Recently, I’ve been attending many book events, writing a lot and having a lot of conversations about books and the choices that authors make vs what the reader truly wants. We all know that an author eventually can sneak in a relationship that everyone has been rooting for, and basically write that fanfic that everyone wants, however, is it really down to the reader to let the author know what they want to read? Or should readers accept stories as they were intended to be written?
I was having a conversation recently about Patrick Ness’ The Knife Of Never Letting Go and how the first book in the Chaos Walking series ends. Admittedly it is left on a pretty big cliffhanger, one that is even quite annoying to a lot of people. But it posed the question of was this an artistic choice made by the author, a sales technique or just annoying for the reader to not have the story wrapped up at the end?
One side of this conversation was that the story should be the readers and a reader should feel fulfilled at the end of a book that something has been resolved – this isn’t taken directly from conversation, more so what i interpret from that and wanted to writer about. A book should wrap up enough at the end so the reader has a choice whether to carry on with a series (I’m solely discussing this series in this particular, The Knife Of Never Letting Go does not allow that solution at the end of the book and forces the reader to continue on with the series if they want to know what happens in the story). Maybe there is a point to this argument, where the reader has put so much time in to a story and they expect some pay off from the writer at the end. It can be a difficult notion that the author might not wrap up the story in one go, and as series are rising in popularity in the YA world, it seems that authors are less likely to want to finish their story in one book.
However, the opposite side to this conversation is the point that the author should be able to choose the direction that the book goes in and the style they want to write in, regardless of the reader. I have always been taught that you write first and foremost for yourself, and there will always be someone who relates to the story that you are telling. I think this is an excellent point when thinking about cliffhangers at the end of novels, it is the authors choice where they choose to build tension and break a story. They have also been planning this series most likely for a some time, allowing them time to figure out where the best place to leave the story would be to draw the reader in. After all, isn’t reading about being drawn in to a story?
I personally really enjoy having cliffhangers at the end of books and they truly make me want to read on in a series and find out what happens to the characters. I think that is the authors choice to make, and maybe i’m too much of an easy going reader, but any way that a story is stylistically styled, i’ll generally be happy about. It’s a way to dive in to the writers mind and figure out how words lay in their minds, and how they choose to put them on paper says a lot i think.
Something that leads on to this is the publishing side of a book that is rarely talked about when discussing the stylistics of a story. If a book ends on such a cliffhanger, it means that more people will be interested in reading the next book. Upping the sales and the profile of the author. I know this is something that feels as though publishers and authors are ‘cheating’ you out of your money and time, but it makes sense to keep the business alive.
As i said above, i completely understand why an author would choose to write in a certain way. From seemingly strange gaps in the text, to story and character choices, to putting a massive cliffhanger right at the end of a book, i think this is what makes stories and writing unique, and it’s what i love about writing my own fiction.
This topic is definitely something to be discussed, and i really enjoyed thinking about it in a little more depth. If you have any comments about it, leave me a message below and let’s start a conversation about the style of writing and if there are any rights or wrongs.