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  1. Welcome to the new boards! Details here!

Cliffhangers Workshop - Completed/Cliffie FREE-FOR-ALL

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction and Writing Resource' started by Luton_Plunder, Oct 5, 2007.

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  1. Luton_Plunder

    Luton_Plunder Jedi Knight star 3

    Registered:
    Jun 15, 2006
    Welcome to another in the series of monthly workshops!

    One and all are invited to participate and discuss the topic. If you have any questions or concerns feel free to PM me.



    [image=http://img118.imageshack.us/img118/4845/cliffie01rk7.jpg] [b]TIME TO CALL IN A CLIFFHANGER[/b]

    [hr]


    [u][b]CLIFFHANGERS[/u][/b]

    It's the end of a successful update to your fanfic. Your characters have triumphantly overcome an obstacle and are revelling in their achievements. There's not a worry in the world, because all the bad guys have been defeated. That's right, all of them. In fact, the phrase 'nothing can possibly go wrong' comes to mind.

    And that's when it's time to call in a cliffhanger.

    You know them, you love and/or hate them. Depending on what kinds of stories you like to read, you've no doubt come across them before. In this thread we'll talk about what's good about them, what's bad about them, and how they help or hinder our stories.

    [b]What to expect[/b]:

    [color=blue]1 - General discussion about cliffhangers. What do we think of them? When are they appropriate? Etc etc.
    2 - Exercises to broaden our understanding of cliffhangers - both reading and writing.
    3 - An open forum as to what the participants would like to work on.
    4 - Lots of stupid jokes involving the film 'Cliffhanger', because it wouldn't be a Luton_Plunder thread without at least one thematic pun.[/color]

    [b]Ground Rules:

    [/b][color=red]1 - No-one is required to participate in both exercises and discussion. If you prefer one or the other, go right ahead.
    2 - Please do not link to works of fanfiction from either here or off-boards. We will be discussing them, but not promoting them. Off-site links to resources (articles, essays, blogs etc) are fine.
    3 - Keep it light, keep it friendly. Where constructive criticism is required, make sure it is tactful. I'm imploring people to remember that not everybody reacts the same way to concrit, so if you are the type to post blunt observations about people's works then please take an extra minute or two to ensure you aren't going to offend anyone. [/color]


    [hr]

    [b]And now, on with the workshop[/b].



    Cliffhangers exist in almost all fictional writing. They're generally used at the end of a piece of writing to ramp up tension and keep the reader interested in coming back for more. For that reason, your one-posters and your vignettes are unlikely to utilise them unless they are part of a series. But wherever it occurs, a well-constructed cliffhanger should always have the same effect.

    Eliciting an overwhelming desire in the audience to know what happens next.


    I've gathered some definitions for us to use throughout the thread - feel free to add to these if you wish, or to bring up other relevant terms not present.


    [b]Internal Cliffhangers[/b] - Put simply, these are the stock standard cliffhangers you'll find within a story that force you to keep reading. As described by Poynter Online, "Any dramatic element that comes right before a break in the action is an internal cliffhanger." Whether this break in the action is the end of a post, the end of an entire story or perhaps something more subtle, these cliffhangers almost dare you to stop reading the story.

    [b]Unconventional[/b] or [b]Subtle Cliffhangers[/b] - This is my own definition. These occur within the story but do not happen before a physical break in action. One of the best examples was offered up on a blog discussing these unconventional cliffhangers - a short story by Truman Capote (I believe it is called Children on their Birthdays) in which a young girl is hit by a bus at the beginning of the story. Her story continues on for pages and pages, and just when the audience has forgotten about the bus we arrive back at that point again. These kinds of cliffhangers are difficult to spot and pull off, but can be very rewarding.

    [b]Zeigarnik effect[/b] - Not a term you will need to remember, but I thought this was cool. This is a theory that states people remember unfinished or interrupted tasks b>
     
  2. MsLanna

    MsLanna Jedi Master star 6

    Registered:
    Jul 8, 2005
    Yay, evil cliffies get their own thread![face_dancing]
    Count me in.

    I love/hate them, of course. How could you not? The post is arriving at a peak tension and then - the author tells you to come back another day. You want to rip yout hair out, or theirs, depending.

    Take Yodimus now. He's gwriting a story with two padawans who fight each other to death, though they have the same Sith Master. Some kind of education I think. One gets the idea to go to the Master for help, so she comes out, says 'I see you brought a friend' and ignites her lightsaber.
    End of pot.

    I mean aaaaaargh! Which of the two is she going to decapitate? How long do i have to wait until I find out????
    *grabs Yod at the throat and shakes him*

    [face_blush]
    Anyway. That's how they are supposed to work.

    And now for something completely different...

    Who are you and what sort of fics do you read/write?

    Hello, my name is MsLanna and I am a Fanficcer.[face_blush]
    I write OCs and other niche stuff, read to little and preferrably OCs.

    Have you ever used cliffhangers before?

    Heh, of course. Just threw my Fett impersonating OC into the sarlacc. Of course, that would have been more spectacular, if we didn't know she'd get out again. :p

    Also, I finished a story with a cliffie once, buliding up romantic tension, put the two into a confined space with few options about what was going to happen, and then - well, end of story, epilogue 20 years later. Fangirls complained, but I had fun.

    Did they work? That is, do you think they were effective in making the reader want to come back for more?

