First of all, my deepest apologies for this past chaotic week of semi-blogging. I saw a lot of new people drop by and comment. I usually am better about getting to your blog and commenting, and I'll try to catch up.
On to the subject of today: Cliffhangers! Merriam-webster defines a cliffhanger as "an adventure serial or melodrama; especially : one presented in installments each ending in suspense." So, basically in writing, what we'd call a series.
In my opinion, there are three different types of cliffhanger endings:
1) Book #1 has a complete resolution. You are left curious about the characters' lives and futures and would read book #2, but the conflict of book #1 is over. Think: The Boxcar Children, Sweet Valley Twins, etc.
2) Book #1 resolves one conflict, but a bigger one is left open. Or a new conflict begins right at the ending. This leaves the reader unresolved and eager to pick up the next book. Think: Fablehaven, Gregor the Overlander.
3) Book #1 is the first half of a story, and there is little or no resolution between book #1 and book #2. The story continues in book #2 right where book #1 left off. Sometimes the characters might think the story is resolved but the reader knows otherwise. Think: Lord of the Rings, The Hunger Games, Maze Runner.
In general, I think that #3 is becoming very popular. And I think it's a smart move on the part of publishers and authors. There's always the possibility that a reader forgets how much they liked the book and the characters between books #1 and #2, especially if there's a lengthy wait in between book releases. That's not likely to happen if there's no resolution. Those characters and that book are going to be on the forefront of the reader's mind, waiting for the ending. (Think: Harry Potter.)
Of course, there are always the moments when you pick up a book thinking it is a story on its own, only to reach the end and go, "No!!! I have to get the other book!!!"
Then there is always the chance that a publisher might be reluctant to take on your book if it's a #3 cliffhanger. After all, what if the book doesn't sell well? They're not going to publish your sequel. It's like asking them to take a chance on two books instead of just one. At least with a #2, the book can stand on its own.
What are your thoughts? Do you like series? What sort of cliffhanger do you like? What kind are you writing? (My book Perilous is a #3, btw. So be prepared to want the sequel.)