End on a High Note


*random squirrel as example of something unexpected
How you end your work counts as much as how you start the work. Your story's first impression (including the hook) determines whether or not the reader will continue past page one. The last impression determines whether or not they'll buy more of your work.

A good hook isn't enough to drive interest in this publishing industry, where there is more competition to be published and less money and fewer resources to spread around.

Polish Your Endings

Your “endings” (the end of sentences, paragraphs, chapters, Acts, and books) are giving agents and editors and readers a “flavor” for how you’ll end your book. This is important because it helps them see whether or not your work, on a scene-to-scene and chapter-to-chapter level, can:
1)  establish and grow reader interest/caring for the main characters (hero/heroine);
2) maintain tension and suspense (of what will happen, not necessarily danger);
3)  increase dread of the protagonist/villain; and
4)  develop a plot and layer subplots to convey a story ride that will lead to an eventually satisfying conclusion, whether it’s an HEA (happily ever after) or not.

Avoid Boring Wrap-ups

As an editor, even I can get bored. When a piece starts with a bang and goes out with a whimper, I immediately want to set the work down. In fact, there are times I’ll edit a chapter that’s really juicy only to get to the end and find that the writer “left” the scene or chapter on a dull note. That’s how your readers will respond, too, and that’s what you want to avoid. 

So your challenge is to keep momentum going, to create bridges from one moment to the next, from one scene to the next, even when you are leapfrogging a story line three scenes down the line. Easier said than done, right?

Leave 'Em Guessing

Leaving your reader with the anticipation of “what happens next?” is one of the most powerful things you can do in your work, and if affects plot, character development and the power of your story theme.

To excite the reader enough to turn the page from one chapter to the next is stereotyped as a genre device. Most folks, in movies and book publishing, call these moments between chapters or scene or Acts “cliff hangers” and, yes, they are just as necessary in literary fiction, memoir and non-fiction works as they are in genre fiction.

Cliffhangers also occur between books in a series or between movies, such as Harry Potter and Twilight, which both concluded the immediate book's plot (who wins the battles) while letting larger issues (who wins the overall war) roll to the next book in the series.

What writers forget to consider are the spaces between paragraphs, or even between scenes within a chapter. These are the micro moments that keep your reader reading. Each one of those endings can use mini cliffhangers to drive momentum or at least end when the energy is still high.

So don't forget to polish your endings and leave your readers on an uptick of energy. Or at least give them something unexpected!

Good luck, my little angels.
Your Editor Devil