historical fiction books | historical romance books

End with the Beginning in Mind…

By Mari Christie
January 25, 2022

So, as it happens, this week, we are preparing for the Paper Lantern Writers to attend the The History Quill Writers Convention 2022*, and the panel I am on is End With the Beginning in Mind: Hooking Readers With Your Chapter Endings. I have to admit to a bit of trepidation at this topic, as endings are—by far—my most difficult things to write; I much prefer beginnings. Endings of books have been known to take me weeks and months to get right.

But, I had to remind myself, that was the endings to entire books, not just chapters. Surely I could discuss the ends of chapters for ten minutes or so, given enough time to prepare… Then, huzzah! I was assigned to my favorite type of chapter ending: the Mic Drop. This made all the difference!

What I love about the Mic Drop ending is it is LOUD. It reverberates and echoes. It is the exclamation point of endings! “Luke, I am your father!” (I like exclamation points, you might have guessed…)

I’m not going to get any further into my discussion of Mic Drop endings, because I have to save it for the convention… But, as part of our preparation, you might guess, I have been reading a lot of chapter endings in a lot of different books (not all historical fiction), and many good ones didn’t make it into the presentation, so I thought I would drop a few here:

She jerked Prissy to her feet and sent her kitchenwards with a shove. Then she squared her shoulders and started up the stairs. It was going to be difficult, telling Melanie that she and Prissy were to deliver her baby.

Mitchell, Margaret. Gone with the Wind (p. 366). Scribner. Kindle Edition.

But if Daemon had to be executed to protect Jaenelle, it wouldn’t be a stranger’s hand that put him in his grave.

He owed his son that much.

Bishop, Anne. Daughter of the Blood (Black Jewels, Book 1) (p. 72). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Scarlett tried to scrabble to her feet. Oh, sweet Mary, Mother of God, I’m so weak. Her hands found the bedpost. Slowly she pulled herself upright. She was as white as a ghost, her green eyes blazed like cold flames.

“I’m going to Rhett,” she said.

Rosemary struck her then. Not with her hands or even her fists. Scarlett could have withstood that.

“He doesn’t want you,” Rosemary said quietly. “He told me so.”

Ripley, Alexandra. Scarlett (p. 248). Grand Central Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Only a brother or a father or a husband had the right to fight for a lady. In challenging the Tennessean, he had announced that he was Lavinia’s protector and had assumed the role of a husband. He was bound by the code of honor to marry her.

If he wasn’t killed. Pinckney knew, even if his mother did not, the reputation of the sharpshooting Tennessee mountain men.

Ripley, Alexandra. Charleston (p. 36). Warner Books.

To see which endings made it into the presentation, sign up for The History Quill Writers Convention 2022*.

End with the Beginning in Mind: hooking readers with your chapter endings

By The Paper Lantern Writers

Every storyteller knows to start their book with a hook, but great storytellers know that the true hooks come at the end of the chapters. A brilliant end to every scene and chapter, a hook that opens the door to the next beginning, keeps readers turning page after page. Using plenty of examples and the chance to discuss the hooks in your own novel, this panel from the Paper Lantern Writers will discuss finding the right hook, setting the scene for a strong chapter ending and the power (and pitfalls) of cliff-hangers. In short, the best ways to keep readers engrossed in your book from start to finish.

Mari Christie
Written by Mari Christie

Mari Anne Christie writes second chances for scarred souls. Her book, Blind Tribute, is a multi-award winner in American historical fiction, and she writes historical romance as Mariana Gabrielle. She lives in Denver, Colorado with her two cats.

View Mari’s PLW Profile

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