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Anne R. Allen's Blog

...WITH RUTH HARRIS

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Anne writes funny mysteries and how-to-books for writers. She also writes poetry and short stories on occasion. Oh, yes, and she blogs. She's a contributor to Writer's Digest and the Novel and Short Story Writer's Market for 2016. 

Her bestselling Camilla Randall Mystery Series features perennially down-on-her-luck former socialite Camilla Randall—who is a magnet for murder, mayhem and Mr. Wrong, but always solves the mystery in her quirky, but oh-so-polite way.

Anne lives on the Central Coast of California, near San Luis Obispo, the town Oprah called "The Happiest City in America."


Anne blogs at Anne R. Allen's Blog...with Ruth Harris 
and at Anne R. Allen's Books

Sunday, October 12, 2014

How to Write Chapter Endings That Make Readers Want to Turn the Page


Chapter endings. We don't hear as much about them as we do about beginnings, do we?

But compelling chapter endings are just as important to writing success as grabby beginnings. Especially in these days of the "Look Inside" feature on most retail sites. 

These days, a book can sink or fail on the strength of the "Look Inside" and how much it makes the reader want to go onwhen going on means actually, um, paying for the book.

Just for grins, I decided to check the "Look Inside" of some of the most popular novels right now, and checked the last sentence of the first chapters. I thought some of them were typical of that author's style, but others were surprising. So I came up with...


A "Chapter Ending" Contest 


I chose some random books from Amazon's top twenty bestseller list and copied the ending of the first chapters from the "Look Inside".

Can you match the ending of the first chapter to the book title or author?

If you get the right combination of numbers and letters, you'll be eligible to win a copy of HOW TO BE A WRITER IN THE E-AGE, written by one of those top-20 bestsellers, Catherine Ryan Hyde (with a little help from moi). Or you can choose POLISH YOUR FICTION (see below), by our guest, Jessica Bell.

And to make the contest even more fun, add your own chapter ending sentence or sentences (up to 40 words).

Catherine Ryan Hyde herself will pick the best one (think how cool that would look in a blurb or query!) More below. 

Stop by next week to find out if you've won. I'll have the answers and the winner's names in next Sunday's blogpost


The Bestsellers


1) Inferno by Dan Brown, 

2) Life after Life by Kate Atkinson.

3) Gone, Girl by Gillian Flynn

4) Take me With You by Catherine Ryan Hyde

5) Burn by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge

The First Chapter Endings


A) I felt an immediate, intense need to get inside. By the time I'd gone twenty feet, my neck bubbled with sweat. The sun was still an angry eye in the sky. 

You have been seen.

My gut twisted and I moved quicker. I needed a drink.
***
 B) Earlier tonight, her original mission had gone horribly awry. The coo of a single dove had changed everything.

Now she had come to make it right.
***
C) "I'll be up," August said. "Just knock."

Then he spent the rest of the day wondering how big a mistake he had actually made.
***
D) "This isn't a drill, gentlemen," she said, looking up at the Bennett safe house, growing rapidly now on the flat screen. "Welcome to life and death."
***
E) Around the table, guns were pulled from holsters and pointed at her. One breath. One shot.

Ursula pulled the trigger.

Darkness fell.
***
And now here is some great advice on how to write your own chapter endings from Australian writing teacher and author Jessica Bell, editor of the IndieStructible Anthology and author of a great series of writing books. She's going to tell us how to write chapter endings that will make those readers plunk down their hard-earned cash to read what comes next. 


HOW TO WRITE CHAPTER ENDINGS THAT MAKE READERS WANT TO TURN THE PAGE 

by Jessica Bell



A good chapter ending is like having one mouthful of your favourite food left on your plate, but not yet feeling full, so you go for seconds ... and we hope, thirds, and fourths.

The key to a great chapter ending is to introduce a new conflict.

It doesn’t have to be much; a hint of what is to come in the next chapter will suffice. Nor does it have to be anything groundbreaking. It could be as simple as revealing something that changes readers’ opinion about a significant character, or reveals a new motive. Or it could be as complex as hinting at the conclusion to the story, but not revealing enough information for the reader to be entirely sure that’s the case.

