February 19, 2020, 09:34:43 AM

Author Topic: Cliffhanger endings in books  (Read 5380 times)

Offline ultamentkiller

Re: Cliffhanger endings in books
« Reply #45 on: September 29, 2017, 01:08:19 AM »
Speaking of which: Chapters should end at a natural pause in the story. Not in the middle of a scene. It's not like TV shows where the length of each episode is set to the minute. And I already bought the whole book. You don't need to use tricks to make me want to buy the next chapter.
You do for me. I'm less likely to go on with a book if I don't have questions I want to answer in the next chapter. Give me those chapter cliffhangers, and if you make the stakes believable, I'm on board.

Offline night_wrtr

Re: Cliffhanger endings in books
« Reply #46 on: September 29, 2017, 02:59:30 AM »
I would place self-contained and standalone in the same basket. As in there is a full arc that rises and falls for characters and plot. A standalone can progress the world and characters of previous works, but the story itself needs no prior knowledge to enjoy the story.

I agree with @Lanko about ESB.

And I don't mind cliffhangers all that much if it makes sense to leave things open to interpretation. The Last Argument of Kings was a good example, and a good use of leaving a thread open.

Offline AmeliaFaulkner

Re: Cliffhanger endings in books
« Reply #47 on: September 29, 2017, 07:48:02 AM »
The irony of not wanting to watch or read things until the entire series is complete to avoid cliffhangers is that it directly leads to those things being cancelled before the end because nobody is watching or buying them, which then leads to the Catch-22 "I'm glad I didn't get into that, I knew it'd get cancelled!"

Offline Nora

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Re: Cliffhanger endings in books
« Reply #48 on: September 29, 2017, 08:14:08 AM »
Teb I know you weren't answering to me, but since I talked about in book cliff hangers, let me point out (and to Ultament as well) that there is a HUGE difference between a "suspenseful" ending and a cliff hanger. Only on a matter of scale.
All a chapter needs is to keep you intrigued enough to turn the page or pick the book up again. If a writer feels he needs actual cliff hangers to keep me engage, then he either sells his story short, or indeed can't write well in my eyes.
Think of all the books that kept you totally riveted and had absolutely no cliff hangers anywhere. In sci Fi I can point at some of my favourite books : ancillary justice, grass, the long way... even the Martian. Those books had engaging characters in fascinating universes. They never needed cliffhangers to keep me on.
Worse, Andy weir, instead of having Watnis explode out in Martian air and leave you unsure of what's going on, cuts to a third person chapter that covers the making of the piece of fabric that ruptures, and how it arrived there, getting stressed enough to pop!

So yeah, a proper cliff hanger I remember from assassin's apprentice series had futz getting "lethally stabbed" and fainting. Nearly lost my eyes rolling them thy hard, when of course he ended up perfectly fine, since he was the only mc.
Totally agree on that with lanko, grrm at least kills his darlings and make cliff hangers efficient.

Waiting 6 years on a cliff hangers is counter Productive for me though. I'm totally out of that series for now.
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Offline ultamentkiller

Re: Cliffhanger endings in books
« Reply #49 on: September 29, 2017, 09:32:58 PM »
Let me rephrase. Suspenseful chapter endings help me keep going. If you get me asking questions and wanting more, I will definitely read on. But cliffhangers... I love those afternoons when I've read a book for 3 hours straight because I couldn't find a natural chapter point to catch a breath. I think all my favorite series have this in common to some extent.

Offline Lanko

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Re: Cliffhanger endings in books
« Reply #50 on: September 29, 2017, 11:09:49 PM »
A cliffhanger is just another suspenseful way to end a chapter/episode/movie/book.

It seems we are putting them in separate boxes, but a cliffhanger (no matter the scale) is in the same box of tools designed to create suspense, intrigue, shock or any other effect to keep the reader plugged in.

Using just cliffhangers would be a really bad idea, but using them now and then really can work sometimes. I think it's more a matter of not over repeating something than the usage itself. Or when it's clear nothing, not even a crippling wound, will happen to the character.

Even that sometimes may not be an issue. I mean, you can perfectly know a character will escape/survive unscathed, but in certain situations what matters is how they overcome the situation or who helps them.

Ex: In Night Angel Kylar is immortal. That had a great chance of making it pretty boring, but there's a part where he is stabbed and thrown in a river. Then he thinks what would happen if he just reaches the bottom of the river and nobody finds him. Would he truly die, or would keep reviving and dieing drowned again a few moments later, over and over forever? That's something neither me or he had considered, and the chapter ends with him losing consciousness. Of course I turned the page right away, not in annoyance but really delighted with the situation.

Let's use a hypothetical situation. In Return of the Jedi, imagine if it ended when the Emperor was about to deliver the finishing blow. While "will the hero survive" would be a question, the main one would be "Will Vader help Luke or watch his own son die in front of him?" That's the decision and answer that would make the "next chapter" exciting, not if Luke will live.

So maybe that's the difference between a good and bad cliffhanger. Making something matter more than just "will the character survive?", possibly involving more characters and motives into the mix.
Slow and steady wins the race.

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