Writing Raven


Unleashing the Power of Cliffhangers

This year, Writing Raven Author Solutions is breaking down the 15 beats of writing a bestselling novel based on the three-act structure for you. 

Whether you write mystery, thriller, fantasy, or romance, one of the most powerful tools in your toolbox is the cliffhanger. The mirror image of the hook, the cliffhanger, keeps readers on the edge of their seats, wondering what happens in the next scene, chapter, or book (in a series).

Turning the page = a leap of faith.

A well-executed cliffhanger evokes a visceral response from the reader. It ensures they turn the page because they can’t wait to find out what happens next.

What makes a cliffhanger a cliffhanger?

A cliffhanger is a literary device that leaves your reader hanging at the edge of uncertainty, compelling them to crave a resolution. It’s a moment of intensity, the equivalent of a nail-biting scene in a movie, that keeps them craving more.

The key to a successful cliffhanger lies in the balance between revealing enough to pique curiosity and withholding enough to create tension. Leave your reader hanging…like this squirrel.

brown and white squirrel on brown tree branch during daytime

How do you write a compelling cliffhanger? Here are four ways to add a nail-biter at the end of your next chapter/book.

💡No wayCreate An Intriguing Plot Twist

One of the most common techniques is introducing a surprise plot twist. This twist can take the form of a shocking revelation, an unexpected event, or the sudden emergence of a hidden antagonist. 

💡OMG, no! Leave Your Character(s) in Peril

Placing your characters in peril is a classic and effective method for building suspense. Bonus if you write a series and you leave a fan favorite in jeopardy. Readers become emotionally invested in their fates, and when the beloved character is left facing danger, death, discovery, or an unresolved conflict, the urge to discover their outcomes becomes irresistible.

💡Say WHAT? Leave Questions Unanswered

Another powerful technique involves employing unanswered questions that demand resolution. Unresolved plot threads, backstory secrets, and unsolved mysteries encourage readers to turn the page in search of answers.

💡Holy bananas! I can’t wait to find out! Create Anticipation

Sometimes, the power of the cliffhanger lies in ending a chapter on a high note, creating anticipation for what comes next. This doesn’t always involve life-threatening situations but can be a revelation, a romantic development, or a sudden twist that promises excitement in the upcoming pages or a follow-up story.

By unleashing the power of the cliffhanger and using it in conjunction with your hooks, you can create an immersive reading experience that leaves a lasting impact on your readers, ensuring they anticipate each new chapter, preorder the next book, and relish every twist and turn.

If you’ve enjoyed this article and would like a more in-depth breakdown of how to use these tools, as well as a few more, consider joining our subscription program to access our Premium Content. https://writingravenauthorsolutions.substack.com/subscribe?

Scribble on, Scribble Strong,

The Writing Ravens

Grab your copy of Writing Raven’s Breaking Down the Beats Worksheet here: http://writing-raven.com/product/breaking-down-the-beats-writing-exercise