In other words, end with something that poses a new question, or hints at an answer, for the reader.

You may think it’s difficult to do this at the end of every chapter. If so, your chapters might be too short. Could you be mistaking the end of a scene for the end of a chapter?

Chapters do not need to end where a scene ends. You can have multiple scenes in a single chapter. Most authors divide their scenes with a line space, or a centered symbol such as three asterisks.

I advise you comb through your manuscript to locate all the turning points in your story and reorganize your chapters so they end where the turning points begin. On some occasions it might simply be a case of rearranging your sentence order to give your chapter endings more punch.

Have a look at the following examples and consider how much more powerful the second version is as a chapter ending.

Weak chapter ending:


I stare at my computer screen, clenching my teeth, flexing my fists under the desk. I click my email closed to reveal a shot of me and Celeste as teenagers in our murky green school uniforms, her feathery blonde hair teased high enough to nest squirrels, my fringe gelled into a wave big enough to surf through. 

It was three weeks before I decided to skip tryouts for the football team because she told me she was pregnant and wasn’t sure if it was mine. She blew cigarette smoke into my mouth, in the hope I might get turned on and forget about it.


Strong chapter ending:


I stare at my computer screen, clenching my teeth, flexing my fists under the desk. I click my email closed to reveal a shot of me and Celeste as teenagers in our murky green school uniforms. 

She’s blowing cigarette smoke into my mouth, her feathery blonde hair teased high enough to nest squirrels, my fringe gelled into a wave big enough to surf through. It was three weeks before I decided to skip tryouts for the football team.

Because she told me she was pregnant.

And wasn’t sure if it was mine.


What does the second example do? It ends on something that is bound to change readers’ opinion of Celeste. And not only Celeste. It could also change readers’ opinion about the narrator. 

For example, the reader might have more sympathy for him now and want to read on to see if he receives any concrete evidence regarding his paternal status.

Sure, the first example triggers this reaction too, but it’s definitely weaker. 

Why? Because this new information is hidden between distracting description, and it makes it sound like something the narrator just thought to mention because he was reminded of it. 

But by isolating those last two sentences in the strong example, not only does this new information have a more powerful impact, but it also shows it has great significance to the plot.

Here’s a checklist so you can polish your own chapter endings


1. Do your chapter endings pose a new question, or hint at an answer to a question related to your plot?

2. If not, locate the turning points in your story and end your chapters there.

3. If necessary, rearrange the sentence order so that the most impactful information is the last thing you read.


Jessica Bell is a contemporary fiction author, poet and singer/songwriter/ guitarist and the Publishing Editor of Vine Leaves Literary Journal as well as the director of the Homeric Writers’ Retreat & Workshop on the Greek island of Ithaca. She makes a living as a writer/editor for English Language Teaching Publishers worldwide, such as Pearson Education, HarperCollins, MacMillan Education, Education First and Cengage Learning. Connect with Jessica online: Website | Retreat & workshop | Blog | Vine Leaves Literary Journal | Facebook | Twitter


How about you, Scriveners? How are your chapter endings? Do they leave your reader hanging on the proverbial cliff? Do you have any questions for Jessica? 


The Contest


Choose Part #1 or Part #2 or both.

Part #1: In your comment, match the numbers of the books to the letter of the quote you think belongs, in this format 1) A, 2) B, etc. 

We'll have the answer in next week's post.

If there's more than one winner I'll go to Random.org and choose a winner.

We will gift that winner with a copy of the ebook HOW TO BE A WRITER IN THE E-AGE

Part #2 Give us the ending (up to 40 words) of your own WIP's first chapter (or segment, if it's a short story.)

We will gift a second copy of HOW TO BE A WRITER IN THE E-AGE to the author of the best final sentence of your first chapter.

For either prize, Jessica has generously offered a copy of POLISH YOUR FICTION from Jessica if you prefer, or if you already have HOW TO BE A WRITER.

NOTE: If you have a WordPress blog, do NOT sign in with your WordPress ID. Google will have a hissy fit. They demand a Google ID because they are a big tech company and can get away with whatever they *&%# want. If you have gmail or are on Google Plus, you have a Google ID. If that doesn't work, send it to me in an email and I'll post it.

