Hello, everyone! My name is Q’Zion, and welcome to The Joys and Trials of a Christian Teen! Chapter endings are some of the most crucial aspects of a book to keep a reader’s interest. The entire reason why we read books for hours is because of the author’s ability to make us turn the page through increasing conflict and unanswered questions (until the very end, of course.) And a book filled with flat chapter finales is a quick downhill to boredom.
As authors, it is our goal to keep our readers on the edge of their seats as they emerge themselves into our story. So, today we will be exploring some of the most compelling ways to end your chapters. Let’s get this party started!
1. A cliffhanger
One of the most classic ways to end a chapter is the classic cliffhanger method. What’s behind the door? Who is the mysterious person? How will the protagonist react? Cliffhangers are that feeling that we get after a small meal. Although we’ve partially satisfied our palette, we still have a taste for dessert. After effective cliffhangers, the reader will likely turn the page due to the urge to know what happens to your characters next.
TIP: Cliffhangers are a writing tool that should be used in moderation. Too many within your story can cause repetition, a lack of versatility, and boredom for your readers, which is something we as writers want to avoid.
2. An exit or departure
And I don’t necessarily mean a literal exit; although, with enough details, your characters leaving a room can be an effective way to close a chapter. But you could also end a scene with your characters exiting from a situation. Whether that means removing themselves from a toxic relationship or exiting the Earth to go to outer space is completely up to you and the plot of your story!
3. Pose a problem
If there’s anything that makes a good novel, its the constant obstacles that we put in our protagonist’s way as they inch closer to their goal. And it makes for a great chapter when you end it with another problem for your main character(s). This will leave your readers curious about your protagonist’s reaction, and we all know what that means; turn the page!
4. Have your characters make a tough decision
If you decide to end one of your chapters with a problem, the beginning of the next chapter could be an overview of how your protagonist reacts to the newfound obstacle. Then, you could end the second chapter with your characters making a plan or decision on how to solve the problem. By using this technique, you are opening the door for more conflict as the “new plan” may or may not succeed in the favor of your characters.
5. Add a surprising plot twist in the last line
When it comes to finishing up a chapter, there’s nothing more satisfying (and gripping) then a last line that pulls the plot in a completely different direction. In my opinion, these chapter endings are the most effective when executed well because they simply make readers ask themselves, “What’s next?”
6. Ask a daunting question
One of my favorite ways to close a scene in my novels is by asking a daunting question that gets the reader thinking. For example “Who am I?” is a simple yet deep question that could get your readers thinking with your protagonist. You may even want your protagonist’s question to be addressed towards another character. There is plenty of room to be creative with this technique, so just go where your story takes you!
7. Have your characters make a vow
In every interesting story, the protagonist has some sort of goal or mission that they want to accomplish. And a good way to put their commitment to the test is to have them make a vow to themselves (or if you want to raise the stakes, someone important to them) as a way to end a scene. Later on, you can put obstacles in their way to make keeping their vow a much harder task.
8. A reminder of the conflict
To further explain this idea, around the 25% mark of a story (also called the “Fun and Games” section in the Save the Cat outline method) there is an introduction of subplots, and things may be looking up for the protagonist before the sudden blow of the midpoint, where things usually take a downhill path. While it’s okay to have “fun” and lighthearted chapters within our novels (which can actually add a lot of depth and character to a story) its important we don’t get off track from the conflict and theme of our story, while doing so. Therefore, sometimes its good to have an event or a character’s thought remind the reader of your main character’s mission and all that’s at stake.
9. A catastrophe
Instead of leading your readers to wonder what’s next in a cliffhanger, why not end your chapter with a disaster to spice things up? This can be a fantastic way to pick up the action after a period of a slower pace within your story, and amp up the amount of pressure on your protagonist; the perfect way to get your readers to keep reading!
10. Your protagonist learns something new
Finally, a great way to end a scene is when your protagonist learns new information regarding their goal. Depending on the point within your story and/or the current circumstances of your protagonist, this information could help or hinder them reaching their goal. Once again, that’s your call to make, as a writer with a great story to tell!
I had a lot of fun with creating this list for how we can end our chapters with a hook! Although I originally made it to help other authors who need help in this area, this will also help me in turn during my journey with NaNoWriMo, this year. Please tell me, what are some of YOUR favorite ways to end a chapter? Also, which one of the tips that I listed above did you like the best and/or find the most helpful? I would love to hear from you!
Have a beautiful and blessed day, everyone! God bless you all, and I will see you next time! Peace in! ~ Q’Zion ♡