What’s wrong with cliffhangers?

A grand total of nothing.

I’ve been reading a few Kindle forums (slap myself on the wrist, stop that Darcy!) and there are some readers who get irked by the existence of book ending cliffhangers.  As if it is a personal affront to their entitled readerness or something.  I can only understand the grumpy mood if say…the author dies and doesn’t finish.  That would be…well disheartening.

But why are cliffhangers acceptable in shows (hello season finale, always a cliffhanger), movies (typically those that are trilogies), but not books?  If you’re writing action/adventure, as I tend to do, there isn’t necessarily a point you can cut off that doesn’t leave some sort of cliffhanger for a reader.  It just doesn’t make sense for everything to slow down to a nice ho-hum pace so that there can be a “conclusion” that makes a reader feel warm and happy.  I call epic bullshit on anyone that needs that shit to enjoy a book.  I will mail you epic bullshit badges.

Epic Bullshit Badge

One book pops to the forefront of my mind in regards to cliffhangers: The Golden Compass (Northern Lights in Britain I believe).  That was not an ending that wrapped shit up.  That ending was a book ramping up to full trilogy-rad-tasticness and I LOVED it.  To end that story on a “conclusion” would have stolen the momentum it had been building, it would have taken away the rush of emotion as we are left wanting more.  I like being left wanting more!

So what’s wrong with being left wanting more?  What’s wrong with a writer pulling you in for a multi-book roller coaster?  I’ve actually seen complaints where a reader goes on to remark about how they have to read the rest of the books to get a conclusion.  Like that’s a bad thing.

…are you fucking kidding me?  Could you have read just one of the Harry Potters, or just one book of Lord of the Rings?  Should JK Rowling have put the whole story all in one book so that you didn’t have to wait until the rest of them came out?  I don’t know if that reader is spoiled or just on crack.

Authors do not owe readers a tight wrapped story in a one book bundle.  They owe them a good story, but whether that happens in 1 book or 5 books or 10 books, that is up to the author.

So anyone critiquing any story for cliffhangers also earns themselves an epic bullshit badge.

Okay…rant done.

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6 Responses to “What’s wrong with cliffhangers?”

  1. Madeline Says:

    Uh-oh… I feel like a scolded child. 😛

    I did mention in my review of Daystar that Evenstar ended in a cliffhanger but I really meant it in a dying-for-more-asap-plz-n-thx kinda way 🙂 But I do recall reading a review about Mrningstar I think, where the reviewer went off about the book ending in cliffhanger and how authors only do that to make people buy all the books in a series. I just wanted to say to that reviewer “Bitch, please. When I love a story, I’ll take all I can get. Shit, I’ll buy the novellas and compilation of short stories. Whatever the authors throws my way!” Send the EPIC BS her way. Done and next plz.

    • Haha no I wasn’t referring to you or anyone that said that they like that kind of thing. Honestly, I’ve seen the anti-cliffhanger remark in multiple places, most recently Kindle forums. I should just not read Kindle forums, they are full of a lot of self-important, negative people. But that’s another topic entirely.

  2. We are a entitled culture of NOW. We want everything instantly. It is sad how far this has leaked into every facet of our lives. Yea sometimes I am sad to wait for the next one… and when years pass in between it can be frustrating …but as long as it does come out eventually all is good.

    • Ugh, exactly. Sadly I think a lot of creative people cave to the pressure and put out a half-assed product to satisfy that need. Ultimately it means the customer is less than satisfied, but it’s their own fault if they throw a fit because something isn’t ready RIGHT NOW.

      On the flip-side…an author who takes years between books (GRR Martin…) is just freaking ridiculous.

      A happy medium must be found. I’d say a year between a book is reasonable (depending on the size), but start to go over that and you’re looking at unhappy readers, or readers that forget you exist.

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