Friday Fun is a group post from the writers of the NHWN blog. Each week, we’ll pose and answer a different, get-to-know-us question. We hope you’ll join in by providing your answer in the comments.
QUESTION: Cliffhangers. Some people love ’em. Some people hate ’em. Which side of the debate do you fall in, and does your opinion change depending on whether you’re thinking about a story you’re reading vs. a story you’re writing?
Jamie Wallace: In general, I’m not a huge fan of cliffhangers between books. I recently read the middle book in V.E. Schwab’s “ADSOM” trilogy, A Gathering of Shadows. After finishing the book, I commented that it felt like “an entertaining set up for whatever is coming in the third book.” It made me chuckle when, later, I read the author’s comment in her postscript note that she made it all the way through so-and-so-many novels without “the dreaded cliffhanger.”
While I like end-of-chapter cliffhangers, end-of-novel cliffhangers are mostly annoying. Even though I know that there’s more coming, I feel like I’ve been the victim of a bait-and-switch scam. I’ve invested all this time in a story that offers no closure. To me, that feels like the story hasn’t kept it’s promise. And then, if I’m reading a series as it’s published, I have to face the long and arduous wait to the next release date. Ugh.
Nope. I prefer each novel in a series to be a complete story that can stand on its own. You can have end-of-chapter cliffhangers as tense as you like, but make sure that when I get to the last page of the book, I’ve got that fully satisfied feeling of having been on a fabulous journey that went somewhere and brought me home … not that I’m only halfway to wherever I’m going and have to wait another twelve months for the rest of the story.
Deborah Lee Luskin: I like linked fiction, and I love page-turners – which I define as a book so engrossing that I don’t want to get off the couch until I’m finished reading it – but I’m not a fan of cliff-hangers. It should also be known I have a low tolerance for suspense that involves danger. In fact, every fall when my friend Archer Mayor‘s new Joe Gunther mystery appears , I save it for the Christmas holiday so I can read it in one go. I’ve learned the hard way that if I don’t finish it before bedtime, I can’t get to sleep. For better or for worse, I’m one of those people who finds ordinary life sufficiently engrossing. Not a thrill seeker.
Lisa J. Jackson: I’m like Jamie in that chapter-to-chapter cliff hangers are fine; end-of-book cliffhangers, not so much. I’m familiar with Archer Mayor’s books, and am with Deborah in wanting to read them in one sitting. Quite the page turners!
I can’t think of any particular series now that ever left me with a cliffhanger and a year before the next book. I read several series and although the novels pick up after the last, they don’t *have* to be read in order to be appreciated. Each novel is a standalone, and I prefer that with the continuing stories of the characters.
When it comes to TV, cliffhangers at season’s end is typical — and I do find it frustrating to have to wait months to see who survived The Disaster.
Julie Hennrikus/Julianne Holmes: I don’t mind page turner cliffhangers, and I try and use them to build suspense in my novels. I also try to leave a “I wonder what’s going to happen in the next book” questions at the end of my novels, but I do think that answering the major plot questions is important. As a reader, I don’t like to have to wait for a year to know what happens, so I don’t do that to readers. RE TV cliffhangers, don’t you hate it when googling who didn’t renew their contract answers that question?