Monday 1 April 2013

A-Z Challenge: A

My theme for A-Z is What I Learned About Writing from Watching TV aka Justifying my TV Habit. By necessity I won’t necessarily pick the most well written 26 shows ever as a) I might not watch them and b) I can’t pick 26 shows which all have good dialogue or these posts will get Very Repetitive Indeed. ;)

I’ll kick off with ALIAS which teases us that crazy wigs go a long way to making a show entertaining. But this post isn’t about the judicious use of props. It’s about CLIFFHANGER ENDINGS. Alias (along with Vampire Diaries) is a prime example of this. We end with Sydney in peril: facing up to a bad guy, falling down a mine shaft, opening a mystery Rambaldi artefact and we HAVE to tune in the following week to find out what happened.

Now I am not suggesting that this has taught me to end every chapter in the middle of a scene because that would end up with my chapter breaks feeling very strange. But it has taught me the importance of hooking people to turn the page. (Falling for Fiction’s great Hookers and Hangers blogfest showed that too!) People don’t read your novel all in one go. They put it down and need to be drawn to pick it back up the next week. Maintain that interest.

Great season ending cliffhanger :”Why are you wearing that ring?”

I could have gone for: Angel, Alphas…

A special thank you to ARLEE BIRD for starting this challenge!


  1. So what happened? *jokes* I'm not about to watch the re-runs but I did enjoy the show.

  2. I've seen the idea of 'mini-cliffhangers' floated around for fiction writing. It does help make a book 'unputdownable', because you want to flip that page and read through the next chapter so badly! 'The Hunger Games' is a pretty good example of mini-cliffhangers.

  3. Cliffhangers are very important but as you say, it also matters how and when to use them. Good theme!

  4. Cliffhangers help make us stay tuned. But no cliffhanger can save a terrible story. A good start Vik.

  5. Cool theme idea that got me hooked!

  6. Wonderful post. I think writers need to keep the cliffhanger ending in mind with every page they write. I finally did and it changed my story.
    Jenn @Scribbles From Jenn

  7. Great cliffhangers are actually quite hard to do. Sure, anyone can put their protagonist in peril, but making the stakes appropriate, and the danger real, is hard. One place I read this done well is FALSE MEMORY by Dan Krokos. He has mini cliffhangers at the end of each chapter, and some of them are big cliffhangers. The little ones keep you motivated to turn the page, especially if the chapter has been fairly low-key. The stakes aren't always huge, but they're appropriate and enticing. The big ones, where the stakes are enormous, are there to compel you to read on.

  8. I think you touch in a really good point (besides the wigs), that a page-turner doesn't always have to be a cliff-hanger. Wanting to know what comes next can be elicited in so many ways. Looking forward to more about this theme!


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  9. My chapter endings aren't cliffhangers, but hopefully there is enough intrigue to keep people reading.

  10. I agree that you don't need a cliffhanger at the end of every chapter. No matter how good the book, the reader does need to stop at some point and get some rest. LOL

  11. Further proof that J.J. Abrams is a genius. :)

  12. I like cliffhangers, but I agree, they don't need to be at the end of every chapter.

  13. Ah, yes- the cliffhanger. Where would Charles Dickens be without them? Answer: probably not in the poet's corner of Westminster Abbey. But Dickens was a serial writer, if all his books had been in novel format it would have gotten repetitive, I agree.
    Thanks for pointing this out, Viki!

    And Happy A Day to you!

  14. I think you just justified my TV habit too - we should all watch more, shouldn't we?

  15. I appreciate the judicious use of cliffhangers as much as the next person, but there are times I won't start a book series until all the books are out because I can't wait to find out what happens next! :)

  16. awesome way to relate writing skills & have fun researching it!


    happy a day!

  17. Great post! Alias definitely teaches us that lesson. ;)

  18. I've never actually seen the show, but I've heard really great things about it. Personally, my A show would be American Horror Story. So. Stinking. GREAT. :)

    Writing Through College

  19. Great start to the challenge Vikki :)


  20. Ida - - hee, glad you enjoyed the post thanks!

    Nickie - Hunger Games does maintain interest SO WELL it's a v. good example!

    Al Diaz - thank you, hope it goes okay, theme wise.

    Sheena-kay Graham - you are right, you need the good story!

    Regina Gort - thank you!

    Scribbles From Jenn - interesting to hear that made a difference for you!

    Colin Smith - I'll check out False Memory, interesting to see how they use cliffhangers, thanks for your interesting comment.

    Allyson Lindt - thanks here's hoping I can keep the theme up!

    Alex J. Cavanaugh - yes enough to make you turn the page I think is good!

    Maryann Miller- ha that's true, you need a breath!

    DL Hammons HE SO IS

    randi lee- yes every chapter might be a bit much.

    Beverly Fox- Dickens is a great example!! Thanks for commenting.

    Kimberly - WE SHOULD

    Lara,- ha, good ploy I hate having to wait months for the next one!

    Tara Tyler - hee it has been fun to think over!

    Nicole - Alias is FULL of cliffhangers!

    Samantha - I haven't seen that, I might check it out! :)

    Vikki - thanks love!


Please comment, I'd love to know what you think! :)