Musing Mondays | May 20 2013


Musing Mondays is a weekly event where MizB at Should Be Reading will ask a book/reading-related question, and you answer with your own thoughts on the topic.

Farzy’s Two Types of Cliffhangers

Anyone who knows me knows how much I hate cliffhangers. However, when you’re reading a book series (and I read a lot of book series) cliffhangers are inevitable, one book or another will end in a cliffhanger, just to make the readers look forward to the next book in a series. This doesn’t mean the plot threads need to be all polished by the final page, but it would be nice if the main conflict of the specific book is resolved.

This is ironic since most of the books I read ends in a cliffhanger and most of those books are my favorite. The thing is, the ending of a book (whether it’s a cliffhanger or not) doesn’t affect how I appreciate or like a book. There are a lot of reasons for me to love a book (character development, plot, unique names of the characters, the dialogue, etc). More often than not, the ending of a book doesn’t affect my love for the book, it may end in a cliffhanger and I’d still love it. But, I hate cliffhangers as they are.

According to Google there are different types of cliffhangers (secret revealed, question left in the air, dangerous emotions etc) but for me there are only two types of cliffhangers, the WTF cliffhangers and the “Teaser” cliffhangers.

• The WTF cliffhanger

This is the kind of cliffhanger that ends abruptly without solving the main conflict of the book. It’s like the author picked a random page in the manuscript and was like, “I’m done for this book, I’ll just end it here”.

It’s not cool, okay? I spend time reading your book and how dare you not give me a definite ending at the end of the book. How dare you? But the author may argue, “That is to make way for the next book in the series.”

Before I get to that let me tell you that there two types of conflict I observed by reading too much fiction. The “main conflict” that runs through the whole series (i.e. Voldemort trying to kill Harry Potter in all seven Harry Potter books) and the “mini conflict” (I don’t know what to call this, but you get the point) that is the main conflict of a specific book in a series (i.e. Harry finding out that it wasn’t Sirius who betrayed his parents in the Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban or Harry rescuing Ginny from the basilisk in the Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets).

So back to the argument, it’s okay to end a book in a cliffhanger if the mini conflict is solved. Just don’t leave the readers in the dark and keep them guessing. Because they tend to make crazy and outrageous theories and they’d keep on thinking about it at night to the point that they lose sleep.

But if the author really wants to end the book in a cliffhanger to make way for the next book in the series, here’s where the next kind of cliffhanger comes in.

• The “Teaser” cliffhanger

The teaser cliffhanger is like a preview or well, teaser to the next book in the series. When the mini conflict is solved, the author can sneak a teaser in the form of a cliffhanger. Although it can still lead to crazy and outrageous theories, at least the readers won’t be like, “What the hell just happened?” At least the readers will have an idea what to expect and look forward to in the next book.

Ending a book in a cliffhanger is like opening your chest to take out your heart. When the book ends in a WTF cliffhanger, it’s like opening your chest without anesthesia, while ending the book in a teaser cliffhanger is just as bad, only you’re anesthetized this time.

Excuse my crappy analogy.

But what if it’s a standalone novel?

Well, crap! I will rip the book to pieces! You might as well kill me, especially is it’s a really good book. I’d kick cliffhanger in the face! Yep, that’s how much I hate it.

Even though cliffhangers are impossibly unavoidable I hope to read as less books that ends in a cliffhanger as possible because they ruin things for me.

How about you, do you love/hate cliffhangers?

8 thoughts on “Musing Mondays | May 20 2013

  1. You have nicely broken down the two types of cliffhangers. When the mini-conflict is resolved, I have no problem with cliffhangers. Actually, until you mentioned it, I never really thought of this technique as a cliffhanger. 🙂 When a book ends abruptly, or just as bad includes a teaser, I hate it. Such a betrayal can make me scream, say mean words, and throw my book across the floor.

    Ironically, I don’t feel that way about movies. In fact, sometimes I even like or expect a cliffhanger to certain movies. That way, I know a sequel is hoped for or in the works. Perhaps, this technique has been around long around on the screen that I’m used to it.

    Maybe it’ll work that way with books one day too? At the moment though, I prefer for my books to have tidy endings. 🙂

    • It was 3 am when i wrote this and i honestly just thought it was just a senseless rambling but thank you 🙂
      i dont mind cliffhangers in movies too but with books it much more different, i guess one of the reasons is that i get more attached to book characters too much.
      me too, i prefer my books with tidy endings 😀
      thanks for taking the time to read and comment 😀

  2. Great post! I like your examples of the two types of cliffhangers. They don’t typically bother me unless I feel like they are there JUST so I’ll read the next book, which is something I’ve found quite often lately. It’s like, the book could be a standalone, but instead the author introduces something crazy at the very end.
    I think some plots and stories can use cliffhangers and they feel like they’re supposed to be there. If that makes sense. It only bothers me if I know it’s a gimmick to make me want book #2 when I would have been fine without it before.
    Thanks for stopping by!

    • One example of a series that can be a standalone is Pretty Little Liars. I hate how the author introduces the juiciest part of the book at the very end, and here you are very willing to buy the book because you love it so much. I can’t help think it’s a marketing ploy of some kind to sell more books.

  3. Haha cliffhangers drive me crazy too! I almost expect them in dystopian books but I loathe them in contemporary! You are so right, an ending on a standalone is the worst thing ever!

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