Books,  Writing World

On Cliff-Hanger Endings

I’ll be honest. Not a fan. I was relieved when I finally read Hunger Games (due to impending movie release and no other reason) that all the books were out when I read it. It was recommended to me years ago, but I rejected it because the concept grossed me out. All this said, let’s say I did read them as they came out. I would have been one pissed off cookie (or whatever I am.) Especially the ending to Catching Fire. Like, that’s so messed up to end a book that way! But I didn’t care because I had book 3 ready to go.

So, to me a cliffhanger ending is when the main plot line isn’t resolved by the end of the story. I’m totally okay with everything not being tied in a neat bow, leaving subplots open, and leaving room for a sequel. I’m not okay with the book ending and the bad guy is still running around. Imagine ending The Little Mermaid right after Ursula shows up at the castle as Vanessa! OMG! NOOO!

Back in the day, my endings would go something like this: BIG fight scene, villain falls, MC looks down at dusty corpse and shrugs, and then goes inside for some iced lemonade — the end. In fact, when my friends would ask to read my stories, I had to warn them that the endings were crap. Yeah, I knew it. And they all agreed. Lol! But it was SUCH a freaking struggle for me. How to wrap things up. I didn’t want to go on too long because that drove me crazy, but there’s a happy medium, you know, between long, drawn out endings and books that just…end.

And then there are the books that don’t end at all.

And OMG, I just now realized that I ended my last vampire story (almost 3 years ago!) on a cliff hanger. Lol! That’s funny. ^_^ In my defense, the objective of the story was to get the special magical object thing and they did that so…totally different, right? No? (I’m slow.)

Anywho, this is why I love Harry Potter so much. True there are loose threads dangling from book to book, but at the end of the book, the main plot point is wrapped up and there’s a satisfying wrap up chapter after the dust from all the action has settled. I wasn’t left like, freaking out, you know. I felt like I could wait for Book 7…kind of. And it helped that in the meantime I could reread some of the other books to keep me from forgetting stuff.

I wish I could write endings like that. I wish everyone was so thoughtful.

The thing about cliff hanger endings though (and cliff hanger chapters)…I feel like I’m being manipulated. So I immediately rebel and hate it instead. I’ll show THEM to manipulate a manipulator. ^_^

Really though, if I’m reading a book that does that. I immediately have to put it down because I’m mad and that might affect how I perceive the next installment. Hint: it’ll be negative.

I understand if people have a sweeping series planned (not my forte, I’ll admit), certain plot lines are going to be left hanging. They are. But at least, for the love of God, make it satisfying! The ending to Hunger Games Book 1 pissed me off. In a strange turn of events, I thought the ending to Catching Fire was AMAZING! I literally said, out loud to my cat, “That was Awesome.” I might would have felt different if I didn’t have Mockingjay waiting for me on my Kindle app though. I might have cussed a book out.


  • Lillith

    I don’t enjoy cliff-hangers either. Ambiguous endings are fine, they wrap things up while allowing the reader to imagine more. But they still end the main plotline, which is what a good ending does.

  • Michelle A (@SunflowerRei)

    I don’t really like cliffhanger endings either. It’s part of the reason why I seem to always read series when they’re mostly out and published already, because I’m afraid of the potential cliffhangers in there. Like Lillith said, ambiguous or unhappy or bitter endings, I’m fine with. But if ambiguous ending is too ambiguous (I read a book like that last year), then it’s equally frustrating as a cliffhanger.

  • Michelle Tran (@michelletwrites)

    I hate cliffhangers. There’s nothing more that pisses me off then when I take the time to read and complete the book and it leaves me on the edge. It’s like, how could you do this to me after all the pages we’ve been through together! Agh! Loose-ends? Fine, I can deal, but when you take the rug right from under me, that’s when I can’t.

    • krystal jane

      I know right! Reading takes time, it’s SO unsatisfying when you get to the end and it’s a freaking rickety bridge that disappears into some fog or a cliff or something!

  • Thea Landen

    Yep, same here. I agree that in a lot of cases a cliffhanger ending feels like nothing more than a manipulation tactic. If the writing quality isn’t there, I’m not going to be losing sleep over what happens next to characters and places I don’t care about, and no, I will not be spending any more money on the series.

    (That said, I do love The Hunger Games. But like you, I didn’t read them until all the books were out.)

    • krystal jane

      It does feel that way! I hate feeling manipulated. I immediately rebel against it. But Hunger Games is special. I don’t feel like she was trying to drive people too, too crazy. 🙂

  • Jodi

    I agree–I just DON’T LIKE cliffhangers. The worst are those cliffhanger endings in which the authors seem to have no idea how to tie up all the erratic threads they’ve created (i.e. the Divergent Series). When I set out to write Chasing Echoes, one of my goals was to make sure my main conflict was resolved by the end of the novel, with an underlying thread running through all four books to keep the series going. I’m a firm believer that all books should be stand alone–whether they’re part of a series or not. Of course, I just read a novella called ‘Never Never’ which had the most cliffhanger-ish cliffhanger ending you can possibly have–and I loved it! I even love the way this ending is torturing me because I think it’s brilliant! (Next book doesn’t come out ’til April). So maybe my loathing for cliffhanger endings isn’t as reliable as I’m thinking.

    • krystal jane

      Hey, there are always exceptions! I LOATHE love triangles, but I read one a couple of years ago that was just perfect. Perfect! But I love underlying threads in a series, like in Harry Potter. And I did just read a short story that set everything up and then just ended! It was pretty awesome.

      Exception. ^_^
      What is that writing saying: you can do anything if you do it right. ^_^

  • Tonja Drecker

    I’m all with you on this one. I dispise cliff-hanger endings. This might sound a bit harsh, but I feel like the author is trying to force me to buy another book. Like “you want to see where this story goes. . .ha! not until you get volume 2 or 3” I remember when that happened in the Matrix movie (2). I was so ticked. Even if the book is good, sometimes it’s enough to make me refuse to get the next one just for spite.
    I guess I’m kind of strange in that way 😉

    • krystal jane

      Yeah! Not strange at all! I feel like that, too. I won’t even pick up a book sometimes if I hear it has some whacked ending. And I can’t stand when movies do it either. Or TV shows. It’s like really? You want me to watch next season to see what happens? *delete* Lol!

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