Writing Excuses 8.7: Cliffhangers and Icebergs with Robison Wells

Double the Wells brothers for double the fun! Robison Wells joins us for a discussion of cliffhangers. Rob and Dan can be found together on another podcast called Do I Dare to Eat a Peach.

Rob’s first novel, Variant, ends with a bit of a cliffhanger, which is resolved in Feedback, the second novel. Rob confesses to us that he likes leaving readers wondering about portions of the world-building — that’s the 90% of the iceberg invisible beneath the surface of the water. He also withholds lots of information from the reader, and does so without cheating since the POV character has no way to know these things.

We talk at length about how we keep information from the reader, and how the less we tell, the more suspense we can provide.

The Variant cliffhanger is a particularly sharp one. Rob defends it for us, and talks about why he and his editors decided to conclude the first book in the series the way they did. Mary discusses how she handles pacing with internal cliffhangers at chapter breaks. Dan tells us about some interesting reader reaction to Partials.


Write the story of the scary, scary shade from Phantom of the Opera.

Variant and Feedback by Robison Wells, both narrated by Michael Goldstrom