Flash Fiction Challenge: The Cooperative Cliffhanger, Part One

Last week’s challenge: Spin the Wheel of Conflict.

I’m writing a serial right now, a story called “The Forever Endeavor” (read the first part for free at Tor.com), and one of the tricks with writing a serial is getting people invested enough to read the second part. And thus one might embrace the art of the cliffhanger — in pulp terms, the protagonist or another character is dangling over the edge of the cliff. Their fate, certified by doom. And then the next chapter reveals how they got out of such a sticky wicket.

You dangle them from the cliff. You save them from the cliff.

Doom? Salvation.

Question? Answer.

That’s the barebones idea, of course — cliffhangers can have way more nuance, and can be more emotional than physical, too. The end of a marriage! The pull of a trigger! The press of a forbidden button! The goal of the cliffhanger is to walk the audience right up to the edge of uncertainty and then leave them there, jaw dropped, unsure what could come next. It’s a sharp shock — and the only medicine is to read to the next chapter.

I wanna play with that idea, here.

Here’s what you’re going to do:

You’re going to write an unfinished story.

Around 1000 words that leads to a cliffhanger of some kind.

Then, next week, we’ll pick up in part two —

Where someone else may write the end of your story.

You’re writing, in a sense, to entice another writer to want to complete the second half of your tale. To answer the cliffhanger, to be the one who saves the day, solves the mystery.

Like I said: ~1000 words.

Post at your online space. Link back here so we can read it.

Due by next Friday, 9/27, by noon EST.

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