My 'newby writer' brain did not like this rule. But it's a whole story told in two books! I thought, How can the first book stand-alone? And cliffhangers are exciting! They make people want to know what happens next, right? RIGHT?
Well, yes. Here I switch into my 'long-time reader' brain. I do love a good cliffhanger. It's usually the reason I end up reading till three in the morning, because when I get to the end of a chapter I can't stop. I have to keep going.
Note I said chapter. Last night, at one in the morning, I finally managed to reconcile my reader and writer brains on this particular rule. How? I finished reading the fourth book of the Mortal Instruments series, City of Fallen Angels, by Cassandra Clare. It ended like this:
|Is that guy really naked and hanging from a cliff with not even a rope? I think he might be...|
But I did not do that. Instead I went: Aaaargh! I am so frustrated right now. I do NOT want to be left hanging for over a year to find out what happens. And now I'm ANGRY.
I did try to do this quietly though, because it was 1am and Ollie doesn't understand the need to read until the early hours of the morning, and would have also been angry if I'd woken him with a book tantrum.
So, the effect on my reader brain? Not so good. Will I buy the next book in the series? I don't know, if I'm honest. When May 2012 comes around, if I even remember reading the series, I'll be a bit worried that I'm going to be left with another cliffhanger ending which won't be resolved until September 2013 with book six.
I know that this is an unavoidable issue of traditional publishing that plagues series, and authors have no control over pub dates, but they do have control over the endings in their books, and not agitating their readers.
Oh! I get it now! says my writer brain.
I do wonder though, will self-pubbing change this? Would I be more forgiving if I only had to wait a few months until the next installment? Probably.
What do you think? Am I being too harsh? Do cliffhanger endings make you mad, and potentially harm an author's readership? Or are you willing to wait for the next book?