In an earlier post I wrote about the types of writers, including the Cliffhanger type. Personally, I like cliffhangers. They’re fun and entice the reader to continue, but how do you write one? I could talk about this by starting from the beginning and going through this slowly, but to be honest I prefer to go straight to the middle of things.
In Medias Res:
Medias res is Latin for in the middle of things and many writers get the advice of starting the story there if you don’t know where it begins. But what if you end a chapter in medias res? It would make the reader look at the last empty page of the book and think:
If you can get a reader to do that then you have achieved a cliffhanger. Getting to this you have to create a situation that pulls the reader in and creates the “I want to know what happens next” mindset but then cut them off once they get hooked. This is done the same way with TV shows. The season finale always has an open ending that leaves you wanting to watch the next season. Just don’t pull a Sherlock.
If you are writing a short story series cliffhangers keep your followers reading them.
The Lead Up:
With a cliffhanger, there needs to be a lead up, a creation of suspense. It can be a questioned asked, a fight began, or plot twist revealed. Suspense is necessary for a cliffhanger. Leaving a few clues as you go along so they can be picked up by the reader. There is one article I found while I scoured through the Fiction University Blog written by Janice Hardy and she explains how to create suspense much better than I can.
At the final moment before leaving a cliffhanger it is hard to find that edge. That point where your reader is hooked but you want to keep them there. Too far and they’ll be content with putting the book down. Too soon and they will be confused. It is a fine line to tread, but it is something you have to find out for yourself. This is when a Beta-Reader will come in handy, if you cut off too soon or too late they will tell you.
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