Monday, October 16, 2006

The cliffhanger.

One morning recently, I happened to watch the part of that The Simpsons episode where Homer is searching for his daughter Lisa from atop a vehicle with an extendable shovel. Just as he spots her and catches her attention, he loses control of the shovel that goes careening down the slope with him yelling his head off. With that cliffhanger in place, it was time for the commercial break. That got me thinking about Shahrazad (or Scheherazade). She was the brainy and spunky young wench who invented the cliffhanger for her magnum opus of tales that ran for one thousand and one nights. The cliffhanger occurred at dawn to earn her one more day’s reprieve. So inventive and resourceful was Shahrazad and so powerful her incentive – her neck on the chopping block – that she managed to insert every time a cliffhanger tempting enough for her Lord and Master to spare her life for one more day. The scriptwriters of daily soaps – with the TRP as their carrot – are worthy successors to her. One can safely aver that had she seen how far they’ve helped to evolve her brainchild, she would’ve been proud of the tribe she started. For a succinct outline of the art of story telling, go here: More about cliffhangers at More about Shahrazad at

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