I was so excited to participate in the blog tour for Descendant by Lesley Livingston. I couldn’t wait to hear what Lesley had to say about Cliffhangers, and she explains her point of view perfectly in the guest post below. PLUS Lesley is giving away 2 SIGNED sets of Starling and Descendant! How awesome is that! Be sure to check out the other blogs participating in this tour listed on the schedule below. And definitely don’t forget to enter the Rafflecopter to win this set of signed books by this fabulous author!!
Cliffhangers: how to end a story to keep the reader satisfied yet still wanting more.
- Lesley Livingston
Ha! I suppose this is a particularly appropriate question to kick off the DESCENDANT blog tour with, considering the ending of STARLING, the first book in this series!
Tom Petty famously sang “The waiting is the hardest part…” and Mr. Spock once said “After a time, you may find that having is not so pleasing a thing, after all, as wanting…” and they both make a valid point. Anticipation can be both torturous and thrilling. And it’s not something to be invoked lightly by an author, or you risk invoking the wrath of the readership.
Obviously, there are some readers out there who aren’t that fond of the concept of the “cliffhanger”, and—hey—I remember distinctly my reaction to the end of STAR WARS: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK all those years ago: “Seriously? You’re just gonna leave us hanging with Han Solo frozen in carbonite…? SERIOUSLY?” Yup. They were just gonna do exactly that. Audiences were stunned. But, you know what? It made it that much better the next time you sat down in a theater with a bucket of popcorn, waiting for the lights to go down and that familiar text-crawl up the screen to start.
Full disclosure: I am fond of serial storytelling. In fact, I revel in it as both a reader and a writer. And I don’t mind waiting for the next installment. There is that element of being on tenterhooks, building anticipation, that appeals to me: “Harry Dresden’s what? Where’s the next book dammit?” or “You did what to Buffy at the end of the season 5? And we have to wait until when for the next one??” Just look at the incredible buzz surrounding the return of a series like BREAKING BAD.
Suspense whets the appetite for what comes next.
But (there’s always a “but”, isn’t there?), suspense cannot—in my opinion—come at the expense of plot. The cliffhanger has to be something organic to the story itself, and to the characters in the story. Just ending a book for the purposes of making the reader have to pick up the next installment, or because your story is running long so you decide to chop it into pieces, isn’t the way to approach this particular story tool. And the cliffhanger is most definitely a dramatic tool—a function of structure and character journey. The cliffhanger—again, in my opinion—is a moment in the story where everything hinges, changes, comes to a breaking point where the story is bound, naturally, to go in a different direction.
I tend to write series books and, to that end, I frequently build in my cliffhanger endings right in the initial plotting stages. Even if I don’t know exactly how the books will unfold, I usually have a good idea of the major turning points. And if there is a cliffhanger I will almost always start the next book right where the one before it left off. Because unless it’s a companion story and not a direct sequel, the next book is usually part of the same overarching story arc. It’s just the next act in the play.
Of course, the arc within the individual book itself has to be there. It has to exist, grow, change… reach a point where something happens that will set the characters off in another direction. At the end of the first STARLING book, an essentially world-shattering thing happens to both Mason and Fennrys—something that leaves Fennrys wounded, desperate, and with a whole new set of goals to achieve; and which, at the same time, blows Mason’s entire life and how she has always perceived it wide open, fundamentally changing her as a person. It’s a massive turning point, not just for them, but for their friends and enemies. It marks the next chapter in their story. It is both an ending… and a beginning.
And that is where DESCENDANT picks up the thread.
The cliffhanger is a like a launchpad or a rocket-booster. And hopefully, if you’ve done it right, your readers are already onboard for the next stage of the journey. And you, the author, get to sit back and read emails for the next year that contain all sorts of variations on the phrase: “GAH!! Where’s the NEXT BOOK??”
Author: Lesley Livingston
Pub. Date: August 27, 2013
The last thing Mason Starling remembers is the train crossing a bridge. An explosion . . . a blinding light . . . then darkness. Now she is alone, stranded in Asgard—the realm of Norse legend—and the only way for her to get home is to find the Spear of Odin, a powerful relic left behind by vanished gods.
The Fennrys Wolf knows all about Asgard. He was once trapped there. And he’ll do whatever it takes to find the girl who’s stolen his heart and bring her back—even if it means a treacherous descent into the Underworld. But time is running out, and Fenn knows something Mason doesn’t: If she takes up the Spear, she’ll set in motion a terrible prophecy. And she won’t just return to her world . . . she’ll destroy it.
In this pulse-pounding sequel to Starling, Lesley Livingston delivers another electrifying blend of nonstop action and undeniable romance that will leave readers breathless.
Lesley Livingston is a writer and actress living in Toronto. She has a master's degree in English from the University of Toronto, where she specialized in Arthurian Literature and Shakespeare. She frequently performs with the Tempest Theatre Group, of which she is a co-founder. She is also the author of WONDROUS STRANGE and DARKLIGHT.
You can visit Lesley online at www.lesleylivingston.com
2 signed sets of STARLING & DESCENDANT Us/Canada Onlya Rafflecopter giveaway
8/19/2013- The Happy Booker- Guest Post
8/20/2013- Bewitched Bookworms- Interview
8/21/2013- IceyBooks- Review
8/22/2013- Tater's Tall Tails- Guest Post
8/23/2013- [B.O.O.K.L.I.F.E.]- Review
8/26/2013- Fiktshun- Character Interview Fennrys
8/27/2013- Wholly Books- Review
8/28/2013- Book Jems- Review
8/29/2013- Two Chicks on Books- Guest Post
8/30/2013- About to Read- Interview