Sunday, February 26, 2012

Cliffhangers as Chapter Endings, Good or Bad?

Authors often employ different writing techniques to make his or her readers eager to turn to the next page in their book. A cliffhanger at the end of a chapter is one method that authors make use of—to keep their readers engaged in their story’s plot and characters—forcing them to turn pages. We refer to these types of novels as page-turners.

Would you be surprised if I told you that this writing practice was popular during the age of Queen Victoria? One of the progressive ideas to come from this age sprang between a monthly magazine and an author. Short story author like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's fictional detective Sherlock Holmes, you ask. No, I am talking about a completed novel not stand alone short stories. The magazine published sections of a novel one chapter at a time. Thomas Hardy is given credit for being the first to add a cliffhanger to the end of each of his published chapters. You see he needed a gimmick to keep his readers wanting more, thus ensuring a monthly paycheck from his publisher. Hey, that’s something that we all want; only now we call it royalties.

The question that I’m asking today is do you use cliffhangers in your own manuscripts/books and if so, are they found at the end of each chapter?

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