How to be a Hooker!

Well, hello perverts!

Sorry to disappoint, this is a post for authors about exciting beginnings and endings. And don’t blame me for the provocative heading – it was fellow children’s author Meredith Costain’s title for her talk at the Children’s and Young Adult writer’s conference.

Here's Meredith with some furry companions

Here’s Meredith with some furry companions

And yes, you can probably tell by the multiple posts that I got a huge amount out of the conference and am also assisting my pea-sized memory by recording it all here. But I digress.

How to be a hooker? Did you realise that it’s almost as important to have catchy chapter endings as it is beginnings. Of course it is – we all want to be one of those authors who keeps kids (or adults) up with a torch under the doona desperate to know what happens next. So first up Great Openings – Meredith polled some publisher friends who said this was what got them in:

  • A distinctive, confident voice
  • A clear sense of character and setting
  • Do I like the characters? Do I want to know what comes next?
  • An exciting situation that draws you in

What doesn’t work?

  • Too much telling and not enough showing
  • Information dumps – long descriptions of settings or what people look like
  • tongue-twisting sentences crammed with adjectives and adverbs
  • all action followed by all exposition – you need to integrate these bedfellows

Meredith advised breaking your plot into scenes and creating hooks that will lead readers from scene to scene.

“End your chapters with more questions rather than a conclusion,” she said. “Keep the tension up. Don’t make it too easy for your characters to solve their problems. End with a cliffhanger – where your reader has to turn the page to find out what’s happened next.” fridaybarnes_front-cover

I just finished reading the excellent middle grade novel Friday Barnes – Girl Detective. The mystery genre really loans itself to these cliffhanger style ends for chapters. And I think you’ll forgive me readers, if I tell you that the Friday Barnes book ends with Friday being arrested – of course, you need to read Book Two to find out what happens. Now that’s clever!

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2 thoughts on “How to be a Hooker!

  1. theeferret86 says:

    “…we all want to be one of those authors who keeps kids (or adults) up with a torch under the doona desperate to know what happens next…”

    Does this mean I’m allowed to do this? Pleeeaaasseee‽

    Like

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