What exactly is a Cliffhanger?
According to Wikipedia, A cliffhanger or cliffhanger ending is a plot device in fiction which features a main character in a precarious or difficult dilemma, or confronted with a shocking revelation at the end of an episode of serialized fiction. A cliffhanger is used to ensure the audience will return to see how the characters resolve the dilemma.
More popular in the 1920’s serials and Movie Theaters, Cliffhanger hangings are now primarily used by television soap operas. Remember Star Trek-The Next Generation?
Leaving the reader without the ending at a certain point is an old trick employed by writers.
In the story, One Thousand and One Nights, the queen Scheherazade, who is facing a morning execution on the orders of her husband King Shahryar, devises the solution of telling him a story but leaving it at a cliffhanger, thus forcing the king to postpone her execution to hear the rest of the tale.
Do you like Cliffhanger endings? How many of you short story writers employ this tactic. I used a cliffhanger ending in one of my stories where a wife leaves her husband just before an important event in their life without any indication to the readers as to what would happen to her life after that.