Amazon #1 Bestseller Catherine Ryan Hyde will judge. 


Entries close on Thursday, October 16th at Midnight, Pacific Time

Winners will be announced on this blog on Sunday, October 19th. You will have one week to claim your prize. Contact me at annerallen dot allen at gmail dot com to get your book.

***

BOOK OF THE WEEK


Want more advice on how to self-edit your manuscript? Check out Jessica’s new release:

 Polish Your Fiction: A Quick & Easy Self-Editing Guide.





Are you ready to publish or submit to a literary agent? You might be. But is your manuscript as squeaky clean as you think? This book will help turn your manuscript into a shiny book. With more than ten years’ experience as an editor and author of both fiction and nonfiction, Jessica Bell offerstried and tested advice on the quickest and easiest ways to polish different areas of Writing Style, Consistency of Prose, Grammar, Punctuation, Typography, and Layout.

Each section is armed with a numbered checklist for moments when you need that “at-a-glance” reminder and nifty Microsoft Word tricks that will save you time. At the end of the book there are also magnificent accounts of editorial mistakes other authors have made during their careers, to show you that no matter how many times a book is edited, something always slips through—so don’t be so hard on yourself!

OPPORTUNITY ALERTS


Writers’ Village International Short Fiction Contest $24 entry fee. Prizes of $1600, $800, $400 and $80. A further ten Highly Commended entrants will receive a free entry in the next round. Professional feedback provided for all entries! Any genre: up to 3000 words. Deadline December 31st.

SCHNEIDER FAMILY BOOK AWARDS: NO ENTRY FEE. These awards honor an author or illustrator for a book that embodies an artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences. Three awards of $5000 each will be given annually in each of the following categories: birth through grade school (age 0-10), middle school (age 11-13) and teens (age 13-18). May be fiction, biography, or other form of nonfiction. Deadline December 1, 2014. 

TENNESSEE WILLIAMS LITERARY FESTIVAL SHORT FICTION CONTEST $25 ENTRY FEE. Submit a short story, up to 7000 words. Grand Prize: $1,500, plus airfare (up to $500) and accommodations for the next Festival in New Orleans, VIP All-Access Festival pass for the next Festival ($500 value), plus publication in Louisiana Cultural Vistas magazine. Contest is open only to writers who have not yet published a book of fiction. Deadline November 16th.

For NEW WRITERS! THE FICTION DESK NEWCOMER'S PRIZE ENTRY FEE £8. First prize £500, second prize £250. Short fiction from 1,000 - 5,000 words. Writers should not have been previously published by The Fiction Desk, and should not have published a novel or collection of short stories in printed form. Deadline October 31st.

GLIMMER TRAIN VERY SHORT FICTION AWARD $15 fee. Maximum length: 3,000 words. 1st place wins $1,500, publication in Glimmer Train Stories, and 20 copies of that issue. 2nd place wins $500 (or, if accepted for publication, $700 and 10 copies). 3rd place wins $300 (or, if accepted for publication, $700 and 10 copies). Deadline October 31.

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79 Comments:

Blogger Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Good examples, Jessica. I still need to divide my latest manuscript into chapters and that will definitely help. (Yeah, it's always the last thing I do.)
Already have the book so won't guess the endings. I don't think I'd get most of them anyway.
I'll give you the ending from chapter nine of my last book, CassaStorm:
Yes sir, thought Mevine. Do you need all of our findings from tonight's events?
No, thought Byron, his gaze on Bassan. The truth landed heavy on his chest.
I think I've found the reply code for the probe.
(Sorry, the telepathic dialogue is in italics, but that's lost here...)

October 12, 2014 at 10:10 AM  
Blogger Jessica Bell said...

Thanks so much for having me today, Anne. Looking forward to reading everyone's entries. I know I won't be judging, but I'm sure I'll be entertained!

Thanks for dropping by, Alex!

October 12, 2014 at 10:16 AM  
Blogger Ruth Harris said...

