Thursday, January 23, 2014

Castle Time -- HOOKS!!

Oldie Pic for an Oldie Post!
Doing a repost for a few years ago.... but considering Castle is back on this month with all new episodes, I thought this super appropriate!

The only difference is---I'm more likely to catch Sherrinda on Facebook lately, vs. Twitter! (am I the only one using Twitter less?? Hmmm, maybe that's a topic for another post!)


I love watching Sherrinda's tweets on Monday night between (central time) 9 and 10.

Even if I'm not able to be watching Castle (perish the thought!) I can always feel the tension from her tweets.

Usually it's something like, "HOLY COW!! _________________ just happened! AHHHH!!!"

And it's usually during a commercial break.

I can just picture spunky Miss Sherrinda. jumping up and down on her couch, yelling at the TV, "HURRY UP, stupid commercial, who needs Covergirl Makeup or insurance or a dumb car at a time like this?"

Because there is something Castle always does an amazing job at.

It HOOKS you.

It makes you hate commercial breaks... And at the end of seasons... when the main character gets shot (seemingly) dead... (Or engaged to... or almost broken up...)

That's what we want for our books too.

We want to grab the reader's attention and make them hurry through potty breaks, eat with a book in their hand, and read until their eye's cross at 2 in the morning when they have to be up for work at 5.

When they get to the chapter end, you want to entice them to read "just one more chapter."

But how do we do that?

A few ideas:

Leave the reader on an inhale. I think about this every time I end a chapter. My goal is for the reader to take a sharp inhale of breath when they read the last sentence. Don't explain a thing. You build, build, build through the chapter, then KABLAM something happens and end of chapter.

Leave the reader with emotion. Leave the reader crying, or jumping for joy, or scared. We don't like to have unfulfilled emotions.

Leave the reader with a sense of foreboding. Even a subtle illusion to "something might be coming" is enough to perk the reader's interest enough to turn the page to see what that something might be.

Really, it boils down to one thing:

Leave the reader wanting more.

This applies not only to chapter ending hooks, but to our novel as a whole. Until the end, when we reach our satisfying conclusion, our readers should always be wanting more of our characters, more of the story.

Discussion: What are some methods you use to end your chapters? Some recommend to automatically chop the last paragraph off of your chapter ending... agree or disagree? Any examples of good chapter-ending hooks that you've read lately?

Krista is a follower of Jesus, a wife, a mother, and author of Sandwich, With a Side of Romance . She blogs about finding JOY in the journey of LIFE at She is represented by the fab agent, Rachelle Gardner.


Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

Bwahahahaha!!!! Yes, you can still find me on Facebook during Castle. I will say, I haven't been on as much this month because things have been hectic in the Ketchersid household, but I am on the couch yelling at the TV at times... :)

Castle is the best at hooks and tension and I just love it!

And I am never on twitter anymore. Why is that? I mean really? I think for me, I started getting more "marketing" tweets and follows and missed my "vibrating conversations" with friends. How about you? Why aren't you on as much?

Krista Phillips said...

Sherrinda, my thoughts mimick yours! That and quotes people share .... There just isn't the substance and human interaction there was when it was a fun new novelty.

Pepper said...

You two are so funny!
I'm a hit-and-miss Castle watcher, I'm afraid. It's fun when I have time to watch it, but my only die-hard shows are few and far between.

But I DO love chapter cliff-hangers/hooks. Oh my! I love the idea of leaving the reader 'on an inhale' :-)
But I'm not too sure about cutting off the last paragraph. I think a well-crafted hook is well enough without cutting off the paragraph.
I just finished editing a first chapter I'd recently written and love the hook for it, as it is - but...I'm not published yet, so what do I know ;-)

Here's the hook:

Her urgent command propelled him into motion. He didn’t know why he was running, or from what, whether it be some spirit or one of Doyle’s Baskerville hounds, but he ran as if his very life depended on it. From the look in Laurel’s eyes, it did.

Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

Well done, Pepper! You always have a way of leaving one "on an inhale". :)

Krista, we should tweet each other and ignore the rest. ha! Of course, everyone would want to be in our crazy conversations, but then that was the whole fun of twitter way back when.

Krista Phillips said...

We should hold a writer's alley twitter party!!!! BRING BACK THE LIFE to Twitter!!!!


