Series, Serials, and Cliffhangers
J: so, I’m currently about 50% through the fourth book in Elizabeth Hunter’s series
and our stalking paid off
she has agreed to a guest post
M: You read three books in a week? Woo-hoo! They must be good
J: um, yes
they’re really addictive
I know I need to read up on The Painting of Porcupine City so our interview with Ben Monopoli doesn’t spoil it for me
so that’s next. I promise
M: That’s one of the things that makes series so fun. If you like them, you can pick up the next.
fun for both the reader and writer to stay in an intriguing world
J: yeah, but I’m not a fan of the cliffhanger thing. There are a few reasons for a cliffhanger, and none are good
the first is that you’re too wordy to fit everything in one book, so you split at a vital point
the second is that you aren’t sure if you created a compelling enough story to keep readers coming back for more
so you have to trick them
M: Some cliffhangers are good, to build suspense, keep the reader wanting to turn the page. I love a good cliffhanger when used like that.
What I’ve found annoying is those books that are written to end on a huge “cliffhanger” for the sole purpose of getting you to buy the next. You get 130 pages for 2.99 and the story just ends in the middle of the scene, so you have to pay another 2.99 for the next 130 pages if you want to read the rest of the story.
And then you find out there are like four “books” in the series like that
to me, those aren’t really cliffhangers. Those are just ending in the middle of a scene.
J: there is that, too
M: There are the serial novels, which is a much better alternative
I mentioned a couple I’m reading a week or so ago
Where you pay one price and get installments automatically delivered to your Kindle
J: I could get behind something like that. Would be like a TV show
M: but you know in advance the (reasonable) full price and when you’ll get the next episode
J: yeah, instead of getting to the end and finding out you have to fork over more money
M: exactly. You can make a fully informed choice from the beginning
J: i love a good series, though. I love an epic story that requires more than one book to tell
M: I wonder if the new interest in the serialized novels is a reflection of the proven popularity of fanfiction. They do follow a similar format
J: I thought that, too
are they all dramatic and soap opera-y?
do you hear “dun dun dun!” in your head when you finish an installment?
M: some are, just like any book
J: She turned to see who was at the door and gasped.
tune in next time!
M: it’s like the ending of a chapter, though. They’re ended that way to keep you turning the page
whether it’s a serial or a traditional book
J: well, I can get behind it because you know what you’re getting when you go in
M: In that format, a cliffhanger is, I don’t know, more accepted. Expected.
When one just ends only to sucker you into buying the next…I’m not 100% sure how I feel about that, but mostly no likey
J: accepted because you know the rest is coming
I really no likey
and usually enough to abandon ship
M: Yeah. I read one like that recently. Thank goodness the first one was free – which is a whole ‘nother subject, I think. And the story was fairly good, but then, it just ended in the middle of an action scene, and the next book was 2 or 3.99. And the next, and the next.
M: And even though I did like the story and would have liked to read more and see what happened – oh, hell no.
J: I feel you
M: I was annoyed
as both a reader and a writer
J: and I bet a lot of people agree with us
except, of course, the authors who exploit their readers in this way
M: and then there are those novellas – which are really popular right now – that just…end
J: oh, I’m a fan of the novella. bite-size fun
M: I like them, too. I mean, I understand the shortened nature of them and how difficult it can be to get in enough character and story development, but it’s just frustrating, to enjoy a story and characters so much, for the author to have done such a good job with the rest of the story, and then…
wah, wah, wah wahhhhhhh
J: but if you have to end without an ending, you probably should have made it a full novel
M: or, you know, come up with a better ending
J: oh, yeah
what I think is a fun idea are the novellas centered on side characters in a series
M: Oh, I like those, too. It’s like a special surprise bonus to revisit a world you loved and characters you want to know more about. I think it’s cool that ebooks seemed to have opened that up as an option. made it more viable.
Oh, hang on. I need to see who’s at the door
Tune in next week!