    They usually work on me.
    On others, i don't know. If I had a larger group to make studies with...[face_thinking]
    If they're really good, they might draw out lurkers or long time no-commenters again, though.

    When do you think it is appropriate to use a cliffhanger?

    When it's written well. If you can pull it of, put one at the end of every update. :D

    When do you think it is not appropriate to use a cliffhanger?

    I'd say 'at the end of a story' now, but since I did just that, I think I'm disqualified.[face_blush]

    What can we do to help you improve your use of cliffhangers?


    Make sure the world is not about to gow down at the end of each chapter. That gets implausible.
    Also, use different kinds, sometimes action, other times romantic tension what have you.


    So where was I?
     
  3. Alexis_Wingstar

    Alexis_Wingstar Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Sep 16, 2006
    1 - Hi! Who are you and what sort of fics do you read/write?

    I'm Alexis Wingstar, and I like to read science fiction and fantasy because that genre tends to incorporate all other genres within them. I like variety. I've mostly written romance.

    2 - Have you ever used cliffhangers before?

    Of course!

    3 - Did they work? That is, do you think they were effective in making the reader want to come back for more?

    Since my readers said they want to see what happens next, I assume so. I've even had a friend call me a brat because of a few of my cliffies. :D

    4 - When do you think it is appropriate to use a cliffhanger?

    Preferably at the end of each update, though it doesn't always have to be an earth-shattering one in which people are on the edge of their seats.

    5 - What can we do to help you improve your use of cliffhangers?

    Not sure...

    Exercise One

    From TV/Movies, there are two cliffhangers that immediately come to mind... the Dallas "Who Shot JR" cliffie, and the cliff hanger skits in the children's show, Between the Lions. The later, after you've watched it a few times, instead of wondering if the dude will ever be rescued, you wonder how the writers are going to get him to hang on the cliff again. [face_laugh]

    In literature, the end of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire in which Voldemort is finally "back". Let me add, that Miss Rowling, IMHO, is the Queen of Cliffhangers. I cannot recall one chapter of her books that ended where I wanted to put the book down to go to the bathroom... or even to work.

    I think it kind of funny that when JR was shot, the big question was, "Who shot him?" as opposed to, "OMG, will he live?" [face_laugh] Of course, everyone knew JR was too evil to die. :p Talking about Dallas cliffhangers though, the following big cliffie with Bobby in the shower, in spite of the fact that I loved seeing Patrick Duffy in the shower =P~ , was not a good one for me. It was a letdown when we discovered all that happened was just a dream. I quit watching Dallas then. The writers in Dallas wrote themselves in a corner, finding that the viewing public could not except a nice JR, and did the "just a dream" gimmick. It was very poorly done.

    Good cliffies should have good stories to back them up. If you let the reader/viewer down, then the story dies.
     
  4. Jedi_Liz

    Jedi_Liz Jedi Grand Master star 6

    Registered:
    Apr 24, 2000
    1 - Hi! Who are you and what sort of fics do you read/write?

    I'm JediLiz, friend of......I mean I read and write Luke/Mara fics and read a few "real" books

    2 - Have you ever used cliffhangers before?

    Yes, I just did with a recent post

    3 - Did they work? That is, do you think they were effective in making the reader want to come back for more?
    Oh yes, they definitely do......I had one person call me horrible for leaving it right there.....and most people used the :eek: face

    4 - When do you think it is appropriate to use a cliffhanger?
    When you need to.....

    4 - When do you think it is not appropriate to use a cliffhanger?
    When its just coming to a good part or the writer is leaving on an extended vacation. :p

    5 - What can we do to help you improve your use of cliffhangers?

    Not sure.


    I can think of ONE television show where the cliffhanger at the end of the season drove me INSANE. Yes, I'm talking about "Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman". That cliffhanger made me a tad.....crazy. I recorded a few eps when they were reruns and watched them over and over that entire summer just waiting for the show to begin again.

    A movie cliffhanger.......Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. A lot of speculation when HE returned at the end. At least we didn't have to wait 3 years to see the end.


    Oh! And I just remembered another cliffhanger, from a book series I read called 'Hannah Swensen' Mysteries. Hannah the bakery owner was proposed to by both men she is dating and I hated waiting an entire year to find out her answer. And of course........well, it wasn't what you'd expect. :p






     
  5. brodiew

    brodiew Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Registered:
    Oct 11, 2005
    1 - Hi! Who are you and what sort of fics do you read/write?

    Hello. I?m brodiew and I write all over the map. I write humor, angst, drama, and romance. Some action, but not much.

    2 - Have you ever used cliffhangers before?

    Indeed, I have.

    3 - Did they work? That is, do you think they were effective in making the reader want to come back for more?

    Yes, I don?t do it purposefully, but ending a chapter, sometimes, is never convenient.

    4 - When do you think it is appropriate to use a cliffhanger?

    I think cliffhangers are best employed during climatic moments in a story, such as a major revelation, a hero in danger, or the fate of the galaxy hanging in the balance.

    5 - What can we do to help you improve your use of cliffhangers?

    I usually don?t plan that far a head.

    Exercise 1:

    I always thought that the cliffhanger at the end of Season 3 of Star Trek: TNG was one of the best ever. Captain Picard had been kidnapped by the Borg, the rescue attempt failed, and in the final moments Picard is revealed to have been assimilated. Commander Riker has to make a decision on whether or not to deploy a weapon to destroy the Borg cube, and Picard as well. Riker?s final word was: ?Fire!?

