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Friday

Hooks at Chapter Endings

Ever glanced at the clock, promised to yourself you'd read "just one more chapter," and then wind up awake for another hour? Two authors who always do this to me are Jenny B Jones and Denise Hunter, a couple of my favorites. Why does this happen? Well, apart from a really good story line, we have hooks to blame.

So what makes a good hook? How can we begin and end our chapters in a way that makes readers stay up late into the night, wanting to know more of the story so badly they'll risk sleep deprivation the next day?

1) Stop in the middle of the action. There's nothing like being in the middle of a scene when the chapter ends. We have to keep going so we can find out what happens to the character.

2) Make us worry. There has to be something important at stake for your character. If your character has just fallen out of a gondola in Venice, for instance, we are going to be worried.

3) Make us interested. Find a way to keep your reader guessing and wanting to know what comes next. Your chapters shouldn't end with your characters talking about a shoe sale or sitting around drinking tea. This is a problem I had early on in my writing, especially in my first novel.

Treat every chapter ending like it might be the last page a person reads. Strive that hard to keep them hooked, and you'll be pleased with what you come up with.

What are some strategies you employ to keep readers hooked?

2 comments:

  1. Hi Ashley! I'm enjoying following your blog.

    I guess in my writing I tend to stop in the middle of the action, or sometimes just as the action starts, in order to hook the reader. I usually find myself changing my chapter breaks as I revise the novel, deciding that a different moment is a better break than the one I used before.

    I use these hooks not just in chapter endings but also in deciding where one paragraph ends and another begins. They're a very useful tool.

    And I know what you mean about deciding to read only one more chapter before I go to sleep and ending up reading half the night. A book that makes me want to keep reading so bad is definitely worth being sleep deprived.

    www.lilcornerofjoy.blogspot.com

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  2. Thanks for your thoughts! Very true about the paragraphs as well!

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