Cliffhangers, baby. :--) The name of the game to keep the pages turning!

October 12, 2014 at 10:49 AM  
OpenID pillsandpillowtalk.com said...

Fab post. It's a great help in keeping my next book on track!

October 12, 2014 at 11:59 AM  
Blogger ryan field said...

A highly overlooked part of novel writing. You can get really creative with chapter endings if you're writing erotic romance :)

October 12, 2014 at 12:19 PM  
Blogger jbiggar said...

Great post Ruth, and you're right, I know even for myself I always read those first few pages before I buy the book.
I decided to go with #2, Here's mine from my newly released novel, Tidal Falls,

Finally, silence.
She turned the brass knob, grateful it slid open and hurried to her room, her mind already filled with the next step of her crazy plan.
Escape. 

October 12, 2014 at 12:41 PM  
Blogger Debra Eve | Later Bloomer said...

Loved those examples from the current bestsellers! Yes, a few were obvious, but more had me stumped. So simple yet insightful: "The key to a great chapter ending is to introduce a new conflict." Writing nonfiction is rewarding, but now I want to get back to fiction! Thanks, Anne and Jessica.

October 12, 2014 at 1:23 PM  
Blogger Suzie Quint said...

I would love to win this. I just finish Take Me With You but I discovered Catherine Ryan Hyde with Don't Let Go. One of my favorite books.

part 1
1-B
2-E
3-A
4-C
5-D

part 2:
It wasn’t any of his business, Ezra thought as he slid through the crowd after Annie. And she probably wouldn’t thank him for butting in.
He was going to anyway.

October 12, 2014 at 1:32 PM  
Blogger Suzanne said...

I love this post. I agree that endings are often overlooked, especially compared to beginnings. Great suggestions, and ideas for chapter endings. I've been working hard to make my chapter endings hookier. Previously, I use to tie them up with a nice neat bow, now I look for those page-turner moments.

Here's my entry for part two. The end of chapter one for my contemporary middle grade novel.

I know I should be grateful they put out the fire--

Screeeeech! The sound of firetruck brakes.

Yeeeeeeeeeelp! The screech of my dog, Avis.

I spin. All I see is black.

Black tire. Black road. Black dog down.

October 12, 2014 at 1:52 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

It took me a while to learn to hang off those cliffs when I started writing. I always wanted things to be "finished".

October 12, 2014 at 2:04 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Pills--I thought it was great too. Jessica will be back when she wakes up. She's living in Greece right now, so she's on a different timetable.

October 12, 2014 at 2:05 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

ryan--Thanks. I thought so too. Ooohh, better not let my brain go there....:-)

October 12, 2014 at 2:06 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

JBiggar--This isn't Ruth's post. I know we can confuse you with so many guests. This one is written by Jessica Bell, a long-time writing teacher and literary author. Do check out her great writing books.

Thanks for the entry. Suitably page-turning!

October 12, 2014 at 2:09 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Debra--Thanks for stopping by. Your blogpost today about the former Amish woman was fascinating. I feel the same way. Nonfic is fine, but I need to get immersed in my fiction writing and there never seems to be any time!

October 12, 2014 at 2:11 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Suzie--Thanks much for stopping by and entering our contest! Catherine's writing is amazing. Even if the stories weren't so heart wrenching and compelling, her prose alone offers a master class in novel-writing.

October 12, 2014 at 2:13 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Suzanne--I was the same way--with that compulsion to "tie it up with a bow." I thought Jessica's suggestions were great. Thanks for your entry!

October 12, 2014 at 2:14 PM  
Blogger Barry Knister said...

Thanks for giving us a chance to strut our stuff. #2: here's the end of chapter one of my suspense novel WIP:

Eyes shut, she felt pain thudding with her heart, in waves. In whatever time now passed, a profound sleepiness came to her. It was still there with the creak of floorboards above, then nothing.

October 12, 2014 at 2:20 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Barry--Ooooh. That's a page-turner for sure. Thanks for the entry.

October 12, 2014 at 2:44 PM  
Blogger Julie Musil said...

