How to End a Chapter/ Scene

Each chapter has a beginning-middle-end, and a focused purpose. A purpose that you as the author should be able to state clearly.

I recently wrote a post, Five Ways to Start a Chapter/Scene but now I will be looking at how to end a chapter/ scene.

There is a natural flow of a chapter, as a reader, you know this instinctively. You can feel when the chapter is about to be over. The chapter begins with an action or forward motion of some kind. Then the action or tension increases, then something is accomplished or resolved—and then something new begins.

But how do you end it in a way that’s compelling and irresistible to continue reading?

I think chapters should come to a full circle but I think the new scene should be introduced before the previous chapter ends.

Chapters begin with a promise to the reader – an ending to a chapter can answer this promise or continue it through multiple chapters/ scenes. For example, your character needs to get to the top of a tower but an army rest at the bottom. The promise is reaching the tower and the obstacles can carry for multiple chapters/ scenes until your character fulfils their objective and the promise to the reader.

But how do you end it in a way that’s compelling and irresistible to continue reading?

Try These Nine Tips

1. Ask a question

You wouldn’t write it so obviously, but: Where have I seen that guy before? Who’s at the door? Why is the phone ringing? Is Sally is the murderer? And of course, you’re not going to begin to answer that until the next chapter.

2. Present a door

Not necessarily a real door–although that would work—will they walk through? But also a metaphorical door: a possibility, or idea, a change or an opportunity.

3. Present an obstacle

The “door” is locked. There’s a blackout. There’s a flat tire, or there’s a shadow of a scary person.

4. A decision must be made—huge or tiny

When your character has to make a decision, they have to DO something, right? And whatever that is won’t happen until the next chapter.

5. The realization of a mistake

The light dawns. I was wrong. Now what? Turn the page.

And to add to the dramatic irony: It can be a mistake the reader already knew or feared.

6. A disappointment

What your character thought would happen, or hoped would happen, didn’t happen. How will they handle that? Now what?

7. A “good plan” is formed

And what happens to good plans? They go awry.

8. An arrival or an entrance

Depending on POV, your character enters a new place. Or, someone else enters their sphere.

9. Big action

An ending to one part of the book and AND a beginning to the next. Big suspense or conflict. Something blows up. Someone gets hurt/killed/shot/kidnapped/tied up/ransomed/not ransomed/elected. Someone wins, fails, loses, disappears. A fight begins. A crash is threatened. A ticking clock.

 Do not make every chapter ending a cliffhanger, it can annoy the reader and steer them away from starting the new chapter.


How do you end your chapters/ scenes?

Post your comments and answers below. If you think someone has an interesting point of view and answer, please invite them or share this post with them.

#DWTSmith #promisetothereader

climbing tower.jpg

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