This is a standard piece of advice you read in articles talking about how a writer structures their scenes and chapters. It’s pretty logical; you always need to leave the reader wanting more.
This usually plays out with an ambiguous end to an action scene (where someone might or might not be injured), or a crucial bit of information is dropped like a bomb at the end of the chapter, compelling the reader to turn to the next one rather than putting the book down for a breather.
What I’ve always struggled with is the question of whether this doesn’t become a cliche’ unto itself. I mean, won’t the reader, at some point, realize there will always be a cliffhanger at the end of the scene or chapter, causing said device to lose its efficacy?
I know that I’ve read books where it gets old after a while, where reading the cliffhangers doesn’t make me go, “Oh my God, what happens next?!” And I start to ignore them altogether.
There’s also the fact that it can be pretty hard to sustain that kind of tension in each and every scene. Whether we like it or not, some scenes are simply ‘filler’ scenes, whose only purpose is to move the story from one Act to the next; and they might not contain any pivotal information or action sequences, but are nevertheless intrinsic to the story.
What happens then? Do you try to force a cliffhanger into it?
What do you think? Are cliffhangers always necessary? How else do you tackle the issue of keeping readers hooked?