Today we’ve got a guest blogger and she’s talking about Cliffhangers. FUN!
Georgeann Swiger earned her degree in journalism from West Virginia University, and then spent five years as an anchor/reporter at WBOY-TV in Clarksburg, WV. After having children, she left television news to be a stay at home mom. During that time, she discovered creative writing was more fun than writing about real life tragedy. Imagining interesting character and having them come to life on the page is now her passion. When she’s not writing, she works as a substitute teacher. She lives in Reedsville, West Virginia with her husband, two kids, a beagle dog and a temperamental cat who tries to rule the house.
Take it away Georgeann!
Growing up in the 80’s, soap operas were the rage. I ran home from school every day to tune into my favorite afternoon romance. Most days, the story would end with a problem, but on Friday, OMG, on Friday, I knew to expect a big turn of events that would stop my heart and leave my mouth hanging open. The Friday cliffhanger got me every time. I loved it and hated it. The thrill of needing to know if my favorite character would live or if the beloved couple would finally get together always left me anxious for Monday.
I think a good cliffhanger adds excitement to a story and piques the reader’s interest. I love being surprised by an ending I didn’t see coming. I know there are people who don’t like cliffhangers. I realize some readers refuse to read a book with one until the next book is out because they don’t have the patience to wait a year for the next book. I get that. It’s a personal choice and a smart move on their parts.
But when I hear people say cliffhangers are lazy writing, well, I respectfully disagree. Some cliffhangers may be dropped on readers with no real purpose other than to get readers to buy the next book. But to say ALL cliffhangers are lazy writing is just wrong.
The first book in my series ends on a HUGE cliffhanger. I ended the book the way I did because it is the natural stopping point of the story. What happens at the end of the first book opens the door to the second book and presents a BIG question that is the basis for the second story.
To me, there was nothing lazy about ending the first book with a cliffhanger. I made a decision to write the story the way I did. I fine-tuned the ending for months until I found the right words that gave away a little something about what was to come without giving away too much. It’s a delicate balance. I did a lot of re-writing to get it right.
In my opinion, cliffhangers need to serve a bigger purpose. Unlike the Friday afternoon soap opera cliffhanger, a cliffhanger in a novel needs to raise a new set of problems and send characters on a new journey. Stopping a story midstream and picking up the same old story in the next book doesn’t work. The book following the cliffhanger needs to be its “own” story not just a continuation of the previous book.
Cliffhangers are a magical thing when done right. They give a jolt to the ending of a book and send readers clawing and scratching to get the next book. Personally, I love them.
What do you think of cliffhangers? Do you love them or hate them? Are they a lazy way to end a book?
If you want to check out Georgann’s books. ADORNED, the first in the series is now FREE right here. And CLOVEN, book 2, comes out October 21. They’re all about Angels and fighting and teens and of course lurve.