1. Zieki
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    Zieki Member

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    strong chapter endings

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Zieki, Jun 16, 2009.

    I feel like this has been asked before because I feel like I've read it on this forum but I can't find it right now so...

    As it stands, my chapters seem to have a good beginning and climax and resolution in themselves but I can't end a chapter as strong as I'd like. I find myself getting to the end and saying, "okay, that was good," instead of "YES! I want to read more!"... so my question is: How do you end the chapter on a strong note leaving the readers wanting more?
     
  2. ChaseRoberts
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    ChaseRoberts Senior Member

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    I'm actually quite anxious to find this out myself. I know for a fact my endings to chapters are dreadful. They are either cliche filled, or just stop dead like I got bored and wandered off.
    Is there a way to do it?
     
  3. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    It really depends on what you're writing....obviously if its a thriller or something like that, you need (really) to end with a cliffhanger, keep the reader turning pages. In something like literary fiction, on the other hand, your chapters should end when the tone/theme/focus of the writing changes. It should be quite obvious. I wouldn't worry (unless you're writing something that needs cliffhangers) about chapter endings as such, just think of chapters as ways to divide sections of your novel that focus on different things. And if it doesn't make sense to have chapters, leave them out. They're not always necessary.
     
  4. OrdinaryJoe
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    OrdinaryJoe Member

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    I for one try to end a chapter at the conclusion of some type of marker in the story. This does not always mean something dramatic in nature. Sometimes it's simply a change in the location. Like if I was writing how excited a character was to go to London so she talks about it the whole plane ride to a stranger. I would end the chapter when the plane finally landed. This point would simply be a transition in the book. Going from traveling to arriving. Any transition within a book can be used as the end of a chapter.

    The other side of the story is that chapters can be as long or short as you like. So, I wouldn't end a chapter just because it's running into the ninth page of written text. Nor would I hesitate to end one just because it's only half a page in length. And if you really want to make things easy, don't use chapters at all. There is no law saying your book has to have chapters. It starts on page 1 and ends when it's over.
     
  5. Hsnodgrass
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    Hsnodgrass Senior Member

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    I like all the suggestions so far, all very valid points. For me, I like to think of chapters as scenes in a movie. When a scene changes that is the end of a chapter. Like after a very heated dialogue, change the chapter. A hitman shoots some dude and walks away nonchalantly to hail a cab, end chapter. Thinking of the story as a movie or TV show really helps with my pacing. All a chapter is is a way to moderate pacing.
     
  6. dagda24
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    dagda24 Member

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    The key to making a reader want to carry on reading is to leave them with something to think about, leave some questions unanswered, or if the story warrants it, end the chapter with a new question. Perhaps everything in the scene is resolved and just as the action goes off the boil the main character discovers something that throws everything in to turmoil.

    Try not to overplay it though, if you have too many questions left open then the reader might get frustrated. (Think of the first two seasons of Lost. There were so many unanswered questions that a lot of the UK viewers got irritates by it and dropped out in Season two. Not sure if it was the same in the US).
     
  7. ChaseRoberts
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    ChaseRoberts Senior Member

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    lol! Lost, yes, and we've seen what five seasons now... is anyone any clearer?

    It's all great advice, but my problem is not when it ends, but rather how, in a grammatical and word sense. I'll stroll through that section, see if anything comes to me.
     
  8. dailycrumb
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    subtle cliffhangers in the writing. A sudden new piece of information. This leaves the reader wanting to know more. The hows and whys. Endings are very simple.
     
  9. seta
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    seta Contributing Member

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    I found that my chapters end themselves when it is "emotionally right" -

    I have a central idea to each chapter. That idea is usually quite simple. For instance, chapter 2 of my first book is "Graduation Day" - which the chapter ends as everyone is walking off of the parade field after graduation. The next chapter takes place at dinner that evening.

    To me, each chapter is it's very own short story.

    Think about The Hobbit, Mirkwood was almost it's own story. The chapter with the trolls was fairly independent as well. Maybe it was chapters - I can't remember. But that's the idea, is that a chapter should be complete idea. Even if the trolls episode wasn't one chapter, my mind remembers it as such.

    Each chapter should be as long or as short as is necessary to convey an entire point of the story. The chapter "Complications" in Twilight was only 6 pages total, and the whole point was to introduce the complications between the vampires and the Quileutes. Or something like that.

    Anyways, time for me to go home and write.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    EDIT:
    I would like to share a chapter ending I just wrote. The title of the chapter is "Old Friends".

    Just from this short section, you can probably imply what the entire chapter was about. It draws a clear emotional conclusion for the reader and the characters. Furthermore, it illustrates my point that a chapter should be a short story in and of itself. This short story is about a couple who encounters "old friends" and the encounter becomes violent.

    Hope this helps.
     
  10. starseed
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    starseed Contributing Member

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    Agreed. I don't think you need to try and make the endings suspenseful or dramatic any more than the storyline warrants. If your characters and storyline are interesting then the reader will want to continue on. I don't really try and make chapters dramatic or leave the reader hanging with some sort of question. They are more just natural breaks in the story and scene changes.
     
  11. Dr. Doctor
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    Dr. Doctor Contributing Member

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    I think it'd be pretty cheap and silly to end EVERY SINGLE CHAPTER on a huge, emotionally resonating note. If every single marker in the story is dramatic/suspenseful, then it starts to lose its effect and become tiresome. It all comes down to how you pace your story. If you space out those bits, or at least do not shove them under peoples' noses, the reader will enjoy it much more.

    Me, I end my chapters whenever I feel like it, there's no real structure to it. Just whenever I think, hey, I need a chapter break; there hasn't been one in a while.
     
  12. Kirvee
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    Kirvee Contributing Member

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    I end my chapters in a similar manner to Seta.

    Sometimes I try to have some cliffhangers at the end of my chapters, other times I have it end at places I deem an appropriate end to what I wanted to convey.

    In the current novel I'm working on, I have the first 4 chapters (very) roughly planned out on paper in front of me. Each of the four chapters, as well as future chapters, has its own "theme" to it. The events that happen in a specific chapter are events that help to show the theme of the chapter. For example, the second chapter's theme is "Change" and the events that happen in that chapter involve one of my MCs experiencing a change that ultimately changes the course of their life. The end of the chapter, atm, has my MCs being transported to another place while both of them become unconcious from it. That then allows me to open up the 3rd chapter to explain what happened to them.
     
  13. RomanticRose
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    RomanticRose Active Member

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    There are no chapter breaks in my first draft, only scene breaks. On the first editing pass the chapter breaks are incredibly obvious.
     

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