• Member Since 30th Jan, 2013
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Viking ZX

Author of Science-Fiction and Fantasy novels! Oh, and some fanfiction from time to time.

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Being a Better Writer: Cliffhangers · 11:06pm Aug 27th, 2018

Afternoon readers! I hope your weekend was exemplary! Mine was actually pretty rough: I twisted my lower back again and got a vertebrae out of position. It’s … not comfortable, especially as it aggravated a muscle imbalance in my pelvis (which was due to one knee being weaker than the other) and made all those muscles go berserk … Long story short, there was a period on Friday, before I found an exercise video that made these muscles release, where even moving could make me gasp in pain.

Yay! More material for another book!

Anyway, it definitely disrupted my weekend. I spent my days lying on the floor, trying to keep my back as straight as possible to try and even things up. Thanks to a massage therapist, the muscles in my back and pelvis have mostly relaxed, but the vertebrae is still out of position, so I’ve got an appointment with a chiropractor …

Anyway, point being I almost cancelled today’s Being a Better Writer so that I could catch up on things … but that wouldn’t really be fair. Besides, I’ve got some good topics coming up, and really want to get to them. So, without any further talk, let’s get to today’s topic: the cliffhanger.

Cliffhangers are a pretty classic bit of storytelling, as well as pretty self-explanatory. At least, as a concept. A cliffhanger is when you end a chapter or a story with a character hanging from a cliff in some fashion. Not a literal cliff (at least, not always), but in a sense that the protagonist is under an imminent or some sort of danger. And at the most basic, that’s pretty much all you need to know: End a chapter or a story on a moment where your characters are in peril. This ratchets up the tension, and keeps your reader wanting to turn the next page. But is that all there is to it? Well … no. Because like anything else in writing, there are good and bad ways to do this, and other elements such as pacing to take into consideration.

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Comments ( 1 )

Cliffhanger overdose is what I constantly see in cartoons and anime. Though the effectiveness often is tied down to how invincible the character in trouble is. Time definitely is a factor in making it worse, as a show drags on though seasons, the less worried I get for the characters. And if they try to make it dramatic later down the road, it often can lead to breaking of suspension of disbelief. Prime example for me is the MLP Changeling Finale. (How the fsck the incompetent Chryssi managed to nab literally all the powerhouse cast aside from the protagonists of the episodes, heck if we know.)

Lethality rate is also a factor. Too little and you never get worried for the protagonist. Too much and you stop caring for anyone. It's probably why I don't think ever worked on me in MLP by design, because it's for little kids, thus they are never in lethal danger.

Biggest Videogame cliffhanger still is Half Life though.

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