Writing 101: The Mini-Cliffhanger

There are some books that feel impossible to put down. You can’t stop turning pages. You keep on reading because you’ve got to find out what happens next. These are the books that readers remember. These are the type so books you want to write. And there’s a trick you can use it make it happen: the mini-cliffhanger.

Hanging By a Moment With You

Lots of readers hate cliffhanger endings in a book, but you can put all sorts of mini-cliffhangers in your book and still wrap things up neatly at the end. If you want to keep your readers turning the pages, put your cliffhangers where they belong: at the end of chapters.

The mini-cliffhanger is that moment that happens at the very end of a chapter. Maybe it’s a surprise visitor, a shocking revelation or some other sort of surprise. The rest of the story continues immediately in the next chapter, of course, but ending a chapter this way encourages the reader to keep going.

Lots of readers stop at the end of a chapter. One chapter before bed, that’s all. But when you put a mini-cliffhanger at the end of that chapter, maybe they’ll extend that reading session. They can’t stop reading now, not when Melissa has just announced that she’s pregnant. They’ll go to sleep later, after finding out what happens right after Roger tells everyone he’s in love with Tom.

You don’t want them to find it easy to put your book down at the end of a chapter. You want to leave them wondering, questioning, wanting to read more. The mini-cliffhanger is a perfect way to do that. So pick an exciting moment to end your chapters, instead of allowing scenes to resolve at the end. Each chapter should be a thrilling continuation, not a natural stopping point.

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