Writers talk a lot about beginnings. The beginning of a story. The beginning of a scene. Yes, the beginning is very important. A good beginning draws the reader in, makes the reader want to know more about the characters and their problems. The reader wants to feel like they’re right there with the character(s) feeling their emotions and trying to figure out what to do about their troubles.
Then comes the ending, of a story, a scene, or a chapter. The ending is what I love, especially a cliffhanger ending. According to Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia, a cliffhanger is: “… a plot device in fiction which features a main character in a precarious or difficult dilemma, or confronted with a shocking revelation at the end of an episode of serialized fiction. A cliffhanger is hoped to ensure the audience will return to see how the characters resolve the dilemma. The two main ways for cliffhangers to keep readers coming back is to either involve characters in a suspenseful, possibly life-threatening situation, or to feature a sudden shocking revelation.”
I love to read a book with cliffhanger endings for the chapters. When I’m dying to see what happens next, I’ll read one more chapter, even though it’s way past midnight and I can barely keep my eyes open. This is the way I hope readers will feel about my stories. They just want to read one more chapter, then the next, and the next. Here are some of my favorite cliffhanger chapter endings from my novels.
From SECRETS I HAVE KEPT, ya mystery:
“In here,” Casey whispered, and nudged Jen into the coat closet. He squeezed in beside her. The dog scampered between her legs.
Casey hauled the closet door shut at the exact instant she heard the outer door open.
From JUST BREEZE, tween contemporary:
I crossed my heart. I’d never squeal on my sister. The car would speak for itself, however. Noah was good, but it would take a lot of hammering to hide those dents.
From CAVES, CANNONS, AND CRINOLINES, ya historical
The iron gate at the end of the sidewalk squeaked as Nat pushed through it. My greeting never passed my lips, for he laid his head on my lap. He said only one word: “Lizzie.”
Do you have favorite cliffhangers? If so, tell us about them.
Happy Reading. And remember, keep the reader guessing what happens next.