    I was most definitely hooked, and eagerly anticipated the return of the next season. The resolution of the cliffhanger was mediocre, but the build up was magnificent.
     
  6. SithGirl132

    SithGirl132 Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 6, 2005
    1 - Hi! Who are you and what sort of fics do you read/write?
    I'm SithGirl. I read a little of everything. I write mostly action and drama.
    2 - Have you ever used cliffhangers before?
    Oh yes. Just since sometimes in the middle of an action-packed or tense battle, it seems right.
    3 - Did they work? That is, do you think they were effective in making the reader want to come back for more?
    My readers thought so. They liked it. Or at least, they were back for the next chapter.
    4 - When do you think it is appropriate to use a cliffhanger?
    I think it's best when you have a huge surprise coming in your fic and you want it to be even more so, or when you're in the middle of a critical scene and it just seems like breaking it up is more Sithly.
    4 - When do you think it is not appropriate to use a cliffhanger?
    In the middle of something boring, just to fill space.
    5 - What can we do to help you improve your use of cliffhangers?
    I'd like to see some other writers' perspectives and ideas, since I'm in the middle of a couple of stories that I think may need some cliffhangers. Learning from others is always helpful.
     
  7. DarthIshtar

    DarthIshtar Jedi Grand Master star 9

    Registered:
    Mar 26, 2001
    1 - Hi! Who are you and what sort of fics do you read/write?

    I'm DarthIshtar. I write mostly angst or angsty mush or mushy angst. I read the same. I dabble seriously in humorfics.

    2 - Have you ever used cliffhangers before?

    So many times...

    3 - Did they work? That is, do you think they were effective in making the reader want to come back for more?

    Yes. Except all my readers start cussing and beating me up over IM because they all hate how effectively the cliffhanger makes them want to read more. For example, in my current monsterpiece, I had Leia nearly beaten to death and then we suddenly find out she's pregnant. Stop there. The verdict and the death sentence were both done as the abrupt end to a scene. My favorite, though, was with the verdict. I did it from two perspectives and the dialogue was identical, but the first version ended just before the verdict was read. Then we went to the defendant's point of view and repeated the entire scene with the actual verdict.

    4 - When do you think it is appropriate to use a cliffhanger?

    When there is need to create suspense and make the resolution more poignant.

    4 - When do you think it is not appropriate to use a cliffhanger?

    Before a 6-month writing hiatus. *coughnotmentioningnamescough*

    5 - What can we do to help you improve your use of cliffhangers?

    Focus my use of them and make them more concise.

    Exercise 1:

    In "The Usual Suspects," the story has revolved for the entire movie around Verbal Kint's telling of how the six criminals came to be involved in a disastrous heist set up by Kaiser Sose. The detective investigating the case has convinced Kint and himself that one of the criminals was Kaiser Sose and there are plenty of good reasons to think so. Kint is released as a police sketch of Sose comes over fax and the detective looks at his bulletin board. He starts noticing that all of the details of Kint's story matched up with names on posters or brand names around the room, even to the detective's brand of coffee mug. He runs past the desk where we see a sketch of Kint as Kaiser Sose. Kint is a cripple and as we see him leave the building, the camera focuses on his familiar, limping gait. It straightens and then begins to run. A car pulls up and he gets in--the driver is one of the major players in the story he told--and they drive away as the detective arrives on the street. It ends with an earlier shot of Kint saying that you will never catch Sose because once you think you have him, "Then poof...he's gone." Fade to black.

    In the TV show NCIS, Season 4, the entire season has been continuing a storyline about La Grenouille, who is an infamous arms dealer from France. The director of the agency has a personal grudge against him and she has taken major risks to try and bring him in or down. We know he had something to do with her father's death. Well, in the season finale, the senior field agent on the team, DiNozzo has just gotten out of a very sticky hostage situation with his girlfriend, Jeanne Benoit. As they're walking out of the hospital, a limo pulls up and he askss what it is. She grins and goes "my little secret." She opens the door and starts speaking in French to "Papa." As DiNozzo gets into the car, we see that her father is actually La Grenouille and he calls DiNozzo by a different name. We have no idea if she set it up, if he knows what is going on, if he recognizes La Grenouille and especially if he's being taken hostage. That's where it ended for the entire summer.
     
  8. KELIA

    KELIA Manager Emeritus star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Jul 26, 2005
    1 - Hi! Who are you and what sort of fics do you read/write?

    Hi, I'm Kelia. I love to read all kinds of fics, though I don't read very many dark stories. They tend to be too depressing for my taste and I'm a sucker for a happy ending. :)

    Up to now, I've written humor and suspense/mystery the most, though I am trying to broaden my horizons with mush.

    2 - Have you ever used cliffhangers before?

    Oh yeah, with every short story and epic. I love cliffhangers....well, okay, I love cliffhangers when I write them. It's not as much fun when a I read a really good one and am on pins and needles for the next update. :p

    3 - Did they work? That is, do you think they were effective in making the reader want to come back for more?

    Well, I've had curses, hexes, poxes and other various other forms of expression urging a quick update scattered throughout my stories, so my guess would be yes :D

    4 - When do you think it is appropriate to use a cliffhanger?

    Always. I like them personally because it helps to keep me interested in a story and I think it also keeps the readers coming back.

