Ways to create the effect of a cliffhanger:
Using character dialogue
Using unanswered questions
Descriptive scene / creating an atmosphere
Cliffhangers act as bait to lead the readers from one part of the text to another with more interest than before. Whether they happen between chapters, books, episodes, series of films or movies. To end a story with a cliffhanger is difficult.
- Leave the reader questioning about ONE specific thing
- Make the reader desire more
- leave with unknown information that is needed to understand the story
- leave the reader with discontent
A cliffhanging ending doesn’t have to be something HUGE! As long as it keeps the reader guessing and asking themselves questions you have done your job as a writer.
A Cliffhanger Can:
a) Someone takes an action
b) Someone reacts to something
c) Someone arrives
d) Someone leaves
a) Something happens, on its own timeline or in response to something that a character did
b) Something fails to happen
c) Something changes
d) Something fails to change
Include a new piece of information:
a) The character learns something
b) The character notices something
c) The character figures something out
d) The character decides something
e) Character remembers something OR loses memory
f) The character feels something
Most important thing NOT to do if you are writing a story ending with a cliffhanger is to make sure that the reader does not feel cheated out of a proper ending.
A cliffhanger is a surprise or story twist that leaves the reader wanting more NOT confused.