Saturday, September 10, 2016

Please Don’t Leave Me Hanging

By Karen McCullough

Warning: Rant Alert!

Like many people with ebook readers, I subscribe to a couple of those newsletters that offer lists of free and low-cost ebooks. Many of their listings aren’t my thing – wrong genres or types of stories that don’t appeal to me. But sometimes there are books that sound interesting, and I’m always on the lookout for good new reads.

I’ve learned to be cautious. If I don’t know the author, I read the free sample. If there’s no sample, I move onto the next offering. I’ve been burned a couple of times by books that sounded interesting, had an intriguing premise, but turned out to be poorly written or badly plotted. To be fair, I’ve also found a couple of new-to-me authors whose books I’ve really enjoyed.

Recently, though, I had a reading experience that left me just purely furious. It was a novella and it was pretty good. I was into it, enjoying the adventure with the characters. And then it stopped. I can’t say it ended because it had no ending. It just quit, with no resolution to the story. In fact, it left our protagonists in an uncomfortable position.

Did I immediately go and buy the next one in the series? No way. The story was pretty compelling, but not enough to overcome my distrust of the author. How could I know whether the next one would wrap up the story? How many books would it take? Does the author even know how it’s going to end?

I can handle a background story that may not be complete in this book as long as the main plot gets some sort of satisfying resolution. Let our heroes win this battle even though they haven’t won the war. I’m find if the author lets the characters accomplish something and take a breather before facing the next challenge.

I don’t mind reading a sample from a book—as long as I know it’s a sample, or part one of the story. I do rather mind paying for it, since essentially it’s just an advertisement to hook me into buying the next one. But, still, I’m okay with it as long as I know going into it that the story ends on a cliffhanger or isn’t complete in this book.

So authors, please!  If you’re going to end your book in the middle of the story, at least make sure it has a big, fat warning label.  Otherwise I’m going to feel betrayed when I get to the end and there is no resolution. And I’m never going to buy a book from you again.

Amended to add:

Because I’m going to be on vacation for the last part of August, I’ve written this well ahead of time and this morning I discovered a similar rant posted here:

1 comment:

  1. I agree, Karen. There are few things that annoy me as much as a story that doesn't have a satisfactory ending. That doesn't necessarily mean a happy ending. Readers begin a book expecting to be told a story, to see how characters respond to whatever challenges the writer presents to them, and to see some kind of resolution to the problem. When a writer leaves the reader hanging, she isn't keeping up her end of the bargain.