Thursday, 9 June 2011


A cliffhanger might be defined as a moment of suspense that leaves a reader on tenterhooks waiting to find out what happens next.
One might argue that the greater the tension, the greater the impact, but how much drama can a book take? Cliffhangers are useful devices on which to end chapters, but used too often they might become repetitive and rather predictable (the antithesis of what they should be) thus losing impact. Also, they must fit naturally into the plot and fit with the overall flow of the book. Forced cliffhangers that are largely irrelevant are likely to be transparent to a reader and a turn-off. There should be some future response to the cliffhanger which moves the plot forwards.
There is a clear argument for cliffhangers in serials, but as a reader I feel there has to be a balance. Sometimes I prefer a chapter to end with a resolution and the new one to start with a teaser introducing a new problem. If the book has succeeded in hooking me already, this isn't a deterrent to continue reading and may even provide a welcome natural break for sleep and other mundane necessities!
Finally, what about genres? Clearly, cliffhangers have an important role in suspense/crime novels, but there is plenty of scope in romance, too. A romance promises to deliver love and the more precarious the path towards it, the more the tension heightens and the sweeter the final reward.
What I don't like, however, are books that end on a cliffhanger. Open endings I can deal with, but cliffhanger endings definitely not!


  1. Good point about genre making the use of cliffhangers different. I write fantasy with lots of adventure, so cliffhangers are easy to fit into the natural flow of the plot. In other genres, a cliffhanger might appear more contrived.

    Feel welcome to hop over to my place!

  2. I definately don't like cliffhangers at the end of stories either. Even in series. They make me more frustrated than anything else.

  3. Hi Megan,

    I don't mind cliffhangers at the end of stories, if the cliffhanger is something new, but I dislike the type which just keep you in the dark and never reveal what they have been teasing you with throughout the whole of the book. They frustrate the hell out of me LOL

    Thanks for popping by to see me dangling on the cliff's edge!