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The Ending Hook

What makes a book a page-turner? What attributes keep the reader awake until the wee hour of the morning without ever having slept a wink?

I suppose you could argue that many things factor into this phenomenon. But one of the single most important elements, in my humble opinion, is the Ending Hook.

And what is the Ending Hook exactly?

Simply put: it's one or two sentences at the end of a scene or chapter that entices the reader to keep on keepin' on... reading, that is.

And the easiest way to do this is by leaving them with a question. Preferably, a burning, all-consuming question.

Thrillers do this quite effectively by concluding chapters on a cliffhanger.

In romance, you don't necessarily want to exhaust the reader with huge surprises around every corner, but you don't want to give them everything all neatly wrapped up with a pink bow, either.

So, how about some examples?

Let's take a look at the scene break in Chapter 3 of The Clause in Christmas.

At least Cassie could think of one perk of being stuck in Poppy Creek. Derek Price would never find her here.

If you remember, at this point in the story, we've never heard of Derek Price before. And we have no idea why Cassie doesn't want him to find her.

It's important not to give too much away... only a hint. Now, with this tidbit of new information, the reader is itching to find out who Derek is and what he's done to Cassie.

Here's another example that occurs at the end of Chapter 7 in Luke's POV (point of view).

That's when Luke saw it. The mistletoe hanging directly above their heads.

Okay, so this is a pretty big tease. We all know what typically happens under mistletoe, right? So, will Luke and Cassie finally have their first kiss? Well, we'll have to turn the page to find out...

In romance, we have the luxury of utilizing the Ending Hook tool with both plot (as in the mistletoe example) and with character. Specifically, character emotion. While slightly less powerful, it can still carry a reader into the next scene or chapter.

Here's an example from Luke's POV at the end of Chapter 10:

And tonight, more than ever, it would be nearly impossible to keep his growing feelings at bay.

While no new information is introduced, and it's not a cliffhanger, we do want to find out if Luke is able to keep his feelings in check or if he acts on them.

To sum up: we're leaving the reader with a question.

And that's the secret to the Ending Hook.

Now, go and try it in your own WIP.

Happy Writing!

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