We’ve talked about many different types of “fireworks” this month as associated with all things books: debut day, romance, etc. But I have to say that, personally, my most favorite of all the literary fireworks in general is the one that just goes BOOM and then leaves you hanging.
But a very specific kind of cliffhanger: the chapter-ending cliffhanger.
I do not like books that end in cliffhangers. In fact, if I get wind at all that a book ends with a “too be continued,” chances are I’ll wait until the next book comes out to pick up the first.
This isn’t exactly what the author or publisher want me to do, but I’d much rather push several books in my to-be-read pile to the top than read a book with an unsatisfying ending and then have to pick the story line up again in a year.
Sure, you have to leave some things unanswered in a series, but if the arc just does an anvil-assisted Wile E. Coyote hop off a cliff for a year, chances are I’ll wait the year rather than torture myself. (And, yes, I read the Game of Thrones books. I do think George R.R. Martin answers enough questions that I can’t get mad at him between books.)
That said, the chapter-ending cliffhangers are perfect. They’re my favorite thing to write and they’re my favorite thing to read, especially in my beloved crime novels. I love how they push the plot forward, keep you on your toes, and skew the story in any possible direction. The just work as a device and add so much tone to the piece as a whole.
What’s your favorite writing device/firework?