Slowing the pace or resolving the conflict – any conflict, even a little one – at the end of the chapter or scene gives your reader an opportunity to put your book down and turn off the light. Bad news for any author aspiring who has designs on the New York Times 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 and build to the end always pushing the conflict up the next notch. So 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.
Answers are a must – but only in small doses. Weave in the answer through the beginning of the next chapter or scene, or leave the thread dangling until the reader absolutely needs to know in order to increase believability.
At this point, my critique group is accessing my WIP, TRICKLE OF LIES, in chunks. Reading through the first 100 pages for posting, I noticed a number of chapter hooks that were designed to keep my readers forging through to the next page.
I picked a random hook: Boston Donavan waited for the first sheet to finish printing from his fax machine before snagging the page. The ‘receive’ light glowed amber as another piece of paper rolled into the printer. Across the cover page, Dump (his deputy) had scrawled notations regarding the origin of the documents.
A second sheet popped free and Boston immediately recognized the Austin police letterhead. It took only minutes to scan the contents then he crumbled the page’s edge in his fist.
With a glare, he focused on his closed bedroom door. As though he could see the woman lying in his bed, he swore. “Son of a bitch, she’s lied to me again.”
Does the reader know what’s on the pages printed from Boston’s fax? Nope, but they know it has to do with a police department and that whatever has been revealed means he’s been deliberately lied to, or at the least, misled and the woman doing the lying is in his bed. Uh-oh. This hook is designed to keep the reader moving forward and pushing toward the end of the book.
Share a hook from your WIP, or one from your favorite book.
As always, you’re welcome to drop by my back porch. Actually, it’s cooling off a little here in Texas. BBQ is on the grille and beer in the cooler. Drop on by anytime.
Until next time