Make your chapter endings count. A book club member recently commented that she enjoyed the ending of each chapter in Baby Grand: “They made me want to keep reading.” Yay, I thought, I’ve done my job. The way I see it, chapter endings should serve two functions:
- To end whatever scene is going on in the book at a logical place that feels satisfying to the reader — the plot has moved forward and the reader had learned something new.
- To keep the reader engaged enough to want to turn to the next chapter.
I’ve read books, particularly thrillers, with chapters that just seem to end willy nilly, as if the author took a knife and just randomly cut one big chapter into two. Perhaps the author thought some of his chapters were getting a bit too lengthy or unruly and needed to be shortened — thriller readers seem to like brief, tidy chapters. Still, to me it just seemed like a waste of a new chapter heading.
Chapter endings need to make sense, need to bring a scene to a close. They should make readers stick in their bookmarks and wonder, Hmmm, what will happen next? And if they’re really good, the reader will reopen the book to find out.