Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Book Hooks

It’s not easy to know where to end a chapter. As much as possible, you want it to end with a hook, something that will make the reader want to keep reading, even though it’s way past bedtime, even though they’ve got other things to do.

Some people say they end when the scene ends. Period. When the scene is over, they quit. But, let’s face it, sometimes a scene goes on too long. A writer can imagine the scene going on and on, people talking or fighting, looking at scenery, discussing other characters, whatever. Sometimes you have to take a hard look at what you wrote and ask if all that is necessary. Can you stop the scene earlier and create a hook, as well as making what is included in the scene more relevant?

If you feel you need it all in, even if it peters out and doesn’t have a hook, can you break it into two chapters? Find a spot where you can stop with a hook, then pick up in the next chapter, reworking it so it, too, ends with something that hints at things to come or leads in a direction that will keep the reader reading.

Everybody knows the first chapter has to end with a hook. A hook is just what the word implies – it hooks the reader into reading more. But each chapter is important. They won’t each have a huge hook like the first, but they should each in their own way make the reader want to keep turning pages.

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