Short Stories and Cliffhangers

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I read an excellent post about cliffhangers, and it’s got me thinking now.  Maybe I’m weird, alright then, if you insist – I am weird.  There are two things about me that have the potential to get right up some peoples nostrils when it comes to my scribbles.  I write multiple genres and I like to play sometimes when I write.  Nothing makes me grin wider than when I’m playing in the land of anything goes.  Short stories are generally where I play though, because experimenting with the style of voice you tell a story in, or popping in a cliffhanger at the end of a big fat novel is very likely going to incite rage.  With a series you have to have an ending to each book that leads you into the next book.  Sometimes this can be construed as not so much a cliffhanger as an unfinished book.  It can be tricky sometimes to have an ending where your reader is happily looking forward to the next book, rather than wanting to find out where you live and sock you in the nose.  I’ve come to the end of reading standalone books with the most outrageous non-conclusions that seemed to totally defeat the purpose in the telling of the tale at all.  Stories must have endings.  Even short stories must have endings.  But.  I like short stories with cliffhanger endings too.
I have loads of short stories lurking forgotten in the bowels of my computer.  My short stories tend to happen to me, and I write them fairly quickly.  Ages ago I got a review for The Visitation from a reader who enjoyed it and wanted more.  She felt that she had been left hanging.  I felt bad about that.  It wasn’t a horrible review at all, and I felt so guilty about it for a while that I actually wrote quite a bit more, which then turned into a bit more again before I closed it and sent it to join the rest of the story lurkers I’ve built up.  There’s about forty odd thousand words I could add to The Visitation right now that would effectively turn it into a whole dystopian book.  I quite like those forty thousand words to be honest, and one day I might turn them into a book, but I won’t ever tack it on to The Visitation.  The point is that I wrote that story specifically the way I did because I wanted the shock of the ending.  I wanted to write it as an essay of one man’s descent into some serious crazy, and I wanted the end result of that crazy to be shocking.  I wanted to make the reader wonder if he’d really had a vision, or if that was just the pinnacle of a life so crappy that he lost the plot.  So I’m happy with Tony’s story the way it is.
Now, after that rambling explanation, I’ll get to the point.  Right at the time I got that review, I was about to publish another short story.  Also apocalyptic, and also with an ending that could lead into a whole novel.  I think that it’s alright to end a story like that.  Just because I’ve loved a story and want it to carry on doesn’t mean that it should.  The short story I was about to publish had really become a prequel as I wrote the final lines though, and something I definitely wanted to explore some more, so that review stopped me in my tracks and I hesitated – not wanting to put something out there that would be a bad reading experience for anyone.  Then I totally forgot about it.  I found it again during my internet blackout and decided to publish it after all.  Reading it after so long was interesting, and like The Visitation, I ended it the way I wanted to end it.  I wanted people to be wondering about the purpose of the skin thing, and wondering too what the small group of humans could do – if anything – even though their fate seems inevitable.
Both stories are supposed to end with the end of mankind right there – but not quite, so that’s the way they ended, but I think maybe that even in stories, us old humans don’t want to see things like that.  We want better endings – happy endings.  So again, both endings don’t show the actual death of the last man on the planet, although it’s obvious enough.  Still – the hope we naturally have moves ahead with the people staring at extinction, wondering if one of the few left alive at the end will against all odds save humanity, wanting to know more.  Is this a bad thing to do as a writer?  I don’t think so.  I like reading unusual stories.  I don’t like books that don’t end at all any better that the next reader, but I find some openish endings fascinating.  So, I swiped one of the covers I had up for sale, tweaked it a bit, and published it.  I’m chuffed with my little forgotten tale, and hopefully readers will like it too.  When my next Shadow People books go live, I’ll definitely be writing a novel to follow this one, but probably only starting a decade or so after this short ends, but I’m not calling it a prequel because it really is what it was written as – a short and twisty little tale.  So here it is.  Hopefully the cover won’t scare anyone away – that creepy alien guy sort of made himself.

