I recently read a book by one of my favorite paranormal romance authors. I’d loved everything else she’d published thus far and I knew this one would be no exception. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The entire tale—more than 300 pages—read like a teaser, and I sat on the edge of my seat frantically scanning the pages for the resolution. It never came. The book ended with a giant question mark requiring the reader to buy the next book. Instead of feeling excited to see how the story line would play out, I felt cheated and I had no desire to buy the second volume of the new series.
The “cliffy,” as I keep hearing it called, is a current trend in the genre. Authors seem to be so concerned with readers continuing with their series that they feel it necessary to string them along, forcing them to buy the next book to receive answers. Rather than having a beginning, middle, and end, a story will simply cut off at a suspenseful moment. In fact, it is becoming so prevalent that some book descriptions have begun leading with “This is a standalone novel with no cliffhangers.”
As a reader, I appreciate a glimpse of the direction the next book will go. If the first book has introduced me to a world I enjoy, I either “one-click” the following book or anxiously await its release date. What I don’t appreciate, however, is feeling like I don’t have a choice. I paid for a novel in its entirety. Ending a book with no resolution at all is like having a movie turned off during a climactic scene.
As an author, I begin each book with a story to tell, and I don’t type “The End” until I have finished that particular story. I owe it to my characters; I develop a relationship with each as I write. I owe it to myself to finish the vision I have, the plot that must unfold. But perhaps most of all, I owe it to the readers. They trust me when they take a chance on my book. They trust me to entertain them and tell a good (complete) story, and I feel like ending with a cliffhanger is a betrayal of that trust. Cliffhangers also feel insecure—if an author creates a world and a cast of characters that readers will enjoy, why not trust them to continue their experience?
It’s best to write what you love; that’s why I began writing in the paranormal romance genre last year. I’ve published two novels in my Phoenix Warrior series and each book does have a beginning, middle, and end. The cast of characters remains the same, but each book focuses on a different Warrior and his love interest. I write my books so that someone could pick up one anywhere in the series and it would still make sense, but each complements the others.
The Phoenix Warriors are a group of hunky immortals who are guarding the human realm from interference from otherworldly races. I chose to make my heroes Phoenix because I wanted to do something different than vampires and werewolves. I love stories about both, but I really wanted to try something more unique. These Warriors are literally hot. I hope you’ll give them a try.
You can learn more about my books at my website, www.karidaclarke.com, or at my Amazon author page, http://www.amazon.com/Karida-Clarke/e/B00INJ1T14.
Many thanks to Delilah for inviting me to share my thoughts and my books on her blog. I would love to hear from readers. How do you feel about cliffhangers? What about teasers for subsequent books after the end of the previous novel?
About the Author: Karida Clarke is a romance writer with a penchant for anything otherworldly. If it has scales, fur, poisoned talons, throws fire or casts magic spells, it might find its way into her stories. Karida likes her heroines multifaceted and her males swoon-worthy, Alpha-style. She believes that relationships matter more than things and places. In her free time, Karida enjoys lacing up for long runs and cooking ethnic cuisine. Pet peeves include Saran Wrap and people who don’t put their shopping carts away. Karida has an M.A. in English Literature, is a former college English instructor, and currently writes for a small newspaper. She lives with her nerd-tastic husband and two spunky kids in Ohio.
I don’t mind a little cliffhanger, a bit of a teaser of what is to come in the next book. *bad announcer voice* ‘Where will our spunky heroine find the next piece to the big nasty over-arcing problem?’ But I really hate the large unresolved cliffhangers. Like the female standing between two guys, each with an arm out stretched towards her and *bad announcer voice* ‘Tune in next time to see who our spunky heroine has chosen.’ Bah! That’s a cop out and just ticks me off. Pick one, change your mind, start the next book off with a gotcha, I don’t care, just don’t leave me hanging. Real life happens and I don’t want to have to wait 4 years to get resolution. (Kimberly Raye’s Dead End Dating Series) But that’s just my 2cents worth.
I hate cliffhangers, but a teaser is okay unless the next book won’t be out for a year or more.
Thanks for creating stories with beginning, middles and ends! I absolutely DETEST cliffhangers. Like you, I feel cheated. I’d also like to point out that there’s nothing I like better than for the author/publisher to tell me UP FRONT that it is a standalone novel. That’s sorta like my conscience whispering in my ear, “Go ahead. One click. It’s safe.” The other thing I appreciate? If an author releases a novella/novel that was previously featured in an anthology — for them to say, “This was also featured in the anthology “Blah Blah Blah”. It’s irritating to purchase a book just to realize that you already have it!
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I have totally stopped reading authors I liked because of the cliffhanger. If you write a good story, I will buy your next book. You leave me hanging, I will make up my own ending and strike you from my list. The serial should have remained in the magazine world. I don’t like it in 300 page books – with no warning. Sorry, got off on a bit of rant. Guess you may have figured out, I do not like cliffhangers. (I feel the same about TV. Huge fan of Netflix cuz I can get it all at once.) As for teasers, when I was first exploring this world of ebooks, yes, I read them all the time. Lead me to new stuff and authors. Now, I pretty much ignore them. I have too many stories in my tbr mountain already, and a huge list of favorite authors I have a hard keeping up with. Now I find new authors in places like this. Your Phoenix Warrior books sound good. I will need to check them out.
This is a great subject for discussion. Personally, I don’t mind cliffhangers so long as it’s a series fic, intended to be read as installments. It’s a time honored method of storytelling in comic books and lots of other genres, especially classical scifi.
Great post. I shared and tweeted.
The first serial book with a cliffhanger I read was Stephen King’s The Green Mile. It had six installments and one came out each month or couple of weeks over the course of a summer (I think). I loved it, like watching the old serials on TV–Lost in Space was a particular favorite–that had a terrific cliffhanger at the end of each. IDK–it never bothered me, except to make me want to read the next book more.
But then I’m guilty of publishing a serial novel myself, a medieval trilogy, that was too long to publish as one book (in my opinion). And I did get some negative feedback about the cliffhangers, but everyone’s entitled to their preferences, and I just hope they didn’t hate it too much.
If I like the characters, I’ll follow them anywhere… though I prefer the “instant gratification” of happy endings in a single volume, I will happily read 10 if that’s how long it takes them to resolve apocalyptic issues. If I don’t like characters… I won’t finish the first chapter.
Don’t like cliffhangers but do like teasers. Just finished a book that left me hanging and made me angry. Things don’t need to be tied up neatly, but there should be some kind of ending.
I do not like cliffhangers. I enjoy serials like yours – related characters, but a reader doesn’t have to read the books in order to enjoy them. I strongly dislike books that have no ending. I usually choose NOT to continue reading further. I am on a limited budget. There are too many authors writing what I think of as “forced” serials. I don’t purchase those. If I love an author and love the book and the characters, I’ll purchase the next book.
I enjoy “serial” stories if each story is about a different charector,like if there is a wolfpack and each story tells the story of a different wolf in each book. What drives me crazy is when they post the first book free and its really good,but then the next part about the same couple comes out and its 2.99 and then you find out that there are 5 books for the same couple each at about 30 to 40 pages and only the first one is free,all the rest are 2.99. Im sorry but 2.99 is too much money for a 30 to 40 page part of a story and there is one author whom I won’t name who is notorius for doing this and its to the point that no matter how much I want the story Im not gonna pay what equals to about $9.00 for about 200 pages,I check every so often and see if she has bundles it for 4.99 then Ill consider it but sadly I no longer read her books just because I think she is ripping off customers the way she does the pricing.