Thursday, December 04, 2008

Waiting to Exhale

As I go write the early drafts of my books, I don't worry too much about chapter ends. I tend to look at the number of pages, and end a chapter at the end of a scene.

However, as I edit later drafts, I change that, because the end of a scene is often like a big sigh. Okay, got through that conflict/trauma/action. Now time for a little rest.

This is not what you want the reader thinking at the end of a chapter, because "time for a little rest" can mean putting the book down.

I want to end the scene with the reader thinking, "Oh, boy, what's gonna happen next????" An inhale, not an exhale, and the sort of inhale you take when the roller coaster is headed up the incline. Or, depending on your style and type of book you're writing, a sharp intake, like when you see a broken window at your house as you're pulling into the driveway.

Sometimes I do this with foreshadowing, such as "As she hurried away, she didn't see the man lurking in the shadows."

More often, though, I revise to end the chapter in the middle of a scene instead of the end.

Whatever method I use, though, I want to do all I can to make sure my reader isn't the least bit tempted to put the book down, not even to get a cup of tea.

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