both reviewing it.


message 44: by L.A. (new)

L.A. Kent | 4092 comments I know what you mean...I also hate books that end, then go on, and on. You get the beginning, middle and end, with quite a good story, understandable, well told, but the author insists on adding pages that add nothing and dilute enjoyment, with no extra surprises or anything useful at all.


message 45: by Will (new)

Will Macmillan Jones (willmacmillanjones) | 11721 comments To go against the trend ( bear in mind everything I write is a stand alone) I'm going to point to the huge success of Patrick Rothfuss' The KingKiller Chronicles.

Still waiting for book 3... but they are so well written (unlike GRRM's dross) that it is easy to forgive him.


message 46: by Toria (new)

Toria Lyons | 8 comments Martin wrote: "Sometime back I read a book that Amazon was touting as one of its discoveries. It was awful. The writing was OK, but the plot and plot elements were ridiculous. But I soldiered on and got to the end ... but there was no ending. It was a cliffhanger. I didn't even both reviewing it. "

But you should! Purely to warn other readers.

I've got to the point where I'll start on the low-starred reviews and work my way up. Somewhere in there, I'll usually find someone telling the truth, and warning if it's a cliffhanger/incomplete work.

I don't trust many people's recommendations. Twice now I've read books that people I follow enthused over and just thought, 'Meh.'


message 47: by L.A. (new)

L.A. Kent | 4092 comments I'm with you. Tricky things, ratings!


message 48: by Julia (new)

Julia Bell (juliabellromanticfiction) | 170 comments Sometimes I read the first book, but it's rare for me to buy the second in the series. Often I don't find the cliffhanger sufficiently intriguing enough.

I've written eight novels and they all stand alone, except one which is set twenty years after the first, so actually it's the continuation of a family secret. When I'm writing, my head is bursting with the plot and characters, but when I reach the end, I can at least catch my breath. If I wrote a series, I wouldn't be able to stop writing and my family would probably find a dried-up skeleton, bony fingers stuck to the keyboard.

The thing that really worries me is that the most popular books in the last few years seem to have been a series. Harry Potter, Twilight, Game of Thrones etc.


message 49: by ✿Claire✿ (new)

✿Claire✿ (clairelm) | 3055 comments I think the thing is, with series like HP and Twilight, the books don't really have a cliffhanger. Yes, ideally you read them in the right order but you could just read one. Agatha Christie and Clive Cussler both wrote/write series, no cliff hangers in sight.


message 50: by L.A. (new)

L.A. Kent | 4092 comments Same really with Peters Robinson and James and their Detectives Banks and Grace. You can dip in at any point in the series' really. Relationships change I guess between key characters and they get older, but no real cliff hangers if memory serves (it often doesn't so someone will probably tell me I'm mad!).


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