~Cliffhanger Writers Anonymous~

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction and Writing Resource' started by LilyHobbitJedi, Dec 11, 2006.

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  1. LilyHobbitJedi Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 29, 2005
    star 5
    As many writers know, cliffhangers are a definite necessary evil in writing a good story. Readers hate reading them, because the story abrubtly stops during exciting moments. At the same time writers (myself included) like writing them because it draws in the audience and makes them want to return for more.

    So I came up with an idea (with mod approval) to start a Cliffhanger Writers Anonymous where we can discuss the good and bad points of writing cliffhangers, as well as the finer details of writing a good cliffhanger.

    So a few questions to start this off.

    Do you write cliffhangers?

    Why do you write them?
  2. DarthIshtar Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2001
    star 9
    I write them shamelessly and it's mostly because I want to keep both myself and my readers interested in what will be happening next.
  3. correllian_ale Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 20, 2005
    star 4
    I could ditto Ish's response, but in reality, I'm usually not too sure how to end the scene.
    :p
  4. KILIK Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2005
    star 4
    Do you write cliffhangers?

    Yes I have a few times.

    Why do you write them?


    I would have to say because they make for good storytelling.

    They also make me want to write the story if I don't have it all thought out. Not sure if that makes any sense thou.

    I also use them if I have to abruptly stop writing.

  5. Jedi Trace SouthEast RSA

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Dec 15, 1999
    star 6
    I try not to have more than one or two cliffies in a fic. I think they do work, in a serial context, to a certain extent. But overuse of them puts me off a fic REAL quick. ?Oh my gawd, don?t leave us there!? gets old fast. ;)


  6. DarthIshtar Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2001
    star 9
    My worst habit is leaving questions hanging in the air. I'll write a 5-page conversation that's really going somewhere and then stop it on a question so the reader understands that the point of the entire conversation was to reach that state. And then they'll be left wondering what the answer is.
  7. Healer_Leona Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jul 7, 2000
    star 9
    I have learned to love cliffhangers. For me, they never get old and it's fun to see how often an author can end a post with one.

    Writing them gives a sense of satisfaction, especially when you get a reply or two of "NOOOOO!" and get called evil and sithly. [face_laugh]
  8. KELIA Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jul 26, 2005
    star 6
    Do you write cliffhangers?

    Oh yeah! I love keeping the readers interested and eager for more. That being said, my aren't too awfully evil....I still have a lot to learn. :p

    Why do you write them?

    As I mentioned before, I think it keeps the readers interested if they are guessing what happens next. Of course if you don't update in awhile, things could get ugly but overall I think a few cliffhangers scattered throughout stories are a great thing.
  9. dianethx Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 1, 2002
    star 6
    In a way, almost all chapter endings are cliffhangers in the profic books. They are designed to make you want to turn the page and keep reading. So the question then becomes how high is the cliff?

    I like cliffhangers as a reader to some extent but a large cliffie at the end of each post (especially if the posts are short) can get old really fast. I think that a really good writer will have cliffs and mere short drops in their stories and vary it enough that you might not notice it as much.

    As for me, I write cliffhangers (big whoppy ones) only when the story demands it. Otherwise, a small question at the end of the post is more my style. It helps to engage the reader and make them think about what has happened so far and what they think is going to happen.

    However, one thing I really never do is pull something out of nowhere just to create a cliffie. To me, the cliff has to be built up to the point where it is important to the characters and that means background.
  10. Golden_Jedi Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 10, 2005
    star 4
    I frequently use the cliffhanger trick. :D Like someone before said, it keeps the readership interested and myself amused. I have the bad habit of misleading my readers as well.[face_blush]
  11. Luton_Plunder Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jun 15, 2006
    star 3
    Do you write cliffhangers?

    Ohhh yes, absolutely.

    Why do you write them?

    I write them for one very simple reason.

    But to find out what it is, you'll have to wait for my next post [face_mischief]




    (sorry, it had to be done :p)
  12. JadeSolo Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 20, 2002
    star 6
    Well???? What happens next?! :p

    I think that going overboard with the cliffhangers leads to Da Vinci Code Syndrome, where the cliffhangers at the end of each chapter are so steep and severe that they just make me laugh: "It's a code! And I know how to break it! Chapter 24: Langdon deciphered the code and realized that the Grail was hidden next to the green monkey sculpture at the Louvre."

    I don't need to see a cliffhanger at the end of every chapter to make me want to keep reading - sometimes the characters themselves are enough. But when they cliffs are done well, I won't complain. :D
  13. dianethx Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 1, 2002
    star 6
    It just made me want to toss the book away.:mad: There are cliffhangers for a reason and then there are cliffhangers that are trite and ridiculous. I think, Jade, that DVC is an excellent example of what not to do.
  14. AnakinsFavorite Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 10, 2006
    star 5
    Hi, my name is AnakinsFavorite.