Krista Phillips said...

Pepper, 30 lashes for not watching castle!


And NICE HOOK!!!!!! Well done, my sweet friend, well done!

Krista Phillips said...

Everyone else, feel free to share YOUR first chapter hook too!!! I'm off to a Dr appt for my littlest one, but I'll share mine upon my return!

Julia M. Reffner said...

I'm never on twitter either. I just feel like I have a hard time organizing the feeds and they come so fast I get kind of overwhelmed with the whole thing.

As for Castle, yes, best hooks on a TV show IMO. I love Sherrinda's tweets and she doesn't spoil just keeps the suspense going. :)

Julia M. Reffner said...

You gals got me hooked on Castle and that and Downton are the only shows I watch. But frankly I'm getting sick of Downton and Castle is still holding my attention. :)

Jeanne Takenaka said...

Great post, Krista. :)

Love the tips. And can I confess (as she hangs her head) I've never, even once, watched Castle? Please, don't throw tomatoes at me. :)

Krista Phillips said...

Okay... my chapter ending hook...

This is from a WIP called, "The Price of Love"

She and her dad had just rescued a stranger from a blizzard, but she hadn't seen his face.


When the soup was done, she inhaled the warm aroma, letting the steam from the broth thaw her insides the rest of the way. She ladled it into three bowls and set it on the table along with spoons and toast. As she grabbed for a TV tray in case the stranger wasn’t able to walk to the table, a throat cleared behind her.

She turned and the tray clattered to the floor.

In front of her stood a slightly blue-hued, over-sized flannel clad William Preston. The guy who, seven months ago, had stomped on her heart and left it to freeze to death by humiliating her in front of millions of people.

Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

Oh dear....Krista...I can just feel the tension! That's GREAT!

Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

JEANNE!!!! DUCK AND COVER!!!!!!! Tomatoes are coming your way, girl!

Not seen an episode of Castle?

That's like not having a cell phone.
...or a dishwasher
...or a washing machine.
...or underwear!!!!!!!!!!

Seriously, girl, you have got to watch! See if they have the DVD's at your library!

Krista Phillips said...

Not watching Castle is like not having underwear...

Wow. Sherrinda, I love you:-)

And Jeanne... it's getting a little breezy in here, you may want to watch you some Castle! *grin*

Jeanne Takenaka said...

Love you girls! :) I have everything on your list but Castle. :) I promise I'll try to watch it soon. :)

Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

Bwahahaha! "Breezy", indeed! Krista, I always love your play on words!

Jeanne, no pressure...well, maybe a little. It really is good!

Ashley Clark said...

Love this, Krista, and LOVE Castle! Jeanne, you have GOT to try it soon! But be sure you start with the old ones-- I think those are actually the best.

Casey said...

I LOVE Castle!! And like you said, it does the BEST job of hooks. The other show we've started watching is Person of Interest and they do a GREAT job of using those last three minutes that just make you want to keep watching...watching and not stop! The first disc of the first season, hadn't seen a peep of the show before and I watched all four shows in one night. Now that is some good writing! Time to take notes. Great post, Krista! Castle is ALWAYS worth a big shout out. :)

Rachelle O'Neil said...

Thanks for this post! It's given me some things to think about. I agree with Pepper; cutting off the last paragraph just doesn't make sense to me. Your hook is amazing, by the way, Pepper.

Every now and then, I feel a tad guilty for not giving my readers a resting place at the end of the chapter. But the feeling usually doesn't last long. That's what the beginning of the chapter is for, after all! :D By the way, do ya'll think it's possible to overuse traditional cliffhangers?

One of my favorite chapter endings from my WIP is the following. It's an incredibly symbolic ending, because Zana's favorite flower is a Golden Sahda, and the smell of them had made her think of home at the beginning of the chapter. It's a fantasy, so I apologize if it's a tad jarring without more context.

Then he closed the door and was gone. With shaky hands, she put the basket back and staggered to the bed.

What just happened?

She stared at the flowers. Next to Gavin’s gift, Belicostos’ looked chaotic and overbearing.

How did he know?

Gavin said the flower made him think of her.

“How could he have possibly known?” she whispered.

Gavin’s gift was a Golden Sahda.