Excellent advice, Jessica! I swear, I just finished Gone Girl and thought it was amazing. One of my favorite chapter endings is when Nick thinks, "It was the fifth lie to the police. I was just starting." Or something along those lines. Ugh! So I knew then I was dealing with an unreliable narrator who happens to lie to the police while his wife is missing. YES! Awesome chapter endings in that book.

October 12, 2014 at 3:05 PM  
Blogger Julie Musil said...

Oh, and I already have the book so that's why I'm not entering. Thanks, though!

October 12, 2014 at 3:06 PM  
Blogger Phyllis Humphrey said...

Do great minds run in the same channels? On Wednesday, just four days ago, I posted to my weekly blog. The subject? Endings. see http://phyllishumphrey.blogspot.com. Here's my chapter ending entry:
"The entire apron and dress opened. Beneath, on the cloth body of the doll, more clumsy stitches showed and she tore those too, until Amy's back opened and her stuffing oozed forward. Sabrina probed inside, widening the opening. Something hard met her fingertips. She turned Amy upside down and the something dropped into her lap: an ornate jeweled necklace.

October 12, 2014 at 3:23 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

As I say above, winners can choose any of my other books if you have HOW TO BE A WRITER.

October 12, 2014 at 3:39 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Julie--Gone, Girl is a great book to study for how to build suspense and the masterful use of the unreliable narrator!

October 12, 2014 at 3:41 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Phyllis--Great post over on your blog. I love the Mickey Spillane quote about how your last line has to sell your next book. That's true now more than ever! Thanks for the entry!

October 12, 2014 at 3:46 PM  
OpenID paulfahey said...

Hi, Jessica, some things I'd never thought of. I like your three point checklist and plan to give it a try. I already have Anne and Catherine's book so please don't enter me in the contest. I just submitted my last novella--Getting Gertie Out--about LGBT patient abuse in a rest home, to my publisher. Here's the ending of my first chapter titled: Killing Bernadette."
A little explanation needed first. Bernadette is the 16 year old narrator's mother.
The young girl is speaking first.

“Ms. Andrews, the administrator. She said I’d be dealing mostly with people using walkers and in wheelchairs, the ones who can barely get up and move around but somehow manage. They probably won’t even know I’m there.”
“See,” she said.”
“See what?” I grabbed my purse and car keys and headed down the hall to the door.
“The respect part. That’s what’s missing,” she yelled after me.
I think some day I will kill that woman.
****

October 12, 2014 at 3:53 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Paul--Great entry! If you win, you can choose any of my other books.

October 12, 2014 at 3:57 PM  
Blogger CS Perryess said...

A fine post. Anne, in the comments you mention that at first you wanted to end chapters by wrapping things up - I must say you've come a long way. Your chapter endings are now fabu.

October 12, 2014 at 4:04 PM  
Blogger Eileen Goudge said...

Good stuff, Anne. Wise is the author who see the value in brevity and hinting at what to come. I learned that trick writing for the YA market. It's how to get a kid hooked on reading. With assigned reading they'll put a bookmark at the end of a chapter. By ending each chapter with a cliffhanger, they have to keep turning the pages. Same rule applies to adult fiction. We're all just big kids at heart, let's face it.

October 12, 2014 at 4:56 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

CS--You should have seen the first version of The Best Revenge! The final chapter went on for days... We learn these things eventually. :-)

October 12, 2014 at 4:58 PM  
OpenID paulfahey said...

Oh, super. Thanks, Anne.

October 12, 2014 at 5:01 PM  
Blogger Tori Minard said...

I'm afraid I'm not familiar with any of the books in your contest. :( Thanks to Jessica, though, for the great tips! Cliffhangers are so important. Someone above mentioned the Mickey Spillane quote about the ending selling your next book, and I know as a reader that it's so true for me. I've given up on writers because I couldn't stand their endings (usually because I thought the resolution wasn't strong enough). OTOH, those writers who give me strong endings with lots of resolution (I read a lot of romance, and I really want to that HEA) get a lot of reader loyalty from me.

Here's the last bit of my first chapter of my WIP:
I had no reason to be any more careful than I ever was. No reason at all. The prickling at the back of my neck was probably just telling me I needed to turn up my AC.

