Cliff Hangers

I’ve been reading a lot of young adult novels recently and really enjoying them. Except for one thing–many of them end with cliff hangers. You know what I mean. Not everything is resolved and you’re left hanging. Not only that, but you know good and well that the next book in the series won’t be out for months, maybe not for a year. By that time I could have forgotten what in the heck I was hanging around for. Of course there will be a big display in my local bookstore to remind me. I got hooked that way in the first place. Stumbled over a whole table full of young adult best sellers with book one(in paperback) lying next to book 2(hardback). The message is clear. Buy the first and we’ll leave you panting for the second. And, yes, we’ll stick you with an upgrade in the cost. Thanks a heap.

The problem is, these books are well-written. And the suspense is taut. So I do want to know what happens next. Take Paranormalcy. I liked that book a lot. No teaser chapter at the end. No sign of a book 2. But there has to be one in the offing. Because there were just too many loose ends. And the main character is strong, cool and more than sufficient to carry a series. These authors are good at that. Seems like they’re doing better at it than the adult market lately.

How did I get sucked into this anyway? Sure I have a niece who’s 15, but she didn’t steer me here. I have a friend who writes young adult fare and hasn’t sold one yet. Heard the buzz about the tough competition. Oh, how hard could it be? So I picked up a few. Well, now I know. Pretty darn hard. And so many writers for adults have slipped across the aisle to savor that tasty market, where foreign sales can go to six figures and movie deals are made with unseemly haste. This isn’t happening in the adult section lately.

And when you’ve written as many love scenes as I have, the idea of writing a whole book without one sounds like nirvana. I mean, how many ways can you do it and not sound stale? Or pornographic. Or clinical. I try, seriously, to keep it fresh. But my problem is that I have the same heroine going at it for seven books now. And ninety percent of the time with the same hero. It’s like a long marriage. And I know personally what that’s like. The black negligee is way in the back of the drawer and we watch those ads for the special cream that heats things up, but seems like a lot of trouble and messy. You know? Okay, so I’m writing fantasy. I keep that in mind and soldier on.

But a YA might be a welcome break. I probably waited too late though. The market is getting saturated, by some outstanding talent. And, personally? I hate cliff hangers. I want each book, even if it is in a series, to stand alone. To have a satisfying ending. With all the important questions answered. Any other way is, to me, a manipulation of the audience. And I don’t like it. Might even refuse to buy an author again if I feel jerked around. What do you think? How do you feel about cliff hangers? Share your thoughts here.


15 Responses to “Cliff Hangers”

  1. Kat Jameson Says:

    Ugh! I agree with you Gerry. The other way I feel about this is that even if you have a good thing it gets old if you try to stretch it too far. There is one YA series in particular that has done this and although I’ve not read the latest installment I feel confident saying that by now the plot has to have become rather thin. It is not probable that a teen would be able to face so many horrific things one right after another over the course of a year and 10 or more books. As a reader that technique leaves me feeling a bit ripped off. Yes, I’d like to know what happens but I also don’t want to spend years waiting for the end of a story that should have been wrapped up in 5 books or less. I also agree that some of the YA are well written but here again people have jumped on the band wagon so to speak and there is a glut of Twilightesque books. As a writer I would rather create my own thing apart from what is glutted but I suppose the safe thing to do is write what the readers are already reading. Lol about the sex scenes. After a few hundred years together I would have to imagine it would be very routine. =)


  2. Oh I hate, hate, hate cliff hangers. I actually have one series right now that i had the first 4 on my tbr pile, and i was going to start reading them, but everyone on my reader boards were saying how horrilbe the cliffhangers were. the last one is out in jan and i am going to wait til i get it in hand before i start the series. and if it was not already done by an author i really like, i would probably not have picked them up at all. I don’t mind continuation of stories, just not a cliff hanger.
    And you are doing perfectly awesome with Glory and her guy(s). i love all the Gloryverse books and hope there are many more to come. side note, did you have a certain amt of books you had planned for Glory?


  3. I usually refuse to read a series until it’s been published in its entirety, unless it’s by an author I know/love, because I just can’t handle the cliffhangers. How am I supposed to remember what happened in the previous volume? By reading it again, of course. And since most of the authors I follow have their new books out around the same time, that makes for a serious backlog of reading I have to do!

    As for long, drawn-out series..there’s one author that I’m following, whose first three books set in this particular world were fantastic, and the following in-universe stand-alone was, if not AS good, still great (as was the NEXT one, a volume of “cut scenes,” if you will, from the original trilogy). The next book she put out, though, was incredibly disappointing. It was much shorter than the previous five, not giving her chosen main characters the space to shine that they really needed, and in the end they had to turn to the heroine of the original three books to save the day. The most recent two in this universe were also disappointing — incredibly likable main characters, and an addicting plot, ruined by the near-constant cutbacks to the previous heroine and her circle, who really had no reason to be in the books at all except for cameo appearances.

