Ending Chapters with Anything Other than an Ending

Darker PagesAs a writer, the last thing you want to do is give your readers an excuse to put your book down. Be relentless. Think of your chapter breaks as commercial breaks. You don’t want the reader to walk away. You want them to dive right into the next chapter.

So, how do you accomplish this?

For one, end a chapter mid-scene. Don’t wrap everything up with a nice neat bow. If a scene consists of Randy entering a kitchen, getting attacked by a werewolf, and killing said werewolf with a silver spatula, then your chapter break shouldn’t be after the werewolf dies. No, it should be when the werewolf first lunges. And then the next chapter break should be when he realizes the dead werewolf is his brother Ronnie.

Poor Randy.

Chapter breaks don’t always have to be so dramatic, of course. Another effective device is to end the chapter by recalling an image or metaphor that’s been used throughout the scene.

So, maybe in the wake of Ronnie’s death-by-spatula, Randy makes himself a cocktail. Maybe that drink becomes a metaphor for his relationship with his dead brother. It’s sweet but it’s also mighty strong. It’s cold but it burns going down. Maybe the chapter ends with him downing that drink and tossing it against the wall. Glass shatters. Ice falls to the floor.

The chapter closes with Randy picking up the pieces. The scene might be over, but its emotional momentum carries the story forward. The reader turns the page, because they want to see what Randy will do next.

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