Friday, December 5, 2014

Cliffhangers

As a new writer, I know I'm not the best novelist. I'm learning. Even with three self published books under my belt, I have a lot to learn. And I'm often reminded that writing is a life long learning process. I started my writing career with a three-book trilogy. I have many characters and a big storyline for my first trilogy. While I read comments and reviews stating my book could have been condensed to one, I know that it can't. I also know that as a reader, I like lengthy stories that take me from book one to book three. A very popular series just published a fourth book when everyone who has read it assumed it was three books. Many hated the idea of being strung along. I preordered book four because the author is a rock star in my eyes. She has an amazing narrative and I want to see how she concludes her story. I have no doubt that she has cornered the genre to bring a highly psychological and suspenseful story. Hollywood saw it too and is now producing a series for cable television. I am delighted for her and to watch what I've read on my flat screen tv, once a week for however long it will be produced.

When you write a trilogy or five books, or even ten books in a series, you will have to conclude the book in some sort of way. It can be a "happy for now", "happily continued on book X", or "dun, dun, dun--Cliffhanger." I write the cliffhangers in my erotic suspense book. I left you breadcrumbs in Book One of my series, The Pentagon Group. Yes, there is a lot of sex in that book. But if you hang on to read book two and then progress to book three, you will read the complete wrap up, explaining the beginning to the very end--I'm not guaranteeing a happily ever after because I find that information to be a spoiler.

Many readers need hints or heads up as to how it finishes off, and ask for any of the three above. Many of my reviews have listed the book as having a huge cliffy. I recently read comments on a review, which discussed how much they disliked my first book because it had a cliffy and no backstory. Well, I guess I could have found more of a creative way to give more backstory, or the reader could have read the breadcrumbs and not be so surprised in the end. Or they would still be surprised, and eager to read the next book. If a reader didn't like my first book, then the second book would be no better for the reader, and the last book won't make you love me any more.

Why wasn't there much of a backstory for the big cliffy I ended with? Because the first book is written in first person point of view. The main character, who narrates the story, is unaware of what anyone else is doing covertly around her. She is giving you her perspective and the information she is aware of and what matters to her. She may be blinded by the circumstances she participated in. If I wrote third person point of view, I should be slammed for giving little backstory because I had every opportunity to do so. In book two, the reader gets both the hero and heroine's point of view, so you aren't as oblivious as the reader was in book one. Like I said, the story gets better as I've gotten better, and as the points of view was expanded.

Cliffhangers are great if you love suspense and drama. If you want happily-ever-after or 'for now', I didn't give you that in Book One. Why am I writing all this? Because I don't want readers who hate reading cliffhangers to discourage other readers from buying my book or anyone else's book who employ cliffhangers to introduce their next book. To say I'm trying to make money by writing a huge cliffhanger is right. Yeah, I'm trying to make money for you to continue the story. It was a natural break for my book. Next book picks right up from there. Then book three will pick up from the second book. I am trying to make money from each book. Would a reader rather buy my first-time-writing series for $15 and have 300,000 words to read in one sitting, or would you prefer to stagger it a bit and be thrilled to see what happens by picking up the next book? I can make it a bundle when everything is said and done, but with the complaints from readers about ebook prices, I doubt they'd buy my $15 book even with 300K words; especially not as a first time author.

It is fine if you warn other readers of the cliffy, but don't discourage a person from continuing onto the next book with negative sentiments. Authors have feelings and are trying to make it in the industry. It is hard enough to get noticed and have our books read, when you have reviewers and administrators of book groups say an author is only trying to make money, it will turn off future readers from what could be their favorite book or series. I don't expect to get a film or television deal, but I want as many people to read my books as possible so I can be encouraged to write and bring more stories to readers who did like my book. And for every negative Nelly, I've had readers who've equated my books to the previously referenced author with the upcoming TV series. I'm happy that they think highly of my writing style and are following me in social media. Hopefully, they will spread the word about my writing to squash the negative talk.

And I won't stop writing cliffhangers, so you are officially forewarned that Rosemary Rey is a cliffy-whore and a cliffy will be ending every book subtitled BOOK ONE.

1 comment:

Meetta M said...

An author's career is to write books which makes them money. Just like it is a doctor's career is to help people AND MAKE MONEY. It would be difficult for me to believe anybody who tells me differently. Authors have to make a living too.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, when I go to buy books that I know are part of a series, I look to see if its the same characters in the following book. If it is, then I do expect some sort of cliffhanger. To me, that's the point of a series. If there wasn't a cliffhanger, it's not a series (to me). A lot of times, a second or third book is written because the fans wanted more, so yes, those books might not have cliffhangers because the story was never intended to be a series in the first place (such as the Mid Life Love series by Whitney Gracia Williams).

Your books have a good length to them. There are a lot of serial books out there that truly could be combined into one book (i.e. book one has 45 pages, book two has 54, etc). But like one author pointed out, she could charge 99 cents for each book or combine all three books for $2.99. Comes out about the same.

I do have to admit that it can be challenging to write reviews for a book that I give three or less stars to. Just because a book isn't for me, doesn't mean someone else won't like it. As I have been interacting with more and more authors I realize how important reviews are. You want to be honest, but at the same time you don't want to necessarily discourage anyone from reading their book. Not every book by an author you enjoy are you going to like. If I didn't care for the book that much, I will put why, but I have been also mindful of trying to put what I did like about the book to balance it out. I never want to hurt an author's feelings. I have seen people's reviews such as "it was stupid" or the heroine was such an idiot, etc. There are definitely better ways to express your opinions than reverting back to grade school behavior.

I am, and always will be, your number one fan of your Pentagon Group books (I will shove anyone else down who tries to say that they are...they can be number 2 lol)

I think it's great that you have this blog!

Much love!