    There are too many series that do that sort of thing nowadays, hanging onto fame generated by a few volumes, abusing the fans’ trust in their chosen authors.

    One last note — I would LOVE to see you write YA. I think you could bring a breath of fresh, un-Twilighty air to the YA genre(s). Not all vampire novels have to follow the same storyline, with the same stale characters. (I’m sure I’m not the only one who noticed the similarities between Twilight and The Vampire Diaries, plus the innumerable Twilight clingers-on that have appeared in the last few years.) I’m sure you’d do a good job of it. 🙂


    • Thanks, Ariette,
      I’d thought about the YA, but with a new contract for another Glory book and my editor asking for a new adult series, right now my plate is full. But the ideas are percolating so don’t count me out. I appreciate the vote of confidence. I’m sure the similarities to Twilight are totally deliberate. Bestsellers get copied all the time, it’s considered smart marketing. But I wouldn’t try it. It’s a slippery slope leading straight to plaigerism.


  4. Oh there is nothing worse than getting into a great book and waiting to see what happens and then NOTHING!!! I get so frustrated with those writers and I have not read another one of their books after the first one ends that way. And the worst part is when there is NO follow up book. UGH!!!! Well thats just my opinion but I think we’re all feeling the same way.
    Gerry continue to do what your doing your a great writer and won’t leave us hangin’ 🙂 LMBO


    • Sometimes authors may have planned a follow up book, but the contract isn’t offered because of lackluster sales. That would be horrible. I think then the author should try to tie up loose ends with a free story on their web site or something. Anyway, I may hint at future developments, but won’t leave you totally hanging. Promise!


  5. I dont mind cliff hangers, I just dont like having to wait FOREVER to read the next installment. The new book is GREAT by the way. Finished it last night, couldnt put it down. Thanks


    • Thank you, Brandi! Sorry about the wait for the next installment. That’s how long it takes to get new contract and to write the things. I already turned it in, now it’s in the publisher’s hands. So August, then February, 2012. Two a year is pretty good in this economy they tell me. I appreciate the support.


  6. I agree!! i hate waiting a year to find out the conclusion to a cliff hanger, because by then i have to re-read the entire last book again just to remember exactly what was going on. And who’s to say i’ll even be into that series in a year? Now if it was only like six months it wouldn’t be so bad, but a whole year? really? I have to admit though i love, love triangles, and alot of YA series have them. I’ve read maybe 4 YA series and they’ve all been pretty good but i LOVE adult series more, their not cheesy like most YA books.


    • I’ve been reading some great YA and admit I do love a good triangle. Not crazy about teen angst, but lots of action seems to be common and that keeps me turning the pages. Really abrupt cliff hangers are the worst. I’d rather not get into a series like that until right before the last book, like I just did with Moning’s Fever series. She’s the queen of cliff hangers, and writes one book a year!


  7. Christy D Says:

    I just spent 15 minutes writing a reply to this blog and I erased it dang it. I do stuff like that all the time…hate having A.D.D. My fingers do stuff and my brain is two steps behind it.

    As I was saying. Before I got into your books, I got roped in to a series just like you were describing. I found book one in December 2010 and really liked the book. It ended with “to be continued” and luckily the second book in the series came out the same month so I did not have to hang long. I read the second book and wouldn’t you know it, it ended with “to be continued.” Seriously??? Thats just wrong because I am going to totally forget what I have read and will not have a clue when the next one comes out (book one had a preview of book two but book two didn’t have the same dang it)

    The good thing that came out of this (I just realized this is seriously ironic) was that I picked up one of your books (real vampires get lucky.)

    While it irritated me a little bit that I did not start at book one (I have OCD too and doing things in order is a must) I got over it since that awesome book had an actual ending that did not leave me hanging. It left me wanting to read the next book but not hanging.

    I went almost immediately and bought as many of the books as I could find (in two trips I found the rest..woohoo). I figured out which book was number one and started reading it. I am currently reading that and love it.

    I actually went to your site to figure out what order the rest of the books came in. Thats how I found your blog.

    ok sorry for rambling…thank you for your books and your blog. Both are super entertaining!!!!


    • I do the same thing, Christy. Write what I think is just the most brilliant stuff ever and then lose it in cyber space somewhere. Computers can be evil! Anyway, thanks for the kind words. I like reading a series in order too, not OCD at all, it just makes sense. Glad you found all the books. And thanks for stopping by. It reminded me it’s time for a new blog. Hmm. What to write about.


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