Skin Cover.jpgs.jpg 6.25 9.5

62 thoughts on “Short Stories and Cliffhangers

    Peter Wells aka Countingducks said:
    April 8, 2015 at 11:57 am

    Possibly I’m a bleaker character than you, but I don’t mind endings which leave you with a question because people, unlike books sort of run of battery, sometime in mid-sentence, and there is not always a neat conclusion to their time on Earth or anywhere else. If I was the last man on Earth, and you were recording my thoughts they might read something like, “No point in vacuuming then” followed by a large “BANG”

    Liked by 1 person

      jorobinson176 responded:
      April 8, 2015 at 2:32 pm

      I would love to read the story that came before an ending like ‘No point in vacuuming then.’ Makes me think of Douglas Adams – he would have used that perfectly too. I’m with you Peter – I enjoy stories that set me thinking. I do love books with proper endings, but sometimes it’s cool to let your own imagination show you the real end.

      Liked by 1 person

    The Story Reading Ape said:
    April 8, 2015 at 12:13 pm

    Unless I missed it somehow, you forgot to tell everyone to click on the cover to go get it Jo (I did and I have)😀 XXXXX

    Liked by 1 person

      jorobinson176 responded:
      April 8, 2015 at 2:34 pm

      THANK YOU CHRIS! I did forget to say that too – typical dilly me. 😀 I hope you like this one and yell loudly at me if you reckon I’ve got the ending wrong. MWAH! XXXXXXXX

      Liked by 1 person

    The Story Reading Ape said:
    April 8, 2015 at 12:13 pm

    Reblogged this on Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog and commented:
    NEW JO ROBINSON BOOK OUT FOLKS…😀

    Liked by 1 person

    Smorgasbord - Variety is the Spice of Life. said:
    April 8, 2015 at 12:26 pm

    Reblogged this on Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life and commented:
    Jo Robinson has put her recent sabbatical due to Internet woes to good use..with her new release Skin.. short stories and cliffhangers

    Liked by 1 person

      jorobinson176 responded:
      April 8, 2015 at 2:36 pm

      Thank you Sally! You are my loveliest love! HUGS!❤ XXXXXX

      Like

    Jack Eason said:
    April 8, 2015 at 12:39 pm

    I’ve only ever revisited a scenario and the same characters twice Jo. The first time was after I had written my science fiction novel Turning Point back in 1995. I left it wide open for a sequel, which I wrote in 2003 – Onet’s Tale. The second time happened quite by chance when I wrote my science fiction/ archaological adventure The Seventh Age in 2012. While I was writing it, the idea for a sequal immediately sprang to mind while writing once specific scene, which became my archaeological adventure The Forgotten age, written in the same year, set beneath the Great Pyramid and the Sphinx.

    Normally, once I have written a story that’s it. I move on to the next one.😉

    Liked by 1 person

      jorobinson176 responded:
      April 8, 2015 at 2:39 pm

      I don’t think I’ve figured out all my ways yet. I think you’re right moving along, but sometimes some old character will pop up in my head and say something new – distracting it is! I loved the ending in your Cataclysm – very poignant but cool at the same time. 🙂 X

      Liked by 1 person

        Jack Eason said:
        April 8, 2015 at 6:41 pm

        Thanks. If I was Gilbert, I would have done the same thing😉

        Liked by 1 person

          Jack Eason said:
          April 8, 2015 at 7:10 pm

          Thanks for the review by the way. Much appreciated.❤ xx

          Liked by 1 person

            jorobinson176 responded:
            April 10, 2015 at 2:44 pm

            Pleasure Jack! I really enjoyed it – I love books that make my jaw drop sometimes, and sci-fi rules. ❤ XXXX

            Liked by 1 person

          jorobinson176 responded:
          April 10, 2015 at 2:42 pm

          A heroic lover you are Jack! 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

            Jack Eason said:
            April 10, 2015 at 3:46 pm

            Flattery will get you everywhere with me😉

            Like

    Charles Yallowitz said:
    April 8, 2015 at 12:51 pm

    Reblogged this on Legends of Windemere and commented:
    Click on the cover for a 99 cent book! New release from Jo Robinson.

    Liked by 1 person

    Let's CUT the Crap! said:
    April 8, 2015 at 1:01 pm

    I agree with you. If the story moves naturally to the ending, that must be it. Sure it can be tweaked to be less bleak sometimes, but happy endings don’t always happen. I DO want to think about why a story ended such-and-such. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

      jorobinson176 responded:
      April 8, 2015 at 2:42 pm

      True Tess. Happy endings don’t always happen, although I probably wouldn’t write a really sad one in fiction. I have a fancy for ending the world instead. 😀 I love sad books too – even as a child – loved bawling my eyes out reading Black Beauty.