    4 - When do you think it is not appropriate to use a cliffhanger?

    Hmmmm....that's tough. The only instance I can think of is if you know you won't be finishing the story.

    5 - What can we do to help you improve your use of cliffhangers?

    Hmmmm.... I'll have to get back to you on that.


    Exercise One

    What would you consider to be the single greatest cliffhanger you've ever read in a book or seen on screen?


    Who shot J.R on Dallas (US TV show from *cough* the 80's)

    I loved how the one simple little scene had the whole country caught up in debates and down right arguements over who did it. I don't even remember what happened that season on the show other than that final scene.
    It definitely held my attention until it was resolved, mainly because my sister and I would engage in weekly fights over which one of us was right (and darn if she wasn't :mad: :mad:)

    Why did it work? Hmmmm....probably because everybody hated JR and the entire cast had motive and oppertunity to kill him. The shooter could have been anybody, and that's rare. Usually, a story will only have 2 or 3 realistically possible suspects.


     
  9. RX_Sith

    RX_Sith C&G Game Host star 5 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Mar 13, 2006
    1 - Hi! Who are you and what sort of fics do you read/write?

    Hello, I'm RX_Sith. I like to read all kinds of fics.

    And I like to write all kinds of fics.

    2 - Have you ever used cliffhangers before?

    Ummm... Can I tell you next time... okay... yes.. I do.

    3 - Did they work? That is, do you think they were effective in making the reader want to come back for more?

    I think for the most part, yes, the ones that I have used have worked. Sometimes though, I think most tend to use it more often than not.

    4 - When do you think it is appropriate to use a cliffhanger?

    As much as you need to for the story that you are telling. Should they be used every time you update your story? I would say no. But, if it is necessary, then by all means use them.

    5 - When do you think it is not appropriate to use a cliffhanger?

    I would say not to use them every time or chapter that you update your story. Some stories do require them, but if it's overused and required basically every time, then I think that it starts to lose it's purpose.

    6 - What can we do to help you improve your use of cliffhangers?

    Maybe by doing different exercises where you set up a certain task like the one in this post.


    Exercise One

    What would you consider to be the single greatest cliffhanger you've ever read in a book or seen on screen?

    I just give some of the most popular. Of course, the "Who Shot J.R." one in "Dallas" will probably be the one in TV that is most recognized. For Star Wars fans, the "No, Luke... I am your father..." was the best in the Star Wars movies.

    Horror films have mini-cliffhangers sprinkled throughout the movie, like Saw, Halloween, Jason, Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, Jaws, etc. as far as when the next victim will be attacked and how frightening can they make their death scenes.

    That particular movie genre features probably the most cliffhangers throughout the entire movie. But, again, after seeing the various different ways that someone is killed, tortured, etc. it does start to wear thin as these types of movies try to find that one part that will be talked about as the best "killing" in the film. So, horror films definitely abuse the cliffhanger the most, but science fiction films use cliffhangers in numerous areas as well.

    As long as the movie pulls back in its fan base for the next sequel, cliffhangers will be constantly used in movies. The same for certain TV shows as well. "Heroes" is a prime example of a current hot show that features cliffhangers at the end of every episode.
     
  10. The_Face

    The_Face Ex-Manager star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Feb 22, 2003
    1 - Hi! Who are you and what sort of fics do you read/write?

    Hello. I?m Face, and I write crime/action fics, and insane humor fics. I have also done some traditional Jedi stuff. But this is all with primarily OCs, the odd minor canon character. Though there?s more canon in my humor than in my mysteries and such.

    I read mostly OC stories ranging from Rebel/Imperial action to gonzo supernatural horror to cop drama to heist capers. I have a particular interest in the underworld of the GFFA.

    2 - Have you ever used cliffhangers before?

    Heck.

    Yes.

    :D Where would the mystery/thriller/intrigue/action genres be without cliffhangers? Safe on a wide flat plane I guess. Well, forget that. Forget that right now. I use cliffhangers fairly often, though I think I?ve gotten away from an overabundance of them in earlier fics. The first Galaxy Noir is a big culprit as far as that IMO. A vast majority of the (short) posts end with cliffies. I think I?m at a good number now though.

    3 - Did they work? That is, do you think they were effective in making the reader want to come back for more?

    I think so. Though, again, I now find those earlier ?a bounty hunter appears!?-type moments at every post repetitive and a little tacked-on. I think cliffhangers definitely make me want to read/watch more. Well, usually. More on that later?

    4 - When do you think it is appropriate to use a cliffhanger?

    Well they obviously work best at the end of the chapter, or at least end of the scene. When you want to keep up the tension and pace, the cliffhanger is there to provide some great momentum into the next part.

    4 - When do you think it is not appropriate to use a cliffhanger?

    When you?re putting in a cliffie just to have a cliffie. It should spring naturally from the plot. If it?s a plot twist cliffhanger, it springs naturally from the plot as the author knows it if not from the assumptions the readers had about it.

    Also, try to pace them. A cliffhanger every time gets tiring. Even 24 takes the occasional episode without a Big Surprise at the end. I do tend to use a lot of them in a row when I?m writing an extended action sequence (usually the climax of the story), but if they?re all flowing directly out of one another I think that?s fine. Just don?t suddenly introduce a new unrelated threat every post.

    Oh, and a note on cliffie resolution. If you let the audience hang on the cliff for a long time, do not just immediately retcon your way out of it. That's just cheap.

