Kelley Armstrong — Thanks and Index

A big thank you to Kelley Armstrong for guestblogging.  I like to include a list of each guest writer’s posts so that people can have one page to link to as a handy reference, so see the following list.  Kelley is interested in what you have to say, too, so if you haven’t commented on any of her posts yet, take a few moments to answer some of the interesting questions she has asked.  Do so before November 29th, and you’ll be eligible to win a prize.  

You can also pick up one of this prolific bestselling author’s many books on amazon.com.

Is That a Cliff I See Yawning Before Me?

Cliffhanger endings. Like ’em or loathe ’em?

For me…both. It depends on the medium. In serialized fiction, they’re good. In TV shows, they’re fine. Book and movies? Not so much. I suppose that’s because, with the other two formats, I expect cliffhangers and I know my resolution is coming soon and I won’t shell out a lot of cash to get it (as I mentioned in my last blog, I’m cheap)

When a movie ends in a cliffhanger (Pirates OTC 2 anyone?), I get annoyed. Sure, I was planning on seeing #3, but I don’t like feeling pushed into it.

Same thing with books. My classic example? A series I enjoyed until a book ended with the heroine finally picking a romantic choice…and we wouldn’t find out who until the next book. I was pissed. Had the next one been paperback, I would have bought it, but it was still hardcover, so I felt I was being pushed into buying the more expensive format…and I hate reading hardcover. Never read another book in the series. Yeah, it was a small thing, but I’m cranky and I’m stubborn.

Now, as I launch a young adult trilogy next year, the first book ends in what I suspect some will call a cliffhanger. I’d call it a hook. I’m probably splitting hairs, but when I give writing workshops, I talk about ending chapters with “hooks” to keep the reader turning the pages. To me, a cliffhanger is having the character pick a romantic interest…and making the reader wait a book to find out who it is. A hook is ending the book at a point where the protagonist is obviously in deep sh*t (it’s YA, I can’t swear), but she’s not hanging from a cliff, about to drop at any second.

I have agonized over this ending. It’s a trilogy with an overarching plot, so there was no “resolution” possible yet.

Originally, I did end it with a true cliffhanger. Everything goes to sh*t…curtain drops. Ouch. I knew I could never do that to readers. So I added a chapter, answering some questions and getting the protagonist into a temporarily safe place–a cave on the cliffside, if you will.

I know I’ll catch flak. And I may piss some readers off–which I hate to do. If it was me reading the book, I think I’d be okay with it but, yeah, I might feel a little manipulated into buying the next book to get all my questions answered.

So, toss in your ten cents. How do you feel about cliffhangers? About hooks? Is there a difference?

If an author clearly states this book one of a trilogy, do you expect an open ending and unanswered questions? Or do you want a temporary wrap up?

Kelley Armstrong is the NYT bestselling author of the urban fantasy series, The Otherworld. For info on her novels or to read sample chapters, check out her website at www.KelleyArmstrong.com.