This post was originally posted by the late John Yeoman on October 4, 2012. His title was “Seven Simple Ways to Build Suspense.” John’s website http://www.writers-village.org has been disabled.
How many ways can you hang a page? Or a scene? Or a chapter? That old ploy, the cliffhanger, has made a comeback of late in the penny dreadfuls of Dan Brown. Every episode ends upon a note of intrigue, horror or mystery to entice us to turn the page.
His counterpart in melodrama Kathy Reichs uses so many hangers – around three per scene – that she must pluck them out of a database.
Can we use page hangers without appearing to be formulaic?
Yes! (Please turn my page. I shall reveal the secrets soon…)