Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Last Word – Part One

Recently, I’ve been doing edits for one of my critique partners who sends me the chapters as she writes them. I was reading along merrily getting wrapped up in the story. Then I got to the end of chapter six.
It ended with a bang. Now I was desperate to find out what was going to happen.

Unfortunately, my critique partner hadn’t written it yet so I had to wait until she did, to find out the outcome of the scenario. She didn’t disappoint.
The incident got me thinking about chapter endings and how to end each one of them with that final burst of energy. That last paragraph or line that makes readers lower the book with a momentary sigh, or hastily turn to the next page.

I thought I’d share with you some of my favorite chapter endings from some authors I love and see if we can discover what techniques they use that demonstrate this really well. 
Be aware that some of these endings might contain some spoilers as to plot points, etc.


1 – Suspense – Mary Lu Tyndall is one of the best I’ve ever read at using this type of bang. The first time I read her “Legacy of the King’s Pirate” series, I could not stop turning pages. Just one more chapter. Just one more chapter. Which is exactly the response you want from readers.

Here’s an example from her novel The Falcon and the Sparrow.
Scraping sounded in the hall. A hollow boot thundered like an approaching storm. Blood iced in Dominique’s veins. The click of the door latch echoed through the room, and in walked Admiral Randal.

Here’s another great end from The Frontiersman’s Daughter by Laura Frantz.
At last they were gone, slipping away into the wall of woods. Invisible, but ever present. Silent. Perhaps deadly.

If that’s not suspenseful I don’t know what is. Chilling, and at the same time, almost poetic.
2 – Foreshadowing This is one of my favorite techniques. Adding a hint of a “something’s not quite right here” is a perfect way to hook a reader, especially at the beginning of a novel. Here’s an example from Julie Lessman’s A Passion Denied.

Brady strode into Eileen and Pete’s apartment and drew in a deep breath for the task ahead. An angel instead of a man. His lips quirked into a sour smile. That would certainly be nice. Especially at a moment like this. His jaw tightened. As if he could qualify. Angels didn’t have his past.

She leaves us hanging, wondering just what Brady’s past is, and why it haunts him so. What a cliffhanger!
3 – Humor A fun device and one that will keep readers turning pages every time. Mary Connealy shines here and always manages to end many of her chapters with a fun LOL line. Here’s an example from Out of Control.

Julia Gilliland was a half-wit, and no amount of Christian charity would change that one speck.
Another example from Melanie Dickerson’s The Healer’s Apprentice.

If, as an apprentice, Rose could impress Frau Geruscha with her skill, she would become the next healer—needed, respected. She could avoid the indignity of marrying someone out of desperation. So she’d never experience love. Most married people didn’t, either.

Sarcastic humor, mixed with what was, in the era, truth.
4 - Internal Monologue – Ending a chapter with a characters thoughts is one of the best and most popular techniques. One of my favorite examples comes from Julie Klassen’s The Silent Governess.

Slowly I became aware of their hooded looks, their unconscious shrinking back from us. Now they would believe the traveler’s accusation that my ability had been a trick all along. All their applause and ale and wagers accepted dishonestly. In his eyes—in theirs—they had all been made fools by us. By me. By my silence.

These are just a few examples of ways to hook your readers with chapter endings. Next week I will continue this with even more techniques and examples that will keep your readers turning pages. So stayed tuned!!

Happy Writing,


Now it’s your turn. Share one scene or chapter ending from either your own novel or one you’ve read recently and we’ll chat up and comment about chapter endings. What worked for you and what didn’t?

***GIVEWAY – I’m giving away a copy of Chameleon, by Jillian Kent. A stellar Regency romantic mystery with a lot of great chapter endings too. Leave a comment to be entered into the drawing and I’ll announce the winner in next week’s blog post. Don’t forget to leave your email!


Jeannie Campbell, LMFT said...

I'd love to win Jillian's book! I haven't had the pleasure of reading her yet, though we know each other. Thanks for hosting the giveaway, Amanda!

the character therapist

Tracy Krauss said...

great examples - I'll be waiting for the publication of this book!

Cheri said...

I would love a chance to win her book and discover a new author.

Thanks for the opportunity.

In Him,


Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post. One question...Is it possible to do the internal monologue chapter ending with a story written in 3rd person?

Amanda said...

Consider yourselves entered, Jeannie, Tracy, and Cheri!

I'd say it's possible to do IM chapter endings third person. Most of my novels are written third person and I do them that way. The IM might have to sometimes be put in italics, but yes it is possible.

Hope this answers your question!

Susan said...

I love Regencies! silygoos at gmail dot com.

karenk said...

would love to read this beautiful novel, amanda...thanks for the chance ;)

kmkuka at yahoo dot com

Carolyn Boyles said...

What a great website! I learned so much. The book sounds wonderful and I'd love to read more about that period of history.

authorboyles at