    Everyone:
    Hello, AF.

    I am an alleged cliffhanger addict. I am addicted to cliffies because I like to drive my readers insane... and to the dark side
  15. LilyHobbitJedi Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 29, 2005
    star 5
    For me I write cliffhangers because I come to a part where one would fit in very nicely. I've definitely been called evil sometimes, but they still come back for more when I update. So it works out I suppose.
  16. VaderLVR64 Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Feb 5, 2004
    star 8
    Do you write cliffhangers?

    Yes, if the story calls for them.


    Why do you write them?

    I use them if the story needs them. Sometimes I use them because the next bit of the story cannot (or should not) be resolved in that chapter, and in that case I will use a cliffhanger. But I don't use them for the sake of using them. And that's a turn-off in a fic for me, if it feels "false" to me. I can't explain it any better than that. :)
  17. Herman Snerd Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 31, 1999
    star 6
    I do it to punish the readers. [face_devil]
  18. The_Face Ex-Manager

    Member Since:
    Feb 22, 2003
    star 5
    You wanna know why I write cliffhangers?

    Kicks and giggles. :p

    I'm rather merciless with them. I think they're great. In fact, when I'm reading someone else's fic, I don't get frustrated when I come to a cliffie (if I have, it wasn't by much). This, of course, is assuming it's warranted, and not like the example JadeSolo gives. But I don't remember coming across one of those in the fics I follow.

    Cliffies mean tension. Tension means there's a reason to come back. I can leave Luke and the Emperor while they're chatting to check up on what's going on back at Endor, but if you leave them when he's getting fried and his pop's standing idly by? Well you're going to be anxious the whole time to find out what will happen back on the Death Star, which adds an urgency to your Endor scene.

    That said, be sure to mix it up. There's the blatant cliffies in which Hero A is under Villain B's blaster and a shot goes off. There's more subtle cliffies - perhaps Hero A finds out he has a year to live and we cut, or we know he's about to walk into a room that's loaded with explosives but he's none the wiser. There's emotional cliffies (you love who?), revelation cliffies (she's the killer!), etcetera etcetera.
  19. oqidaun Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jul 20, 2005
    star 5

    I think the serialized nature of the stories most of us post here necessitates cliffhanger endings from time to time much in the same way traditional serializations did (I'm thinking Charles Dickens or 1930s radio programs). Essentially the purpose is to get the readers anxious and ready for more. Can't be apathetic about a story if you're wondering in the back of your mind "Is my favorite character going to get axed?"


  20. Will_Kenobi Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    Dec 8, 2006
    Cliffhangers always make me come back to a fic, especially if Obi is in danger of getting, as Oqidaun said, axed;)
  21. NYCitygurl NSWFF Manager

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Jul 20, 2002
    star 9
    I use cliffies all the time--sometimes too much. Sometimes it's to be sithy and let the readers suffer, and sometimes it's because I've got DWB and honestly don't know what to write next.
  22. VaderLVR64 Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Feb 5, 2004
    star 8
    Are we even ALLOWED to give Obi-Wan the axe??? :eek: Cliffhangers can be well done and forced. I don't mind the well done ones at all, and most of them are of that nature. So I'm usually quite happy to read a cliffhanger because I know I'll be back and the situation will be resolved. Hopefully... ;)
  23. Daenarrah Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Nov 12, 2005
    star 3
    Do you write cliffhangers?

    Definitely. Or at least I try to. I don't always know how successful I am with them, though. I think there are some that I pull off, and I'm proud of those, and others that I sit and think and wonder about.


    Why do you write them?

    I think the same reason I love reading them. They grab the reader's attention and keep them guessing/wondering what's going to happen next. I know I love to try and figure out/think about where a fic is going after a real good cliffhanger. It's keeps me eagerly waiting for more, and I hope to get the same reaction from the people who read my fics. If I succeed then I'm a very happy camper.

    The biggest problem, though, is a cliffhanger that doesn't work, or too many that they ruin the fic. I don't want to have any of those and I hope I never do.

  24. General_Kenobi_66 Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 18, 2006
    star 3
    Personally, I think it should be outlawed to give Obi-Wan the axe;)
  25. rebel_cheese Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 6, 2006
    star 4
    Do you write cliffhangers?

    Oh yeah. Do it all the time. [face_mischief]

    Why do you write them?

    Basically for my personal entertainment. [face_devil]

    Seriously, I do it to hook readers in. Stories needs excitement and people questioning characters' fates to be effective, especially in action-dramas like the kinds I tend to write. Vignettes I try to leave with a decent amount of closure, but longer stories I'll sprinkle cliffhangers in all the time to leave the reader guessing and biting his/her fingernails.

    In short, I use it as a sadistic suspense tool. :p
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