An author needs to hook a reader from the very beginning. Inciting incidents or a slam-bang opening line leads to an intense first paragraph, then a great first page, which then expands into an irresistible first chapter. Let’s face it, authors are professional hookers. However, never forget that every chapter must have a “chapter-ending hook” as well.
For the beginning or end of a chapter, “hook” is simply a term used for clever device that which will grab the reader’s attention and hook them like fish. With their emotions and curiosity sufficiently teased, their hands will flip pages.
A Brief List of Chapter-Ending Hook Ideas*
Revelation: We learn something new about a character or a clue to a mystery. The revelation can either be character or plot-based.
New character: Method to introduce a new character (almost self-explanatory).
Questions: Sometimes an answer generates more questions.
Decision: Your MC has a decision to make and all choices have dire implications.
Sex: Never end a chapter with sex, end it with the probability that something carnal could happen.
Temptation: All heroes or MCs should have “feet of clay,” as in a flaw or weakness. Tempt your characters and you will also tempt your readers to keep on reading.
New Conflict: If some conflict is resolved then a new one must be introduced. Or take an existing conflict and augment it.
Danger: The classic “cliffhanger.” A villain’s reappearance can mean a new danger as well.
*Well, what are you waiting for? Add some below. 🙂
Watch Some TV
As much as I hate, despise, and loathe some of the banal nonsense that passes for entertainment on the old “boob tube,” I must admit that you can learn a lot about hooks from TV. Television writers have to deal with hooks all the time. They are usually inserted for a commercial break because they don’t want you to reach for the remote control.
Take care that you watch something current. I know that it is always nice for an old rerun of the original Star Trek or The Twilight Zone, but their commercial breaks happen whenever the station decides to sell you something. Also, there were fewer commercials back in the 1960’s (or whenever) and they’re timed differently these days.
Stop Being So Nice and Polite
Perhaps you’ve noticed that to effectively hook, you have to be something of a “meanie” to your characters. Sometimes you have to be brutal and vicious. Just turn on the news, bad things happen to good people all the time. Any guilt you feel will be erased by your pride in producing a higher quality end product.
Every Time You Reply – Little Frankie Doesn’t Cry