by Mary Connealy
End each chapter in a way that hooks the reader and keeps them turning the page, because if someone is going to set a book down it’ll be at the end of a chapter. So how to hook a chapter?
This is something I try really hard to do. I use comedy, action, word play or cliffhangers to make it vital to begin that next chapter.
I’m a premeditated hooker. Wait a minute????
The end of a chapter is a place to have a lot of fun as a writer.
Here’s an example of a chapter ending hook from In Too Deep
>>> Her wobbly backbone bent under the pressure. “If you’ll have me, Ethan, I’ll marry you.”
Ethan smiled and shrugged as if she’d asked him if he wanted a cup of coffee, and said, “Okay, why not? I don’t want to sleep in the bunkhouse.”
It was so far from the romantic proposal of a girl’s dreams that Audra was glad she didn’t carry a loaded shotgun.
She might’ve started blasting.
“You certainly smell better than Wendell.”
“I can barely stand all the sweet talk.” He was sorely afraid that was the closest he was ever going to get to a compliment out of the contrary woman.
Out of Control -The first part of this is from Audra Gilliland’s POV. At the beginning of chapter five we jump to Rafe Kincaid escorting Julia home.
Her [Audra's] days of letting any man control her life were over.
Her father and Wendell had done a poor job of it. She was taking charge.
“Things are going to change in this household.” She spoke the words as a vow to God. The changes would start as soon as her husband stepped back inside that door.
She’d gone along believing a woman must. But that was before she’d met Julia and seen how brave and smart a woman could be.
Julia was stronger, smarter and more independent that any woman Audra had ever known.
Audra was changing right now to be like Julia.
Julia Gilliland was a half-wit, and no amount of Christian charity would change that one speck.
Chapter and scene ending hooks aren’t just a good idea, they’re fundamental to a well written book. I spend time on the ending of each chapter doing my very best to write it in a way that will make a reader want to see what’s next.
I also try to train readers to expect hooks. So now they’re not looking at the end of a chapter as a chance to set the book down and get back to work or feed their children or any of that nonsense.
Now they’re anticipating that I’ll do something special with the end of chapters. They’re anxious (in my dreams at least) to see how the next chapter will begin.
So, use cliffhangers, language, comedy, or explosions, but hook the chapter ends and you’ll have hooked your reader.
Mary Connealy writes romantic comedy with cowboys. She is the author of the successful Lassoed in Texas, Montana Marriages, and Sophie’s Daughters series. Calico Canyon was nominated for a Christy Award, Doctor in Petticoats was a finalist for a Rita Award, she is a two time Carol Award winner.