Maverick Moses

Writing Chapter Hooks and Ends: Outlining 101

Hi, Y’all. Welcome back to #WritingWednesdays!

Today I’ll be covering part three of my Outlining 101 series.

As a quick review, Part 1 covered How to Brainstorm and Part 2 covered How to Write a Plot Line, so be sure to check them out if you haven’t already.

This third part isn’t a crucial step in the outlining process, but in my experience, it does make writing the book much easier in the long run. It can be done now, or even at the very end of your entire outline, but I placed it as Part 3 because that’s the next step in my own outlining process.

Just a heads up, this won’t be a list of specific steps to take, but instead, it’ll be more a discussion about a concept that many of you probably don’t know about.

So you have an awesome book idea, an idea of what direction you want to go in and the main points and scenes you want to have. Now it’s time to start getting in depth with the chapters, but you’re having a hard time figuring out how to even start each chapter. You know that you need a good hook, especially at the very beginning of the book, but have a hard time writing it.

Maybe you’ve been told to skip the opening hook and go right into the meat of the story, but you’re like me, and thousands of other writers out there who can’t ever seem to skip an entire section because your writers OCD brain has to do things in order. And because you can’t figure out the hook, you never even start writing and all of that time outlining was for nothing.

To prevent that from happening, I recommend you now write each chapter’s hook and end. You’ll get the idea of the breakdown of chapters from the little climaxes I covered in my How to Write a Plot Line post.

When writing chapter hooks, what you’ll do is write the first and last sentence of each chapter.

You want every chapter to lead into the next.

Each chapter should start with an enticing hook and end with a compelling end.

Both hooks and ends serve one main purpose: to motivate the reader to keep reading.

Here are some ideas for a good chapter hook:

  1. Start with a quote, aka, dialogue
  2. Depict a setting with words that invoke specific senses, like sight, smell, touch, or hearing
  3. Start with a dramatic outcry or bang

These are just a few ideas to get your writing juices going.

When writing hooks, make sure that you keep in mind how the previous chapter ended so that it is a logical next scene.

Typically readers will wait until the end of the chapter they are on before putting the book down and doing something else. But you don’t want them to put the book down. So to fight that urge, you want to end each chapter with an exciting end that will lead to the next chapter. These ends are basically cliffhangers.

Remember those little climaxes from part two? You’ll typically want to place those climactic scenes in the overlapping space between two chapters. So you’ll build up the scene with your little rise in the chapter and lead into that little climax. But, right as the little climax is getting to a crucial point in the scene, you end the chapter. This will leave your reader hanging and motivate them to read that next chapter to see what happens.

In that next chapter, they’ll not only see the little climax but also the result, aka the falling action. This falling action will then lead into the next rising action and the process repeats.

So go to your outline and before you get in depth with each chapter, which by the way is part four of my Outlining 101 series, go in and write a one-sentence hook and one-sentence end for each chapter. Writing chapter hooks and ends will make outlining each chapter in detail much easier and make it easier for you when you actually start writing the book.

I’d love to hear any other cool ideas for chapter hooks, so be sure to Tweet me them or leave them down in the comments below and help some other writers in the process. 

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