Well-Known Member
Jul 14, 2021
Hello everyone!

I wanted to know your opinion about the use of cliffhangers, like leaving the outcome of an important battle, or the answer to a mystery for the next chapter (or for the next book, who knows), or if that is a horrible way to break the narrative flow.

Have you used them? Have you encuntered them?
I feel cliff hangers are okay for shorter novels and can create that 'I couldn't put it down' feeling. For longer, epic stories, I like to have clean break points at the end of a chapter to make it easier to put it down, potentially for several days. I dislike a novel that ends without the resolution of a major conflict. I feel cheated and I am unlikely to buy the second novel, due to the fear that the author will just leave me hanging again at the end to sell a third novel.
they work to drive the narrative forwards, but they need to feel like real cliffhangers, not ones that have been put in just to keep a reader engaged, and it's about balance in terms of how many etc.
I don’t have a general opinion about them. Like any writing tool, they can be effective when used properly. Keep in mind what they’ll do to momentum and to tension. Also be thoughtful of the length of your chapters and if you deliver on the promises made by the cliffhanger.
I agree, and with a lot of these "Can I use this technique?" questions my answer is basically the same: "Yes, if you can do it well". If you are going to use something in a novel, you ought to be able not only to use the technique itself properly, but to understand what it does to the rest of the book. For instance, if you kill off a character and then bring them back somehow, the reader will be aware that this might happen again, and killing more characters won't have the same finality.

The one thing I would say is that, when submitting to agents or publishers, is to follow their recommendations exactly. If they ask for the first three chapters, don't send them the prologue and the first two chapters (unless you've turned the prologue into Chapter 1...), and so on. I've always seen it as showing that you can work with them.
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