I’ve often heard that each chapter in a book should end in a cliffhanger. According to the Encarta Dictionary, a cliffhanger is a noun meaning:
|1. ending left teasingly unresolved: an unresolved ending in a part of a serialized drama or book that leaves the audience or reader eager to know what will happen next|
|2. tense situation: a situation full of tension or suspense because it is not clear what will happen next|
The goal of using a cliffhanger is to keep the reader turning the pages instead of stopping at the end of a chapter. The cliffhanger is a mini-climax, and the following chapter (if it’s by the same point of view character) usually shows the reaction to it, followed by an evaluation of the character’s options, and the decision he or she must make to move forward toward the long-term goal. That gives the character a new short-term goal, builds tension, creates rising action, and moves the story towards its major climax.
Do you like cliffhangers at the end of every chapter, or do you think it becomes too predictable/repetitive? What makes the best cliffhangers—danger, emotional tension, a new clue to what’s going on? What books have you read that use cliffhangers effectively?