October 12, 2014 at 5:56 PM  
Blogger Tori Minard said...

Hmm. Okay, I meant to say "I really want to see that HEA". Somehow the see got lost. ;p

October 12, 2014 at 5:57 PM  
Blogger florence cronin said...

Anne, as always your guests do the most wonderful posts. Thanks to you both. I don't think I can do part one. And for part two ???

Okay ... each chapter contains the on-going story of three women ... thus chapter one through whatever are split between Brina, Camilla, and Sydney.

I am sure this will not qualify for the contest, but it's fun anyway. I give you the ending of each of my gals in Chapter One:

BRINA:

Being jobless and in full possession of my faculties meant providence was handing me the chance to start over, and like the New York Giants football team, I thought I might do better during the second half.
================================
CAMILLA:

I stayed awake until I could no longer lift my lids. As I slipped into unconsciousness, I thought I heard my grandmother calling to me, "Ah, mija. Why do you run so fast?"
=====================================
SYDNEY:

That’s the ticket Sydney, keep smiling.

My vow. Do you, Sydney Elizabeth Douglas, take this man, Kevin Thomas Church to be your lawfully married husband?

My promise. Do you promise to love him and keep him all the days of your life?

My fate. 'Til death do you part?

October 12, 2014 at 6:03 PM  
Blogger Rosi said...

Another great post. Thanks.

October 12, 2014 at 6:36 PM  
Blogger dolorah said...

Awesome advice; thanks Jessica and Anne.

October 12, 2014 at 8:27 PM  
Blogger Robyn Lee said...

Thank you for that great advice!

October 12, 2014 at 8:41 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Eileen--Thanks so much for the lovely mention you gave us in Publisher's Weekly! We are looking forward to your visit to us in December!

October 12, 2014 at 9:14 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Tori--Thanks for your entry!

This is s general comment--not just for Tori, but I have to admit I'm surprised at how few commenters have read today's top-selling writers. I purposely chose very, very big names. Gillian Flynn's Gone, Girl is the biggest book in the world right now because of the film. I don't love Patterson, but I've certainly read him, and I adore Kate Atkinson and Catherine Ryan Hyde. And Dan Brown sure knows how to write a page-turning yarn.

Writers need to read. Not just classics, but what's selling now. I realize I should have included a romance, so I'm at fault there, but I'm surprised so few writers read the books that are setting the bar right now. We should be reading them for research, if nothing else. Part of our job description.

October 12, 2014 at 9:41 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Tori--You're right that a romance has to have an HEA. Otherwise it's not a a romance novel.

October 12, 2014 at 9:42 PM  
Blogger Jessica Bell said...

Absolutely! But I think what beginners struggle to grasp is that the cliff doesn't need to be so deadly. Small emotional cliffhangers work too. In fact, I think they're necessary. You don't always want readers to be gasping at the end of every chapter. HA!

October 12, 2014 at 11:38 PM  
Blogger Jessica Bell said...

Thanks, Carol!

October 12, 2014 at 11:38 PM  
Blogger Jessica Bell said...

It is, isn't it! I find that rather strange, since it is one of the KEY factors to keep readers up at night.

October 12, 2014 at 11:39 PM  
Blogger Jessica Bell said...

Thanks for sharing your chapter ending, Jbiggar. Glad you enjoyed the post. And don't worry about the name mix-up. I get called Ruth all time. ;)

October 12, 2014 at 11:40 PM  
Blogger Jessica Bell said...

Thanks for reading, Debra. Yes, as a writer of both nonfic and fiction, I know exactly that feeling. In order to cope, I'm usually working on one nonfic book, and one fiction book, at the same time. The nonfic becomes my "work" and the fiction becomes my "pleasure."

October 12, 2014 at 11:42 PM  
Blogger Jessica Bell said...

Thanks for stopping by and entering the contest, Susie.

October 12, 2014 at 11:43 PM  
Blogger Jessica Bell said...

Thanks for reading, Suzanne, I'm glad you enjoyed it. I used to be exactly the same as you and Anne. We live and learn!