      Liked by 1 person

    Nicholas C. Rossis said:
    April 8, 2015 at 2:27 pm

    Congrats on the launch! Checking it out now🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      jorobinson176 responded:
      April 8, 2015 at 2:43 pm

      Thank you Nicholas! I’m glad I only published it now – now time to fuss or have pre-publish jitters. 🙂 X

      Liked by 1 person

        Nicholas C. Rossis said:
        April 8, 2015 at 2:50 pm

        Just bought it. It’s a good thing it’s a short, too, as my tbr list is now gargantuan😀

        Liked by 1 person

          jorobinson176 responded:
          April 10, 2015 at 2:46 pm

          Ooh – thank you Nicholas! The tbr can get to be terrifying. I’m making inroads eventually now, although every time I finish one I buy another two. 😀 X

          Liked by 1 person

    jjspina said:
    April 8, 2015 at 3:31 pm

    Oooh, sounds intriguing, Jo! I love your books read two and have another to read. I enjoy the twists and surprises you put into each tale. That takes a talent to do that. I look forward to checking it out. Best of luck, dear friend, with this book too! Hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

      jorobinson176 responded:
      April 10, 2015 at 2:47 pm

      Thank you dear Janice – that’s a wonderful, wonderful compliment! HUGS!❤ XXXXX

      Liked by 1 person

    Ali Isaac said:
    April 8, 2015 at 4:57 pm

    I love stories that have a bit of an ambiguous ending, or where the ending is not clear cut. The sweet happy-ever-after of the final HP just killed it for me! Perhaps its because I like to use my imagination. In any case, in my books, although that particular adventure is over by the end, the overarching themes of the trilogy are left dangling. Cant wait to write the ending of Book3! In the meantime, I am just starting to write short stories, and already get the feeling that one can be mercilessly wicked with the endings lol! Authors have always written their own stories, and readers had to be contented with it. Now though, as there is closer contact between reader and author, readers can make requests, or comment in their reviews. I guess this is a good thing, but maybe then we dont need authors to write books, just robots!

    Liked by 1 person

      jorobinson176 responded:
      April 10, 2015 at 2:54 pm

      Yes! You can get very wicked with short stories. I’ve always loved reading them – especially Stephen King – he can get very twisty with his shorts. I still buy piles of shorts – especially by Indie writers because without any door keepers they get to write some out there stuff. Makes me very happy. You’re so right about not needing authors if we’re going to write what others think we should. I just spotted Mark Coker’s April Fool blog and nearly clocked out – he did a good job of making it look like Amazon had made a “Don’t like this book? Make your own with this generator button!” thing. Gullible much, but wow, that would be a disaster. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

        Ali Isaac said:
        April 10, 2015 at 2:56 pm

        Lol! I read that too! Got about halfway through before I realised it was a joke! Thing is, I wouldnt put it past
        Amazon to pick up on it and turn it into reality! 😂

        Liked by 1 person

          jorobinson176 responded:
          April 10, 2015 at 3:05 pm

          I read it twice before I clicked that it was a con. 😛 Amazon would too if they could! 😀😀

          Liked by 1 person

    olganm said:
    April 8, 2015 at 8:48 pm

    Very intriguing. I’m with you about endings… Good luck with the story and with the next story and the next one…

    Liked by 1 person

    mysm2000 said:
    April 8, 2015 at 9:42 pm

    O.K. You’ve certainly whet my appetite for both of these books. Can’t wait!

    Liked by 1 person

      jorobinson176 responded:
      April 10, 2015 at 2:56 pm

      Oooh again! I hope you don’t run into any of my scribbles that you hate. ❤ XXXX

      Like

    Suzanne Joshi said:
    April 9, 2015 at 1:46 pm

    It sounds interesting. I love the cover, Jo.🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      jorobinson176 responded:
      April 10, 2015 at 2:57 pm

      Thank you Suzanne! It was fun to make this one – let the old dark side out a bit. 🙂 X

      Like

    M T McGuire said:
    April 9, 2015 at 7:49 pm

    Looks interesting.🙂 off to download it now.

