I grew up watching Mickey Mouse Club and Howdy Doody on black and white television. For the young, that's TV with no color in it that usually came one to a household and you had to get up and turn a knob (no remote) to turn it on and off or to change the two or three channels available. The reception was often bad and we had antennae with the signal boosted by clothes hangers and sometimes aluminum foil. I didn't watch the kids in the studio audience or their antics. The program for me was about the serials and the cliffhanger endings. I stayed tuned for Flash Gordon on Howdy Doody and various Disney-made shows on the Mickey Mouse Club. They were action and adventure that always ended at the most inopportune time, when the the going was rough and the action had build to a point of no return. Then the announcer would cut in and say "What will happen to our hero, boys and girls? Stay tuned next week for..." You get the picture. Modern television still does this. There are surprise two-parters where "To be continued..." flashes across the screen at the moment of greatest predicament. Even worse are season cliffhangers where there are disasters: shootings, explosions, the hero having a heart attack where we have to wait until the season opener for a resolution. Usually that revolves around which actor got a satisfying contract. I followed my love of such a thrill when I wrote my novels and put a humongous cliffhanger at the end of the first book: Voices in Crystal. I hoped that readers understood that I was writing a "to be continued" tale so I wanted to make a good one and believe I did. Readers wonder what happens to the hero and those he left behind. Book 2 Going Forth By Day answers the question. There's another cliffhanger there too, but another chapter at the end defuses it, much like an epilog that leads into the third book. (a soft landing) As for not having a cliffhanger. In a standalone novel everything is usually tied up nicely. Romances work well this way because readers want their happy ending. End of Story. The couple is happy. Stop asking questions. But is life like that? I was that reader who always asked, "Well what happened next?" I've spoken with authors who believed they were finished telling a story only to have fans beg for more from either the main characters or stories about secondary characters.
Cindy and Joe got married and lived happily ever after, but what about Susie, Cindy's troubled little sister? Or what about two years later? Still happy? You know how it goes.
Here are some reader comments on this and my comments back:
Sandy Fosdick Depends. If I have the next book then they're ok. If not then AAAAAAARRRRRRRRGGGGGG
Ulff Lehmann Love them
Edward Buatois Done well, cliffhangers in and of themselves are a good, even necessary, part of writing a series. The book must ALWAYS conclude on a satisfying ending, but with a series, there must be tantalizing loose ends that have a clear "next" which leave the reader intrigued enough to continue. Really book cliffhangers are no different than chapter cliffhangers in that function: The chapter must have a definable beginning, middle, and end, yet contain a fairly obvious "next" that prompts the reader to turn the page and read on.Where "cliffhangers" can annoy people is where the book has an unsatisfying conclusion (if there is one at all) and simply seems to end
Michelle Dunbar Hate abrupt mid-scene cliffhangers but I don't mind having some unresolved plot points.
Raven Dana mostly hate them
Christine Lyden I've used one, but reluctantly. I was sure that if I'd finished the scene the end of the book would have been ruined by spoilers in reviews.
Hilary Anderson Fine in chapter, tolerable at end of book if mainly resolved, unacceptable at end of series.
And I interjected YOU GUYS ROCK Keep the ideas coming. I used a cliffhanger in Voices in Crystal but hopefully built up enough steam that the readers KNOW there is more. My mistake when I first published was that readers had to wait 18 months for the next book.I feel better about it now that the end of Book 1 is more like a chapter cliffhanger and there is another book waiting.
Tracy Johnson I'm neutral about them except at the end of a series. I read a lot so I can move to another book while waiting for the next book in the series.
Tom Atwood Cliffhangers are like chili powder. A bit here, a bit there, and they make everything delicious. Too much though and it overpowers everything and makes it awful
Amber Daniels I love to write them but I hate to read them lol I have thrown many a book because of cliffhangers😂
Ken Wigal I don't mind them as long as they don't take three months to be resolved.
Margena Holmes I"m not a fan of cliffhangers. I like the story to be all tied up and tidy. It's even worse if it's part of a series and the second (or subsequent) book isn't done and the author takes forEVER to write it.
Lois Athena Buhalis I like 'em because they usually mean there'll be another book, another movie, or another season coming up.
Fizza Younis Hate them... I am just too impatient and waiting for next book drive me crazy 🙃
Tiffany Miles Love them
Mark McQuillen Because it entices people to read the next book to find out what happened. Mara and I use them all the time..I even apparently killed Mal off and the end of Valkyrie 3. And that's were the book ended..but fear not to be continued same bat time same bat channel..
Trust a Few Trust the few is a well written space opera. The main characters are Avilon, Jaz, Charis and Durban who are likeable and well developed making their way in new careers. There was a lot of initial stage setting or world building. which slowed the pace, even though the writing was skilled. As I read, I kept thinking I had missed something of the story. Then I realized the author's universe had been already established in other novels outside this particular series. Looking back, I think I would not have felt lost if I'd read them first. The missing pieces in turn kept me from "feeling" the characters as well as I could and seeing exactly how they fit in their world of lost hopes betrayal and redemption. I recommend it and look forward to re-reading it once again
Tales from the Rim
Two gems of novellas are in one volume set in Bonnie Milani's Universe. In Liquid Gambit I immediately recognized a Lupan - Rick a genetically altered wolf/human from other Milani tales. The story has a noir feeling to it and even borrows a line from the film Casablanca. A bartender meets a waif-like older woman Emma who changes his life forever. .I could mentally picture the places she described in her well-built world. A great read!
Cherry Pickers - This one was a bit harder for me. I love Milani's alien races for the most part, except the insectoids - Sorry not a bug person. Realizing it might be personal I couldn't downgrade the story on that. The heroine was desperate to grown up as any teen is, but can't find a human mate. (as opposed to an alien one who dies on mating) It does have a YA coming of Age feel to it. and many amusing, well written parts1 Great Job.!
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