October 12, 2014 at 11:44 PM  
Blogger Jessica Bell said...

Thanks for stopping by, Barry. Great ending!

October 12, 2014 at 11:45 PM  
Blogger Jessica Bell said...

Thanks, Julie! Yes, brilliant book! Have you seen the film? Equally as brilliant. Probably has something to do with the fact that Gillian wrote the screenplay. Loved it.

October 12, 2014 at 11:46 PM  
Blogger Jessica Bell said...

Thanks for stopping by and entering the contest, Phyllis.

October 12, 2014 at 11:47 PM  
Blogger Jessica Bell said...

Hi Paul. Thanks for reading and for sharing your ending. Fabulous. And, yes, as Anne said, there are plenty of goodies to go around.

October 12, 2014 at 11:49 PM  
Blogger Jessica Bell said...

Thanks for dropping by, CS, glad you enjoyed the post.

October 12, 2014 at 11:49 PM  
Blogger Jessica Bell said...

Thanks for reading, Eileen! Glad you enjoyed it.

October 12, 2014 at 11:50 PM  
Blogger Jessica Bell said...

Hi Tori, thanks for reading and entering the contest. I'm glad you enjoyed the post! I also ditto what Anne says above. :-)

October 12, 2014 at 11:52 PM  
Blogger Jessica Bell said...

Thanks for stopping by, Florence. Glad you enjoyed the post! Good luck in the contest.

October 12, 2014 at 11:54 PM  
Blogger Jessica Bell said...

Thanks, Rosi. Glad you enjoyed it.

October 12, 2014 at 11:54 PM  
Blogger Jessica Bell said...

Thanks, Dolorah!

October 12, 2014 at 11:54 PM  
Blogger Jessica Bell said...

Thanks for reading, Robyn. :)

October 12, 2014 at 11:55 PM  
Blogger L. Diane Wolfe said...

It's tempting - and easy - to end on a natural break. But if it's a good breaking point, then the reader will stop right there.

And I haven't read any of those books.

October 13, 2014 at 8:46 AM  
Blogger A Beer For The Shower said...

Some great advice here. I'd like to think we're pretty good at ending on something interesting - not just a natural break. Now for us, since we write comedy, I often like to end a chapter with a really strong punchline. Something that brings the scene together and makes you laugh, or maybe turns the scene on its head and reveals something silly about the scene that was initially meant to mislead you.

October 13, 2014 at 10:45 AM  
Blogger Maria D'Marco said...

Hello Anne & Jessica-
Thanks for the focus on endings. Have zapped off to current author clients to support my rag/nag about openings and transitions, which fall under endings in my world.

This has been particularly tough to emphasize to new or first-book authors - as one responder mentioned earlier - the struggle against wrapping everything up tight (like the overfull garbage bag) is pretty overwhelming. I try to explain that a good ending can give the appearance of neat-and-tidy, but then can, in the final sentence, rip the whole thing to shreds (bag explosion). The reader is left staring at the remains of their carefully ordered and contained presumptions scattered on the ground all stinky and oozing. :D

Anne, thanks for inviting Jessica to come play with us! And adding a fun contest to boot! Woot!

October 13, 2014 at 12:37 PM  
Blogger R. A. Meenan said...

Out of all the crazy things I've struggled with as a writer, chapter endings are probably one of my greater strengths. Cliffhangers FTW!

Though 40 words is somewhat limiting especially since your sample is 92 words. o_o Oh well.

Chapter one ending sample:

Something wet smashed into Izzy’s eye and she wiped it away. A sticky black liquid clung to her fur.
But she had no time to examine it. The island grew larger in their plane’s window. “Hold on!” Matt shouted.
Then everything went black.

October 13, 2014 at 7:58 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Diane--Right. We don't want the reader to stop when we do. :-)

October 13, 2014 at 9:19 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Beer--I write comedy too, so I do like to end with a punchline. But sometimes it's better to use the last line as a set-up and give the punchline in the next chapter. You don't want to do that all the time, though.

