How-to Tuesday

Impactful Endings, Part 6: The Cliffhanger

Every week, we update our current how-to series entitled, “Impactful Endings: How to End Your Story With a Bang!” This series is about experimenting with different story endings to ensure your conclusion is satisfying to you and leaves an impact on your readers. Our sixth post will be about ending your story with a cliffhanger.

The Cliffhanger

How many times have you watched a TV show and the finale episode left you wanting more? How many times have you read a story, and it ended with you feeling the same exact way? Well, that particular ending is called a cliffhanger.

A cliffhanger is yet another way to keep your reader engaged in your story and, at the same time, they will respect your efforts to keep them interested! Sometimes stories end with a clean resolution, yet a resolved ending every single time can be monotonous and predictable. Similar to our previous post about unresolved endings, cliffhangers tend to also have an unresolved ending. However, the main difference between and unresolved ending and a cliffhanger is that a cliffhanger tends to have a later continuation, such as a sequel.

TV shows frequently use the cliffhanger method to ensure that the viewers stick around for the next season. In the same way, you can tactfully use this method to create your story ending, and it will not only engage your readers, but also encourage you to use your creativity to continue your story!

The steps to writing your cliffhanger are generally simple and easy to figure out. However, it might be a good idea to review them as you begin your brainstorming.

  1. Cliffhangers usually occur right at the climax point of the plot. Before writing your story, it might be a good idea to fill out a plot diagram and figure out just when the climax of your story occurs!
  2. Think of how you want to ultimately end your story before writing it. If you don’t know how you want to end your story at all, a cliffhanger might be a sloppy way to end. Your readers might be disappointed when they read the second part if you try to quickly piece together an ending.
  3. Really try to exaggerate and build suspense; that will encourage readers to read part two.
  4. Don’t be afraid to take risks, it will make for a more interesting story!

And there you have it, the basic tips for writing a cliffhanger. Of course, there is no perfect way to form a cliffhanger. It simply depends on your story, but you can be sure that your reader will be excited to read on!

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