Friday, March 17, 2006

Hardy Boys Cliffhangers

aka chapter-ending hooks.

Are they essential?

Yes, they keep me turning pages, BUT if the hook turns out to be fake or easily/quickly resolved right away in the next chapter, then I'm annoyed.

I will keep turning the pages of a book without hooks if I like the book. I prefer that the chapters end cleanly so I can slip my bookmark in and know where to start up again.

Both of the judges from that contest told me I need chapter-ending hooks so I've been trying to end my chapters mid-scene, where the crisis is unresolved, but I don't like it. I think I am going to put it back the way it was.

Please tell me your opinion: Do you need hooks to keep reading the next chapter, or do you prefer clean chapter breaks?


Dodi said...

I don't really notice chapters much. It the book is good I keep reading. If the book is lousy I stop, regardless of chapter endings. I mostly use chapter endings to make myself stop reading, as in "I don't want to stop, but I have to go back to work. I'll just read to the end of this chapter."

That said, I can think of some authors I read who use chapter titles, and sometimes literary quotes, to add a layer of content or context to the story. I am thinking specifically of Connie Willis with To Say Nothing of the Dog. I thought it was really odd until I realized she was mimicing Three Men in a Boat, To Say Nothing of the Dog by Jerome K. Jerome. When I read the Jerome book I found all the devices she had borrowed in style. If I was more literate I would have already read Jerome's classic book and Willis' book would have tickled me even more.

Most of the books I read don't have chapter titles, just numbers. I don't think I notice chapter endings/beginnings unless there is a title or quote.

Anonymous said...

i like a chapter ending that makes me wonder what will happen next. but next in the narrative, not next because they did a page break in the current arc or sub-plot or whatever each scene in a book is called.

dorothy said...

I like a chapter ending, but the book needs to be good enough that I won't stop reading the whole book at the end of a chapter. There has to be some reason to divide the book into chapters.