October 13, 2014 at 9:20 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Maria--As an editor, you're probably telling this to writers all the time. And I imagine some fight you on it. My first editor kept telling me that "tying things up with a bow" did not work, but I sure loved those bows! He was very patient.

Jessica is a long time Internet friend. Too bad we're on opposite timetables for commenting on the blog.

October 13, 2014 at 9:23 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

R. A. Thanks for the entry. It's great! I had to limit the word count--the same as what I used for the samples for the contest--because I didn't want to take too much of Catherine Ryan Hyde's time. We're very lucky to have one of the bestselling authors in the world to judge the contest.

October 13, 2014 at 9:27 PM  
Blogger Jessica Bell said...

It's hard to get out of the habit of doing that, but once you do, it becomes second nature.

October 14, 2014 at 6:16 AM  
Blogger Jessica Bell said...

Bryan and Brandon, you're so right when you say that it should turn something on its head. Thanks for dropping by!

October 14, 2014 at 6:18 AM  
Blogger Jessica Bell said...

Thanks for reading, Maria! Yeah, my time zone does not seem to work in my favour ...

October 14, 2014 at 6:19 AM  
Blogger Jessica Bell said...

Thanks for participating! Great entry!

October 14, 2014 at 6:20 AM  
Blogger S.P. Bowers said...

Thanks for this. I have a hard time knowing when to end chapters.

I don't have a clue on the questions. Haven't read any of them. But what a fun idea for a contest!

October 14, 2014 at 10:23 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

S.P. Jessica's advice sounds simple, but it really can turn a ho-hum book into a page turner.

I thought it was a good idea for a contest, but we only had one entry to the first part. Writers don't read as much as I thought they did. Sigh.

October 17, 2014 at 10:28 AM  
Blogger G. B. Miller said...

I will do #2 because I haven't read the bestsellers listed in #1. By the way, my first one was a good page turner and in fact, I've had a few people ask if I was going to write a sequel.

Anywho, here is the last 40 words of a WIP short story that I'm re-writing called Rain. Because this is a G-to-PG rated blog, the excerpt will be so too.

"At that precise moment, Sandra stuck the needle deep within the base of the man's erection. The man strained mightily against the gag for several seconds, before rolling his eyes into his head and passing out."


Father Nature's Corner

October 19, 2014 at 2:17 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

GB--Oh, my. That is a page turner. Unfortunately, this is last week's post, so the contest is over. Scroll up a little and you'll see this week's post on our robot overlords. I'll bet "Father Nature" will have something to say about them.

October 19, 2014 at 2:54 PM  
Blogger Kim Cano said...

This was a helpful post. I really want to win Catherine's book, so I'm posting the last sentence of both my women's fiction novels to double my odds. :)

A Widow Redefined: Then, as we began descending back into the dark cavern of the wave, the boat tipped over, and I woke up, choking.

On The Inside: After lights out the sound of Kristen's anguished cries filled the quiet prison, a deep, guttural wail from the depths of her very being.

November 5, 2014 at 3:32 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Kim--Thanks so much for commenting. Great entries! Unfortunately this is an old post and the contest closed on October 16th, so the judging is over and the winner has already got her prize. But HOW TO BE A WRITER IN THE E-AGE is only $3.99 right now for Kindle. The link is in the sidebar. Catherine and I both offer lots of tips for navigating the sometimes treacherous waters of today's publishing business.

November 5, 2014 at 3:48 PM  
Blogger Kim Cano said...

Guess I didn't see that part. Where's my glasses? :)

I will buy the book now.

November 5, 2014 at 4:59 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Kim--You're not the only one! :-) Thanks for entering. Great endings!

November 5, 2014 at 5:58 PM  
Blogger Eileen Goudge said...

Great advice, as always! The trick is to make all your hard work look easy. A common rookie mistake is to show off with what I call verbal gymnastics. As Ken Follett once said, "The reader should be looking at the view through the window, not the windowpane."

November 13, 2014 at 3:38 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Eileen--I so much agree about "verbal gymnastics". In my post about what "red-flags" a newbie, I call it "show-offy writing" Anything that says "Mommy, Mommy, look at me" is not mature writing.

November 13, 2014 at 10:35 AM  

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