Slowing the pace or resolving a major character conflict at the end of the chapter or scene gives your reader an opportunity to:
1) put down your fabulous writing
2) turn off the light
3) and dream about some other author’s characters
Not quite a Kiss Goodbye – but too close for any aspiring author who has designs on a Best Seller list.
Make your readers hang around and hang on, forcing them to read through what would be a natural place to break.
Use strong hooks.
As writers, we WANT to finish the thought, to build to the end – always pushing the conflict up the next notch. BUT – and it’s a huge BUT, resolution is the last thing that needs to happen at the end of a chapter. Break the action right in the middle, leave the reader asking the question, ‘What happens next?’ or even ‘OMG, I’ve got to find out more.’; and you’ll provide all the incentive readers need to keep . . . well, to keep reading.
Character answers are a must.
Readers won’t tolerate being left hanging or in the dark – indefinitely.
But like good whiskey – a shot at a time is the best way to enjoy.
Instead of wrapping a chapter – Weave the answer through the beginning of the next chapter or scene. Leave the thread dangling until the reader absolutely needs to know. There is power in the payoff with this technique.
Certain notable authors published their works as serials: Louisa May Alcott in A Long Fatal Love Chase, early Louis L’Amour works, and YA author, Gary Paulsen, started his work in ‘shorts’.
They believed and used . . . the HOOK.
If you’re unfamiliar with STRONG HOOKS, then familiarize yourself with the above listed authors. Sometimes oldies really are golden.
Still not convinced?
Are you watching this season’s AGT?
Before every commercial break . . . here’s what’s coming — stay tuned, don’t leave the room, keep watching.
How about the news? Pick any station broadcast. They honestly spend more time telling you what they’re going to tell you, than the actual ‘telling’ of the news story. Why? . . . here’s what’s coming — stay tuned, don’t leave the room, keep watching.
What do these major entities know that is important to writers?
Stay tuned, don’t leave the room, keep . . . reading.
If you wrap the scene up, put a bow on it, give the package away . . . guess what? Your readers aren’t forced to ‘stay tuned and keep reading’.
From my WIP – The Grave Digger – protagonist, Emma McBride has come to town to visit her godfather, Gus, who owns The Red Belly Bar. Gus is Emma’s closest living relative, and the man who has protected her for years. To catch up on the latest news, Emma is pumping Margot, long-time friend, and the godfather’s secret crush.
“Burke? Who is Burke?” Emma searched her memory, drawing a blank, but not liking the fact that some man, some stranger had convinced her godfather what was best. “Is that one of the infamous card buddies?”
“No.” Margot seemed to draw out the answer. “I thought Gus had spoken to you of this matter.”
“What matter?” Tension knotted in Emma’s stomach. She might only happen through town twice a year, but she checked in on a weekly basis. “What is it I don’t know?”
“Gabriel Burke, he runs the business. Each day, for the last six months. Shortly after your last visit, he came.” Margot’s snow white brows knitted in concentration. “No one expected him to stay. Then one day, he is a partner with your godfather at the Red Belly bar.”
With a nudge against the china, Emma pushed away the remains of her snack and focused all her attention on her companion. “Exactly how sick is Gus? And tell me the straight of it. ”
Confusion then a bit of anger sparked the older woman’s gaze. “I do not keep the secrets from you, child. But it would seem your godfather has kept too many.”
* * *
If storms came in the form of gauzy lace shirts then the gypsy-like creature, who’d just whirled through the Red Belly bar’s front door, appeared to be a heavy-duty downpour. Faded jeans hugged all the right curves and stopped above a pair of slim ankles. Some nonsense of strappy leather sandals crisscrossed her feet. Pure California or some reincarnated flower child was Burke’s first thought. Until she pulled free the wide-brimmed hat and shook her head. A waterfall of blonde strands unfurled like golden silk down to her slim waist. Then the woman turned and Gabriel Burke stopped thinking at all.
This scene is in Chapter One, the closing of Emma’s POV and her scene, and then the opening into Gabriel’s POV and his scene. *** marks the spot. The conversation is designed to leave the reader asking questions. It’s already established how much Emma loves her godfather, how she visits this specific town to spend time with her godfather, even how Emma expects – as we often do – that her godfather will live forever. Now, she’s learned he’s ill. That someone – some stranger – has influenced her godfather’s decisions. Someone who’s only been in town a short time, and now has partnership in her godfather’s bar. You bet she has questions, and so does the reader.
Share a hook from your WIP, or one from your favorite books.
As always, you’re welcome to drop by my back porch. It’s heating up here in the deep south. BBQ is on the grille (Veggies, too) and beer in the cooler. Drop on by anytime.
Until next time