    5 - What can we do to help you improve your use of cliffhangers?

    Hmm? I really don?t know. But I?m always looking to learn, and this workshop should be a fun one. :D

    Exercise One

    That?s a tough one. Probably something on 24, but it?s nigh impossible to pick just one of those. :p Maybe near the end of Season One (and bear with me as it?s been a while since I watched this episode), when we?ve been teased with this mole in CTU all season, and then we finally see [hl=black]that the traitor is none other than one of the most likeable characters after Mr. Protagonist Jack Bauer himself? Nina Meyers. She?s been his closest ally up until we see her taking that phone call. And then when she actually kills Teri! :eek:[/hl] The latter isn?t a cliffhanger so much as a shock, but dang it?s a big one. I was definitely on the edge of my seat, eager to get back to the menu and play the next episode. I think it works because it had that build-up, and then suddenly reversed our expectations.

    A cliffhanger that leaves the audience going ?WHAT? NO!!? is a good one. ?How on Earth are they gonna get out of this?!? is another desirable reaction.
     
  11. correllian_ale

    correllian_ale Jedi Padawan star 4

    Registered:
    Jun 20, 2005
    1 - Hi! Who are you and what sort of fics do you read/write?
    I prefer getting in on epics. There's just so much fun involved.

    2 - Have you ever used cliffhangers before?
    I did, then I realized I was doing it too much.

    3 - Did they work? That is, do you think they were effective in making the reader want to come back for more?
    Readers seem to think so. Got a lot of :eek: afterwards.

    4 - When do you think it is appropriate to use a cliffhanger?
    Working on your three definitions, I'd say it can be used consistently.

    4 - When do you think it is not appropriate to use a cliffhanger?
    Every single scene change. Internal cliffhangers wear on me quick. Reading one scene then BAM! cliffhanger..scene change, BAM! another cliffhanger. At the point my mind willonly invest in one thread of the story line, and forget the others that are going on, and then I have to re-read and concentrate on the parts I skipped to move to the next phase of the last cliffhanger.

    5 - What can we do to help you improve your use of cliffhangers?
    I want to be able to use them more effectively and not feel the need to end every update with a major cliffhanger, but use the Zeigarnik Cliffhanger more effectively.



    Exercise One

    A very simple one to get us started. What would you consider to be the single greatest cliffhanger you've ever read in a book or seen on screen?


    I'm never good with "read" recall, so I can't think of any novels off the top of my head. The best one I've "seen" was the last episode of Lost. It combines the Internal and Unconvential Cliffhangers, in that it showed the island cast aways in the future, off the island. But it didn't show how they got there. The question from the beginning of the show was if they would indeed get off, but it only showed a couple of the castaways back in the real world, with no explaination on who survived, and who and why others chose to stay.

    So you know they got off, but how? And you know that it wasn't everyone, but why; so now you know the future but have the original answer, but are left with so many other questions. (kinda like the PT, you knew how Anakin's story ended, but not the whole journey there).


    Great new Workshop L_P!
     
  12. Darth_Manion

    Darth_Manion Jedi Youngling star 3

    Registered:
    Feb 5, 2007
    1 - Hi! Who are you and what sort of fics do you read/write?

    I'm Darth Manion, and I write action/intrigue, and I've dabbled in comedy. I'm pretty much an exclusively OC-guy, but I'm a fan of the Fett and a few other background characters. I generally like to read the same kinda stuff, but I branch out all the time. Something about staying tied to one genre and not picking up any moss, or whatever.

    2 - Have you ever used cliffhangers before?

    Occasionally. I use them a lot more in my original fiction, but the first few stories I posted on the boards were cliffies. I don't try to use them too often, or it will start to seem artificial, but thinking up a really juicy cliffhanger is something I really take pride in.

    3 - Did they work?

    I don't know if anyone noticed.

    4 - When do you think it is appropriate to use a cliffhanger?

    Well, at the end. Let the readers get to know the characters. Then, just when they least expect it, drop a 800-pound gorilla on them.

    5 - When do you think it is not appropriate to use a cliffhanger?

    Don't keep having cliffhanger at the end of each post. Then it becomes, 'oh! look at me! I can write a cliffhanger!' and you just keep beating your readers over the head with it until they lapse into a coma.

    6 - What can we do to help you improve your cliffhangers?

    Hmmm, y'see, my problem with cliffhangers is that they tend to be very bad for my character's health. I'd like to be able to write more cliffhangers without killing everyone in the story.

    Exercise One:

    Let's see... Okay, off the top of my head, one of my favorite cliffhangers was the end of season one of The X-files when [hl=black]the secret conspiracy-types shoot Deep Throat[/hl]. I totally did not see that coming!

    Another favorite would be the secret ending to Halo 2. After the credits, there's this cut scene with Gravemind and Cortana that blew my mind!
     
  13. dianethx

    dianethx Jedi Master star 6

    Registered:
    Mar 1, 2002
    1 - Hi! Who are you and what sort of fics do you read/write?
    Hi, I'm dianethx. I write all kinds of things from romance to drama to humor, action, horror, just about anything except poetry (I'm terrible at that).
    I tend to read things that are all over the place as well in terms of genre.

    2 - Have you ever used cliffhangers before?
    Heck, yes. Sometimes they are even deliberate. [face_blush] I do try not to overdo it, though.

