Yes, I know. You might have read the title of this post and done a double-take. What? Cliff-hangers? Those things that leave us hanging on the edges by our fingernails and scraping the skin off our hands, while worrying about death way down below? Yeah, I wouldn't call that wonderful.
I'd have to say readers/writers have a love-hate relationship with cliff-hangers. After all, they do make writing quite a bit more interesting, fun, and well... good. But when we're on that "readers" side of the slash, and we just want to know what happens but there's another book that's not even out yet. We'll die before then of craziness. It's agonizing. Pure torture.
I, however, like to inflict torture on my readers. >:)
It started a long time ago when I got this book out of the library that was all about how to get "published". It was a kid's book, though, and it was basically a whole bunch of little ways that kids could get their writing out there, no matter who reads it. It was actually really cool and helpful, and I wish I remember the title so I could remember it as one of my favourite books.
Anyway, one of the ideas that it gave was about this thing called cliff-hangers. It suggested that you write a story, split it up into sections ending with cliff-hangers, and send it out to readers, section by section.
This was the one idea that stuck out to me, so I took action. I started by sending out a segment of my story each week, each segment ending with a cliff-hanger. It was agonizing, I'm sure, for the readers to hold on for a week not knowing what happens next but it was quite enjoyable for me.
And it was an AWESOME idea. At first, I wrote and then sent as I went a long. I soon figured out this was a bad idea, and have since changed my ways and I write out the stories, edit, and split them before I send them out. Oh, I send them out through e-mail, by the way, to a bunch of friends and family. Let me tell you: they love them!
Since I sent out that first fragmented story in about grade seven (so, five years ago) I have sent out about six cliff-hangers. Pretty awesome!
And... Other Reasons Why Cliff-Hanger Stories Are Awesome
1. They are a great way to connect with readers. Unpublished writers don't always get that, and it's a good, non-scary way to do that. Your family and friends have to love you.
2. It's great motivation for finishing a story. As I said before, I've sent six cliff-hanger stories, which means I've finished six stories. A lot of people struggle in finishing a story. But when I think about the readers and the awesome comments and support they give me, I want to give them stories to read, and I think up ideas, and I get excited and... there's another cliff-hanger done.
3. You can get comments from readers! Well, kind of... my readers are kind of lazy, even when I beg them to comment on the segment. But I always get a slight warm fuzzy feeling when I read someone's reply that says, "This is torture waiting for the next segment!"
4. It's awesome fun trying to think up ways to torture people with writing....