Posted by: Kathy Temean | April 19, 2010

Chapter Endings & The Hunger Games

After hearing the buzz for over a year, I finally got to read The Hunger Game by Suzanne Collins.   I have to say, her book really does deserve all the buzz.  But the one thing that really impressed me was the way she managed to end each chapter.  

I would think, I’ll go to sleep when I finish this chapter and then it was impossible to not want to turn the page and keep reading.  You literally will not want to put down the book. 

This is not the easiest thing for a writer to accomplish and even the most recognized novels fall short in this area.  So if it is true that writers can learn by reading other authors books, you really should read this one.

Here are some ways you can choose to end your chapters that should get you audience to turn the page and start reading the next chapter.

  • Introduce something that makes the reader want to find out what it is. Example:  The character could find a box and takes off the lid.
  • The main character is faced with a conflict at the end of the chapter.
  • The main character vows to do something.
  • The chapter ends with a shocking event.
  • The main character figures out a new way to do things.  He or she has a new idea.
  • The chapter end with high emotion.
  • You can end the chapter with an unanswered question.
  • Introduce something that turns your story upside down.
  • End with an unanswered question.
  • Try using a mysterious line of dialogue.
  • End a chapter with a plot turning point.
  • Last week we talked about using metaphors.  You can use a ominous metaphor.  Something that will hint to the reader that something is going to happen.

Talk tomorrow.  Hope you found this helpful. If you have other suggestions on chapter ending, I’d love to hear them and I’m sure others would, too.

Kathy


Responses

  1. Collins is pretty incredible at leaving cliffhanger chapter endings. She left Catching Fire at an agonizing final ending. But it’s effective and thought producing, which is what we all want our writing to accomplish.

    • Heather,

      So have you read all three? Do you think they were all as good? I guess, I will have to pick up the second one. I really do want to find out what happens with the two boys.

      Kathy

  2. Good one! Whenever it is I return to my MG novel, I will be sure to revisit these.
    Tx for all you research, post, and do.
    Jeanne

    • Jeanne,

      Have you read Hunger Games? I know you are always reading. It’s a good book.

      Kathy

  3. I love when chapters end with a cliffhanger or tension! I strive to do that in my WIPs. Thanks for the tips!

    • Laura,

      I just started really paying attention to chapter endings. There definitely is a technique to doing them right.

      Kathy

  4. Found your list really helpful, thanks!

    Haven’t read THE HUNGER GAMES. Will rectify that. 🙂

    • Marisa,

      If you can remember, I would love to hear what you think after you finish reading Hunger Games. Glad you found some tidbits to help. Hope you stop back.

      Kathy

  5. I love this stuff, Kathy, and just the other day when browsing in the children’s dept. at B&N (as I do nearly every day), Suzanne’s books lined, face front, one of the top shelves and I was tempted to pick one up. I have SO many books I want to read and can’t read fast enough! lol I’m assuming The Hunger Games is the first of a series?

    Anyway, I find that anything that can be a “cliffhanger” is wonderful and is true with all genres. In picture books, I think the same way and am basically asking myself “Where do I put the ‘M dash’ that will make the fingertips irresistibly reach for the corner of the page?” I think writing is all about page turning. In fact, virtually all the words we write must have the effect of a “nudge in the back”, and yes, it DOES take a lot to accomplish it!
    Donna

    • Donna,

      I started reading The Hunger Games with a stack of books next to my bed. I am so glad I put it at the top of the stack. You should ask the library to get it for you. It won’t take you long to read it, because she really makes it a page turner.

      Kathy

      • Kathy,
        I’m in B&N right now and have gotten NO work done and I’ve been here since about 1:30 PM (it’s now 9!). Too many people I know have come in today, and I’ve also allowed myself some reading time. I picked up “The Hunger Games” and read into the 2nd chapter. I’m really enjoying it, but have to put it down because I’m still trying to finish “Harry, A History”! I have SO many books I want to read!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Donna,

        A whole afternoon and evening at B&N? Lucky you.

        Kathy

      • Yes, Kathy!

        I treasure the days I can spend there. For many years I couldn’t spend long hours outside the house (due to exposures), and the truth is that B&N isn’t “safe” for me in some ways, but the one near me is VERY big, has high ceilings and has good air circulation, so most of the time I can breathe well enough to stay. I know it sounds crazy, but the benefits of me spending time there, far outweigh the trade off for my health—not always, but most of the time. I’ve gotten a LOT of work done in that cafe! The lighting is perfect when I’m doing artwork! No strong shadows, nothing too close or harsh, but at the same time very bright. I’ve done all the sketches for my dummies at Barnes; the finished artwork I have to do at home.

        About 6 years ago (probably longer, can’t remember), I started going there to write ’cause I’m constantly distracted at home by everything here. It ended up being a “home away from home”, I know practically the whole staff, most of the regulars in the cafe, and there’s the running joke about me and my favorite table. Getting to know everyone can often backfire though, ’cause now the PEOPLE and conversation can often distract me, but oh, how I LOVE it there when it’s relatively quiet. I discovered I usually work better in that kind of atmosphere—not to say I never write at home when inspiration strikes! That’s when NOthing here can distract me, and OH, how I love that. Don’t you? 🙂
        Donna

  6. I’ve worked really hard at making my chapter endings vivid and vibrant and full of suspense to get the reader to scream in frustration. Since each chapter rotates to a different person, it should be rather frustrating! 🙂

    • Scott,

      Then I congratulate you. I find chapter ending the hardest part. Thanks for leaving a comment. Hope you’ll stop back.

      Kathy

  7. FANtastic post! Thanks for sharing some great insight – and offering up some really practical ways to keep the momentum going. Nice!

    • Zoe,

      Now all we have to do is find the right one to use for each chapter. My main character’s best friend is named Zoe. It’s a very popular name now. A friend of mine named her daughter Zoe back in the late 80’s and then everyone started jumping on the bandwagon.

      Kathy

  8. Thank you for this. It’s something I’ve struggled with consistently. I will definitely be keeping this article close by me at all times!

    Darcie

    • Darcie,

      I think most writers struggle with chapter endings, but I also think that is something more advance writers worry about. So you are on the right track.

      Kathy


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