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Neat Little Package or Cliffhanger?

This post has been prompted by yet other people quoting the rules of writing: thou shalt not end a novel on a cliffhanger.

This is where I roll my eyes and pinch the bridge of my nose in frustration. No cliffhangers?!? Are you kidding me?

I recently had the privilege of reading a great Indie book called Angst (click here for my review). When I got to the end, I literally clapped my hands and laughed because the author left readers on the edge of a cliff! The ending was awesome! Because of this ending, I won’t be forgetting the name Angst, or David J Pedersen any time soon. I will be checking his website, FB, Twitter (okay, sounds a little stalker-ish) for news on the sequel! Now, there’s a chance that, even though I enjoyed the hell out of Angst, I might not have been so eager for the sequel of every little detail had been wrapped up in a neat little package with a pretty purple bow.

I think that cliffhangers are really important for a series. As a reader and a writer, I prefer the cliffhangers. Writers can tie up some things but seriously, if it’s a series, then there are going to be lots of plot threads that can’t be tied up! And I would rather leave the reader with some anxiety or big questions at the end of the book. Readers like knowing things that the characters DON’T know! If the characters think that everything is going according to plan, and yet the reader reads the final chapter where a bad guy is plotting something that’s going to hurt the main characters, or at least throw a huge wrench into the works. The reader wants to be able to jump into the book to warn the characters of what’s coming! THAT’S how you hook readers and make them drool for the next book.

I can hear people saying things like, “Yeah, but what about other genres, like mysteries or something that aren’t a series but use the same detective or character?” What about those? You can end the book with a little taste of what’s coming in the next one, can’t you? Imagine, the main character has worked day and night for a week to catch the bad guy, foils the plot, saves someone from being killed, etc. Bad guy loses, good guy wins. Nice ending, right?

But what about this? Everything ends well, detective is at home, perhaps enjoying a beer or rum & coke, when he gets a phone call, text, or e-mail that indicates something is afoot: maybe something from the chief about a new case, or some skeleton from his past that’s coming back to haunt him, or even a serial killer, thought long dead, that has resurfaced. See how just a paragraph or two at the end of a book can hook the reader and make them hunger for the next one?

And as for the “rules”, *tosses rule book out the window*.  This is one of those that I don’t agree with at all. I prefer to read cliffhangers, and I will continue to write them. So if you’re not afraid of heights, or want to try your hand at reading something that will leave you BEGGING for the sequel, then give The Portals of Destiny a shot!


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One Comment on “Neat Little Package or Cliffhanger?”

  1. Kelly Hashway June 9, 2011 at 8:47 am #

    I’m reading the Hush, Hush series and the second book Crescendo leaves you on a huge cliffhanger. I’m dying to read the next book. I love it and hate it at the same time. I think the technique works because I’m very eager to read the next book, but at the same time it’s torture waiting for it to come out.

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