I grew up reading the Harry Potter books. They were real page-turners – I was always eager to keep reading. In particular, many chapters ended in cliffhangers.
I took a lot of creative writing classes, but none of them taught me how to write a book like that. They taught me a lot of theories about Conflict and Symbolism and Scene Structure. But none of them taught me a theory of how to write a page-turner. So I was forced to invent my own.
Like any theory of “good writing”, this theory isn't objectively true – it won't work on all readers. But I'm going to say it as if it's true, because it's been useful to me. Also, I refer to fiction writing in this post, but this theory applies to any form of narrative, including movies, comics, news articles, etc..
A classic cliffhanger is a type of promise. It says, “Just turn the page, and I'll tell you what happens next!”
Promises are what makes the reader what to keep reading. But there are lots of different kinds of promises. Some are [...]Continue reading How to Write Cliffhangers: a Theory of Writing...