    3 - Did they work? That is, do you think they were effective in making the reader want to come back for more?
    They seem to work. I've had some stories that were months old that people posted replies right away when I updated. I think that cliffhangers can be a powerful tool but should never be overused.

    4 - When do you think it is appropriate to use a cliffhanger?
    If the story calls for it, then use one. But use them wisely.

    4 - When do you think it is not appropriate to use a cliffhanger?
    Never force the plot so that it's going into a cliffhanger just to draw in the readers. Plus don't pull a cliffhanger out of the air. If you haven't given clues that one is coming up, it looks like you are just using cliffhangers to get people to come back.

    5 - What can we do to help you improve your use of cliffhangers?
    I always need help with writing. Sometimes, I would like a cliffie that really rips people's hearts or else one that's so subtle people may not even recognize it as such.... until later.


    The exercise - well, the big ones have been mentioned - the Who shot JR was huge and, of course, the end of TESB. We didn't find out whether Vader was Luke's father for three whole years!!! Oh, the anticipation.

    My favorite one, though, was a little scene at the end of the second Bob Newhart Show where Bob, after several years as a inn owner with his lovely blonde wife, wakes up in bed with his lovely dark-haired wife from the first Bob Newhart series - it had all been a dream but you knew that the dark-haired wife would make him pay for it forever! Completely unexpected and I was rolling on the floor laughing. The cliffie was never resolved.

     
  14. Juliet316

    Juliet316 Word Wiz Game Co-Winner star 10 VIP - Game Winner

    Registered:
    Apr 27, 2005

    Was it the Season two or season Three cliffhanger?
     
  15. Jedi_Liz

    Jedi_Liz Jedi Grand Master star 6

    Registered:
    Apr 24, 2000
    Season 2. Season 3 was just as upsetting and nailbiting, though.
     
  16. Luton_Plunder

    Luton_Plunder Jedi Knight star 3

    Registered:
    Jun 15, 2006
    Great responses, one and all :D

    I'll give it a day or two before launching into the first practical exercise just in case anyone else wants to mosey in and declare their intentions ;) So until then, I'll have a go at answering my own questions.

    1 - Hi! Who are you and what sort of fics do you read/write?
    Well, I'm Luton_Plunder and I like my Seedy OC fics. They're rife with cliffhangers at every turn, and I felt this somehow qualified me to run a workshop about them :p

    2 - Have you ever used cliffhangers before?
    Definitely. I like to throw them into a story at the end of chapters just after there has been a lull in action. If I've just posted a chapter that consists solely of exposition and tension building, I like to try and throw them in so that everyone knows there is something more interesting coming up.

    3 - Did they work? That is, do you think they were effective in making the reader want to come back for more?
    I think they work, though it depends on the magnitude of the cliffie.

    4 - When do you think it is appropriate to use a cliffhanger?
    Whoops, I kind of already answered this one. I think they're appropriate for my fics in two circumstances: 1 - when there's been a lull in action and the plot needs to be kicked along, or 2 - if I can clearly divide a particular scene into two separate acts. In that case I'll split them between two chapters and end the first with a cliffhanger.

    4 - When do you think it is not appropriate to use a cliffhanger?
    I'm going to agree with all of you who said "at the end of every post". If I've just used two cliffhangers in a row, I will actively try not to end the next chapter with one. And a big thumbs up for Ish's answer :p Cliffhangers really, really, really need to be resolved, so if you wont be able to resolve it you probably shouldn't post it :p

    5 - What can we do to help you improve your use of cliffhangers?
    I'd love to see how everyone else perceives them, how much is too much when it comes to cliffies, what counts as an acceptable resolution...generally, just get inside your heads and then exploit what I learn right back on ya'll :p



    It's been very informative reading up on everyone's opinions here, and it's really cemented my decision as to what the second task should be and given me lots of scope to work out the third one. I'll post it up either tomorrow or the day after. Until then, any other users feel free to jump in! Everyone else post your questions, comments and amusing anecdotes as you like ;)
     
  17. Luton_Plunder

    Luton_Plunder Jedi Knight star 3

    Registered:
    Jun 15, 2006
    Alright, now that we've given people time to read the responses and get involved, it's time to move right along! A big thanks to everyone that's been involved so far :D

    [b]
    [/b]
    [b]Plot Twists as Cliffhangers

    [/b]One thing I noticed about the first exercise was the presence of a lot of [u]plot twists [/u]and how they can tend to have the same effect as a cliffhanger. They are very similar, the basic difference being that a plot twist doesn't necessarily leave the audience wondering what's going to happen next as much as it casts a new light on the entire story before it. I'd put [b]Ish's[/b] example of [i]The Usual Suspects[/i], [b]Face's[/b] 24 example and [b]Manion[/b]'s X-files example into this category.

    That's not to say that a plot twist doesn't make the audience want to come back for more! Of course it makes them want more, the dynamic of the story is completely changed now - and that means that things aren't going to pan out as you originally thought. By that very fact, a plot twist is very nearly a cliffhanger in and of itself.

    More traditional cliffhangers - such as [b]Brodiew[/b]'s excellent Star Trek: TNG example, and the ever-classic 'Who Shot JR' - really up and leave right in the middle of the action. I really like [b]Brod[/b]'s example, finishing the episode with the word 'Fire' and having everyone wonder whether this really was the end of Captain Picard. Dead Man's Chest is a great example of a traditional kind of cliffhanger. Will they ever rescue Jack Sparrow?? We'll find out next time.

