Cliffhangers And Cliff Dwellers
It’s the heights thing. I’m afraid of heights. And having to scale down a mountain to get home every night would have freaked me out. And these people didn’t use ropes and such to get down to their house, they just had toe holds (which you could still see in the rock.)
(This is a view looking down at the tour right before ours to Cliff Palace.)
(This is looking at Cliff Palace from the other side of the canyon. Can you imagine climbing up or down to that?)
The Ancestral Puebloans had some amazing architecture, though, and ingenious ways to store food and get rid of waste. (Did you know they recycled water to make their bricks? My kids were a teeny bit grossed out at that one and what “recycled water” really meant.)
(This city is just clinging to the cliff!)
And now that I’ve possibly grossed you out, I will move on to my topic du jour. Cliffhangers. Does anyone love them? Especially when it can take a year or two for the second book to come out?
I recently read the last book in a series in which each book had been left with a serious cliffhanger. Honestly, it had been so long since I’d read the first books in the series I couldn’t remember some of the plot and had to go back and re-read those in order to understand the last one. It was frustrating. So, like the ancestral puebloans, even if the writing/architecture of the story was amazing, I still had a hard time getting into it. My toe hold was tenuous at best.
(This is called Newspaper Rock and has art from Ancestral Puebloans and others. My theory is that Ancestral Puebloans didn't like cliffhangers either and kept adding and adding to the story so no one would have to be left on the edge of their seat so to speak. Or else they loved cliffhangers and this is the ultimate cliffhanger story that went on for hundreds of years. Which, if the latter is true, would cement my opinion that I would have made a horrible Ancestral Puebloan. I would have been the one standing there with my chisel all day trying to finish the story so no one would have to wonder how it's all going to end.)
So why do authors do cliffhangers? Is it merely to sell the next book? Or drive readers like me crazy? Don’t authors feel bad manipulating their readers into being so desperate to find out what happens next? They take us to dizzying heights in the book, make us love the story and the characters and then bam! It’s over with, and a main character is shot and bleeding until the next book comes out which could be a year, or two, or never?
I tend to avoid cliffhangers if I can. My favorite authors are generally those who tie up the story to a satisfying conclusion. I don’t mind if there’s a loose end that can go into the next book, but I really don’t like the out and out cliffhanger where something really awful happens in the last paragraph. (Don’t be offended if you are a cliffhanger author. I probably still like you and love your work, but if I know you are a cliffhanger author I will try to wait until all your books in the series are out before I read them.)
So what are your opinions on cliffhangers? Are you one of those people who love them and go to the midnight release to get the next book to find out what happens? Or do you hate them and avoid them where possible? Who are your favorite cliffhanger authors?