To Cliff-Hang or Not
It’s August. Wow. So far this has been a busy summer. We have been cleaning our backyard, a task we’ve put off since we finished the last round of renovations. We’re hopeful we’ll get it cleaned up so we can spend at least one weekend outside lounging. I have this fantasy of sitting outside with a glass of wine and a charcuterie board reading and writing. I’m very hopeful this will happen this summer. I may even open one of the bottles I brought back from France.
The other thing I’m hopeful will happen this summer is the completion of my book The Good Girl Part Four. Man, this book is turning out to be way more than I expected.
Mid way through writing The Good Girl Part Trois, I felt myself rushing to finish. I was so confident I told readers that I would have everything tied up with Part Trois. The joke was on me. It’s amazing how characters have the audacity to tell you when their story is finished. These characters made it very clear they were telling the story and not me.
I figured I’d go with the flow and once I realized there was going to be another book, I told my readers. I even promised it wouldn’t be long before the next book. Again, the characters put me in my place.
I have been working hard to bring this series to an end, but it seems like it’s not done. As much as I don’t want to admit it, there just might be a fifth book. I was faced with the possibility of a fifth book a few weeks ago. So far The Good Girl Part Four is 97k+. I was shocked. I haven’t written a book that big since my first book. And that was the first draft, which I later attacked with an electric saw.
So here’s my dilemma. Keep writing and see where the story ends or end book four with a cliffhanger like the other books in the series. Where I am in the story right now, I feel there’s a good six thousand more words…at least. That would make the book well over 100k words…way too big, I think.
I’ve been kicking around the possibility of a fifth book long before the word count got this high. When I was selecting cover images for the series, I held back one just in case. So finding a cover won’t be an issue. I’ve even been thinking about possibly using “book five” as an entry to a spin off series featuring Gabriella’s brother. If I do that, it would allow me to tell a little more of Gabriella and Phillippe’s story as well.
If I go with this plan, Part Four would definitely end with a cliffhanger. Adding a fifth book to this series would throw a monkey wrench in my publishing plan for the balance of the year. I really wanted to finish Unexpected Love Part Two this fall. I also wanted to write a holiday novella. Neither of which seem possible if I add a fifth book to The Good Girl Series.
The upside to adding a fifth book is I would have about a third of it complete. I did a read through and found a good spot to end Part Four. In doing so, it would give me a strong opening for Part Five. Because of where Part Four would end, I’d have about thirty thousand words to start Part Five.
As a reader, I’m of two minds when it comes to cliffhangers. If I like the characters and the story, a cliffhanger will not stop me from reading the next book. I have bought (at full price) into series without thinking about the price. I can think of three series right now where I purchased deep into the series without giving any thought to the price. Not only did I buy the books, but because I really enjoyed the series, I told others about the books.
I think if your readers are used to your giving them cliffs, it’s not a problem. However, if you’re new to reading an author and are presented a cliffhanger it can be annoying especially if the next book isn’t available. In the case of The Good Girl Series, each of the books ends on a cliff so I might be able to get away with this series plan.
Cliffhangers are a subject riddled with debate in the world of romance fiction. Everyone loves an HEA (Happy Ever After). In my writing world HFN (Happy For Now) and Cliffs are common. No matter how hard I try, cliffs seem to be inevitable and dare I say, my writing style.
What would you do…end book four with a cliffhanger and write a fifth book or make part four a super novel?
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