    So, I guess my point is this: A plot twist is almost the same as a cliffhanger, but it lacks one thing - a specific 'question' that the audience is left asking itself. Your more traditional cliffies will have that collective question. 'Will picard survive?', 'Who shot JR?', etc. If you can sum it up with a single, concise question, chances are it's a cliffhanger ;)


    [hr]

    Over to you, John Lithgow...

    [b]Exercise 2[/b]

    [image=http://img118.imageshack.us/img118/4845/cliffie01rk7.jpg]

    Alright, this is a two part exercise! We're each going to write the [i]first half[/i] of a traditional cliffhanger. Pick some characters, pick a setting, pick a situation and just when things get crucial - end the story! Remember, your traditional cliffhanger should leave the audience with a 'question' they can all ask themselves while they're waiting for the resolution.

    You can write the resolution to the cliffhanger if you like, but [i]do not post it[/i] yet. We'll have fun with this first half for a little while yet.

    Try to keep it under 1000 words. It doesn't have to be perfect, just enough so that the cliffhanger makes sense. When you have it, post it right here in this thread for all of us to read!


    [hr]


    Alright folks, you heard John Lithgow! Time to get those creative juices flowing. I'm looking forward to seeing what you can all come up with [face_mischief]
    >
     
  18. BigE

    BigE Jedi Padawan star 4

    Registered:
    Jul 31, 2002
    Geez, you guys are quick. After missing out on the start of the Titles Workshop I resolved to catch the next one...and you're already on the SECOND EXERCISE! Slow down!


    :p


    Anyway, I still need to do exercise 2, but here I am trying to catch up:
    1 - Hi! Who are you and what sort of fics do you read/write?
    [b]BigE, and on the rare occasion that I write, it tends to be humor/action focused, OC and non-OC.[/b]
    2 - Have you ever used cliffhangers before?
    [b]I try to use little cliffhangers in the stories if possible. [/b]
    3 - Did they work? That is, do you think they were effective in making the reader want to come back for more?
    [b]I think so. For the one story that I?m currently writing I?ve retained most of my readers.[/b]
    4 - When do you think it is appropriate to use a cliffhanger?
    [b]I think at any point in the story is fine, the frequency of use is another matter. One wouldn?t want to overdo it.[/b]5 - When do you think it is not appropriate to use a cliffhanger?
    [b]Not sure, except to refer back to the last answer which suggested that one may not wish to overload a story with cliffhangers.[/b]6 - What can we do to help you improve your use of cliffhangers?
    [b]I don?t know! I?m just here to learn![/b]

    [color=darkblue]Exercise One

    A very simple one to get us started. What would you consider to be the single greatest cliffhanger you've ever read in a book or seen on screen?

    For film/Television - briefly describe the scene and why you think it worked. Did it hold/is it still holding your interest until the cliffhanger was resolved? [/color]



    One of my favorite cliffhangers was in Star Trek the Next Generation, when one of the seasons ended with Captain Picard having been captured by the Borg, and altered to become one of them. It wonderfully left us hanging until the start of the next season wondering how the crew of the Enterprise could ever find their way out of that mess. (that?s pretty brief)
    >
     
  19. Luton_Plunder

    Luton_Plunder Jedi Knight star 3

    Registered:
    Jun 15, 2006
    Hey BigE - thanks for checking this out :D

    Sorry about moving quickly :p Great answers and examples!

    I just wanted to let you and everyone know something about the second exercise that I'd forgotten! [hl=white]This 'First Half' of your cliffhanger will be referred back to for several of the exercises to come, so once you've done this you will be armed with nearly everything you'll need for the entire workshop.[/hl] That way people can participate in any of the exercises they choose without having to do extra legwork.


    I'll give people about a week to post up their 'First Half' of those cliffies and then move on with the exercises. Of course, you can post anytime before or after that. Just go at your own pace :D

    In the meantime, feel free to post any questions or comments you might have!
     
  20. MsLanna

    MsLanna Jedi Master star 6

    Registered:
    Jul 8, 2005
    Okay, so this is what I cobbled together in the time between you posing, LP, and now.
    It's proabbly never going to the the light of a real thread, though. just a bit playing around with possibilities. This thread might be a great help there, too.:D



    Lorna raised her blaster at the other group. It was strange, but money was money, mission was mission, and if the other side of the conflict hired Mando'ade as well, that was just too bad. Fight outs were rare and said to be ugly, but right now, there was nothing she could do about that. Being the leader, she took a step forward, letting the muzzle of her weapon sweep over the Mando'ade of the other team.

    "So who's your alor?" It was a challenge.

    A green armoured man stepped forth, and Loran swallowed. That was unexpected and more than awkward.

    "That would be me," a well-know voice filtered through the speakers.

    In her helmet, she could hear Navir whisper a warning, but it was too late now.

    "Fair and square," Lorna announced. "The winner takes it all."

    Fett nodded shortly, raising his blaster as well. The members of both teams backed off, already acting as the one group they would be after the fight.

    The two circled each other cautiously, and Lorna went through all she knew about her opponent, while not losing track of the several weapons pointed at her. Suddenly, her jet pack roared to live, slamming her full-force into Fett. Not stopped by that opposition, the two of them sped on, right until Fett hit the wall behind him. Lorna knew it was only a matter of milliseconds before one of Fett's went off, and had already calculated the most promising trajectory upwards.

