Please forgive me; I’m going to have a rant.
Nothing infuriates me more in this frontier world of indie publishing, than the author who ends their book on a cliff hanger.
Scratch that. They don’t end it at all; they just stop writing, smack in the middle of the action, assuming that the reader will be fine and happy to go off and purchase the next in the series so you can find out what happens.
Or wait until the next book is written
Authors – this cheats the reader!
Perhaps I’m old fashioned, and there are rafts of readers out there who don’t mind investing several hours in reading a book only to discover that it has no resolution. Sorry, I’m not one. I like my books in the time-honoured style of beginning-middle-end.
Of course, if a book is part of a series, there are going to be dangling plot threads left to draw us on to the next novel, and if the author has properly plotted out the overall story arc for the trilogy or series, then that isn’t going to be wrapped up in a single book.
But please, give us some form of resolution to the central conflict of this book.
I’ve read a couple of great blogs recently on this subject: Wise Ink’s The Art of the Cliffhanger, which discusses how to use them in a fair manner, and Cliffhangers – a good idea or not? , where Jennifer Ellis breaks down the various types of cliffhanger into 4 categories, and goes on to argue that ‘there is a balance between providing enough closure and leaving some things hanging in both stand alone books and books in a series.’
As an author, I can agree with that. I was somewhat shocked when one review of my epic fantasy, THE PRINCE’S MAN accused it of having a cliffhanger ending. It doesn’t; it has dangling threads left that follow on in the next book, but the macro conflict of ‘will the coup succeed or not?’, and the character conflict of ‘will Rusty and Risada come to terms with each other before one of them ends up dead?’, are both fully resolved by the end.
I admit the sequel is proving trickier, but I do have an overall arc that will be closed, even if this time around a lot of threads will be left waving in the breeze; more par for the course in the middle part of a trilogy, I think.
When I’m book buying, after checking out the cover and blurb, the next thing I do is check the reviews to see if ‘cliffhanger ending’ is mentioned anywhere. If it is, I don’t purchase.
Unfortunately, when I sign up to review a book for a blog tour, many of the books are not yet released, so I don’t have that luxury. I do, however, now plan on asking the question of the tour company before signing up in future.
I’m writing this post on the back of finishing one such, in which there is not one single plot thread tied up at the end of it; it builds and builds, adding plot strands, motives and tension – and then just stops. That made me see red, especially as it is a debut novel, and I have no idea when the next will be out. Anyway, by then I will have forgotten the details of this one.
I will certainly try to be as impartial as possible with my review – the story is good and as so many writers are employing this strategy these days, I won’t be utterly damming it for just that one point. But to me, it’s a big point.
How about all you readers out there? How do you feel when an author leaves you high and dry?