4 Ideas for Ending Book Chapters So Readers Will Kill to Know What Happens Next

A great article by Jack London on Helping Writers become Authors site:

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Good book chapters are like bad treasure maps. They will lure you in. They will lead you through uncharted territory. Yet, at the end, they will not yield the treasure—they will just make you want to continue the search.

What Is the Structure of Book Chapters?

Ideally, each chapter will cover an event, a character, or a storyline with internal cohesion. Its first paragraphs often stake out the new territory. Its middle portions relate to or progress the overall story. The chapter should build on characters or events that lead toward the story resolution. The end of the chapter should hint at something to come without giving away when or where it will next be seen.

But how should a chapter end? Should it try to loop back to the beginning paragraphs and complete a story arc so the chapter is internally complete? Should it act like a cliffhanger á lá The Da Vinci Code, a sort of door-slams-shut-with-no-way-out nail bite? The answer, of course, depends.

Traditional Transition Points for Book Chapters

When the following chapter will change the scene or the setting.
When the following chapter will change the period in which the current phase of the story takes place.
When the following chapter changes the focus on the characters or conflict.
When the following chapter changes the story line.
When the following chapter changes the point of view.

Notice a common thread? The author knows what is coming, but the reader doesn’t. So, how should book chapters conclude to keep the reader engaged?

Consider this: the end of a chapter should not end much of anything. Instead, imagine writing the concluding sentences as hints of reminiscence for what led everyone up to that point, tinged with hope, anxiety, or fear for what lies ahead.

For example, dropping a kid off at the bus to summer camp is much more interesting when there is a hint of dread, the parents waving goodbye in smug comfort as their child’s head disappears among the other kids, the child (or the reader) knowing what the parents do not, that someone has dumped their anaconda into the camp lake.

Continue reading at:

4 Ideas for Ending Book Chapters

11 thoughts on “4 Ideas for Ending Book Chapters So Readers Will Kill to Know What Happens Next

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