    Still up against him she ground out, "I'm not gonna lose again," just before she changed her direction and used Fett as a lever to jump.

    "Lorna."

    She jerked around in mid air and dropped to the ground like a stone.

    [hr]

    Make of that what you will.[face_tongue]


    EDIT:[face_hypnotized] hyphens [face_hypnotized] >
     
  21. Luton_Plunder

    Luton_Plunder Jedi Knight star 3

    Registered:
    Jun 15, 2006
    Action packed, MsL - Action packed ;)

    And left in a nicely up-in-the-air position. The question of course being 'Did Lorna win, or will Fett?"

    Thanks for being the first cab off the rank! I'll have something for you to do with this in a little while, but in the meantime I'm glad if it can help flesh out some story ideas for you ;)
     
  22. MsLanna

    MsLanna Jedi Master star 6

    Registered:
    Jul 8, 2005
    So that is action? Your winking smiley is kinda confusing me, Futon.
    But if it is, I like it and certainly will write more of it.:D


    Well, now you destroyed all my hopes. [face_plain] I thought I could try the scene in several ways with a big bad cliffie in the middle of it.
    I already had one that ended with her looking into the muzzle of a blaster and her getting knocked out. :p

    Well, when I see a cliff-hanger I usally ask "w00t?????" :eek: :eek:
    I'm not the articulate one there.[face_blush]
     
  23. Luton_Plunder

    Luton_Plunder Jedi Knight star 3

    Registered:
    Jun 15, 2006
    It's action alright! My emoticon use is just questionable [face_chicken] See?

    And sorry about those hopes and dreams there :( but I promise there'll be plenty of chances to tool around with these mini cliffhangers before the workshop is over!
     
  24. ardavenport

    ardavenport Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 16, 2004
    Well, I'm a bit late - the workshop started on a weekend when I was out.

    1 - Hi! Who are you and what sort of fics do you read/write?

    ardavenport - I've been writing fanfics since before the internet and since those were done under my name, Anne Davenport, my online name is close to that just in case someone from the old print, paper and snail-mail days turns up here. :) I generally stick with Jedi in Before the Saga, but sometimes try other things.

    2 - Have you ever used cliffhangers before?

    Yes.

    3 - Did they work? That is, do you think they were effective in making the reader want to come back for more?

    Yes, I think so. The readers said they wanted me to post the next part.

    4 - When do you think it is appropriate to use a cliffhanger?

    Anytime.

    5 - When do you think it is not appropriate to use a cliffhanger?

    Hmmmmmmm, I'm having trouble thinking of when you can't use a cliffhanger, but I suppose it would be in the middle of a dialog scene, with no warning. People might just think you forgot to put in the next part instead of intentionally stopping.

    6 - What can we do to help you improve your use of cliffhangers?

    Not sure. But sometimes you don't know what you don't know.


    Exercise 1
    What would you consider to be the single greatest cliffhanger you've ever read in a book or seen on screen?


    Someone has already mentioned it, but I would say the end of "The Best of Both Worlds" from Star Trek: The Next Generation. NO ONE I knew had any idea that it was coming, so it had great shock value. And you had to wait a whole summer for the next part, too.

    For film/Television - briefly describe the scene and why you think it worked. Did it hold/is it still holding your interest until the cliffhanger was resolved?

    This was episodic TV in the 80's. The story is supposed to be wrapped up at the end of the hour. That's just the way it went back then. Plus it was the season ender, too. So, it had to end, right? It didn't. And though it was horrifying for the character, Captain Picard looked extremely hot in his first Borg outfit. And he was super hot in his Borg underwear in Part II. :p




    Exercise 2
    Alright, this is a two part exercise! We're each going to write the first half of a traditional cliffhanger. Pick some characters, pick a setting, pick a situation and just when things get crucial - end the story! Remember, your traditional cliffhanger should leave the audience with a 'question' they can all ask themselves while they're waiting for the resolution.



    Well, this will be really traditional. . .



    Crumpled, dried leaves crunched under Luke Skywalker's black boots on the hard ground. The land around him was shadowed, like a darkened stage. The sky around Tomken's sister world glowed pale gray like a twilight halo where it blocked the sun. The weird, twisted shapes of the immobilized forest rose high above. Nothing would move until the sun returned. When the still-time in the forest ended.

    Something did move.

    His Jedi trained senses alert, Luke heard the faint swish of dried leaves and discarded wings, disturbed in the wake of someone passing.

    Luke stood still, hooded in his dusty black cloak, his hand resting on the hilt of his lightsaber.

    Closer, closer, closer. . . .

    He heard the faint sound of a blaster scraping on inside of a holster. Luke slowly smiled, his eyes half closed. He could feel the muzzle of the blaster pointing at the back of his head as if though a ghostly line of fire, connecting it to him.

    "Letting your guard down?" a familiar voice said.


    - - - tbc - - -


     
  25. The_Face

    The_Face Ex-Manager star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Feb 22, 2003
    Okay, I've got a concept and an opening to my response to Exercise 2. I'll post it, and responses to the cliffies posted thus far, when it's done, but I have a quick question.

    Is there a word limit on these? Because I've a feeling it'll be on the long side. At least we're just writing the set-up, so I can't take up too much time. :p Or can I? [face_worried]
     
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