    Liked by 1 person

      jorobinson176 responded:
      April 10, 2015 at 2:58 pm

      Thank you MT! I hope it doesn’t earn a snarf or snarfle. 😀 XX

      Like

    theowllady said:
    April 15, 2015 at 1:31 am

    Reblogged this on theowlladyblog.

    Liked by 1 person

    jjspina said:
    April 17, 2015 at 6:22 pm

    Reblogged this on jemsbooks and commented:
    Creative and talented author, Jo Robinson, does it again with a new book! She will keep you enthralled with her wonderful short stories! Click on the cover to purchase. Best wishes, Jo! xo

    Liked by 1 person

    Friday Finds: Week 29 | Avid Reader said:
    April 18, 2015 at 2:01 am

    […] Short Stories And CliffhangersHow To Thrive As An Independent Author […]

    Liked by 1 person

    Chris White said:
    April 25, 2015 at 9:47 am

    Hello. Now a loyal follower so I can get to know you and your work.
    Weird is fine by the way. All the best. Kris.
    http://www.awritersden.wordpress.com
    http://www.the1951club.org

    Like

      jorobinson176 responded:
      April 25, 2015 at 12:03 pm

      Hiya Kris – great to meet you! I’m following you too now on both of your sites. 🙂

      Like

        Chris White said:
        April 25, 2015 at 12:10 pm

        Thank you so much. Your desk looks very tidy by the way! 😀
        All the best. Kris.

        Liked by 1 person

    marjma2014 said:
    April 25, 2015 at 3:19 pm

    I don’t always expect a happy ending sometimes a less than perfect conclusion can be a trigger to further thought and discussion. I hope to write a short story too at some point on my blog, I had an idea after walking in the park near where I live. It will be interesting to see whether I opt for a happy ending.

    Liked by 1 person

      jorobinson176 responded:
      May 17, 2015 at 11:31 am

      I’m looking forward to reading it! Isn’t it fabulous getting to decide every little thing that happens?

      Liked by 1 person

    Jean M. Cogdell said:
    April 27, 2015 at 5:43 pm

    Thank you, I’m so glad to read I’m not alone. I love to play with short stories and flash fiction. Worlds and characters, of all types, pop in and out of my head like people getting a caffeine fix Starbucks.

    Liked by 1 person

      jorobinson176 responded:
      May 17, 2015 at 11:30 am

      Snap! It’s a lot of fun, and with short stories you really can go as wild as you like. I think that they are the very essence of writing, and not so easy to get right too, so a little bit of writerly gaga is good there. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

        Jean M. Cogdell said:
        May 18, 2015 at 6:39 pm

        Couldn’t agree more, now if I could just make it to 50K, that would really be something. LOL

        Like

    teagan geneviene said:
    May 16, 2015 at 5:11 pm

    Jo, i think you are quite expert at moving from “ending” in one volume to beginning in the next. Your Shadow People series is proof! Mega hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

      jorobinson176 responded:
      May 17, 2015 at 11:22 am

      Thank you my lovely friend. I’m hoping that the Shadow People books will all be able to be read alone without reading the others – trickier than I thought it would be too. 😀 I love to go all “out there” sometimes with the shorts though – wicked scribblers club. HUGS! XX

      Liked by 1 person

    kathyrollinson said:
    May 17, 2015 at 11:12 am

    Jo. I, too, write in many genres. I have written a trilogy for children (of all ages 10 – 100!). I am doing a children’s on-line course at the moment, and they advise that you should not leave the reader (a child) with a ‘cliff-hanger,’ I also write short stories but usually they are published in magazines, bit I have published on Amazon Kindle, four stories about murder. When I attended a writing group I belong to, we had to pull out of a hat what method we would kill our victims. I pulled out poison so my stories are about that. We had to set the murders in the USA.

    Liked by 1 person

      jorobinson176 responded:
      May 17, 2015 at 11:27 am

      You’re right – it would be a pretty mean thing to do to leave a little reader hanging. Do you enjoy writing about murders? It really has blown me away how much I’ve enjoyed writing things that I never thought I could – good to stretch. I’m definitely going to turn Skin into a novel though – already having at it to be honest, so I’m considering it a prequel now rather than a short story. I have so much respect for children’s book authors – it has to be one of the most difficult things to write. I’ve got a half finished children’s illustrated book in my pile of WIP’s, and am finding the prospect of getting it right a bit daunting to be honest. I can’t remember properly how children think.

      Like

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