Saturday, 10 April 2010

Hooks & Cliffhangers--Kurt Chambers

Is there a secret to writing the ultimate page turner? I'm sure there are many aspects to a novel that bring it into the 'page turner' status, but today I'm going to talk about one of these aspects that, in my humble opinion, is one of the most important. Hooks and cliffhangers are wonderful things and one of the keys to a great novel. If you want your novel to be a real 'page turner' then this is one technique you should try to master.


A hook is something that will capture your reader's attention right from the start of the chapter. Every chapter you write should start with a good hook. This is not something you should use for just your first chapter. Many authors use this method, and normally they reserve their best efforts to the opening chapter of their novel. Having a good hook to draw your reader into the story is a very effective method and something you should use from the start of your book all the way through to the end.

Hooks can come in many forms, depending on what type of story you are writing. Instead of me trying to explain the mechanics of them, let me give you an example of how I use a hook to open a chapter. This is from my new novel, Unknown Reality, which I'm still in the process of writing at the moment. It's a middle grade novel with a mix of fantasy and sci-fi. Please bear in mind that this is a first draft and hasn't been through the editing process yet, so please ignore any mistake you may find. I'm just using this as an example.


Chloe held her breath as the scene before her began to clear. She had never seen anything so spectacular in her whole life. A blanket of stars shone in a pitch-black sky, and a creepy, gray light cast long shadows against the rolling mist that hung just above the ground. When hush spread through the crowd, she could sense the expectation hanging in the air. Chloe craned her neck and fixed her gaze between two large boulders, waiting to see who would appear. The moment lasted forever.

A booming clap of thunder broke the silence. The ground beneath them rumbled with the force of the sound.

Chloe gasped along with everyone else. She squeezed her hands between her knees and let out a giggle despite herself. This was far greater than anything she had expected.

Then from out of the mist, he drifted into view. Dressed all in black, he almost blended into the background. He swept back his greasy hair in an over-exaggerated gesture of defiance.

The crowd reacted immediately and exploded in a barrage of boos and hisses. Chloe joined them, screaming at the top of her voice and shaking her fist.

He ignored their assault with a simple wave of his hand. The crowd fell silent when he spoke, and Chloe swore he held a magical spell over them.

She relaxed and unclenched her fists. This would be the final battle, but she already knew what the outcome would be. The baddie never wins, that’s just the way it is. She glanced at her mum seated next to her. “Bringing me to the theatre was the best birthday present I’ve ever had.”



Now let's talk about cliffhangers. When you end a chapter, there is only one way to do it. Leave the reader wanting more. Leave them on the edge of their seat so they have absolutely no choice but to read the next chapter immediately! Again, you should apply this method to every chapter if you can. Trust me, the reader will never get bored with it. It will drive them on through your novel and leave them never wanting to put it down.

Again, I will use an example from the same chapter of Unknown Reality to show how I use cliffhangers to end a chapter. Please ignore anything that is politically incorrect; first draft, remember!


Memories of his words came flooding back. Chloe shuddered. “I’m going to bed, Mum,” she said, and kissed her on the cheek. “I can barely keep my eyes open.” She forced herself to her feet.

Mum smiled. “Goodnight, darling. I’m glad you enjoyed yourself tonight.”

Chloe wandered to her room and got ready for bed. She lay her head on the pillow and stared at the pink, fluffy dream catcher suspended just above the pine headboard. “What a weird day,” she mumbled to herself as she recalled what the man had said to her. You have the power to control the universe? She huffed. Whatever. She leaned over to get the glass of water from her bedside cabinet, but realised she’d left it on the windowsill. Oh, I can’t be bothered to get up again. With an outstretched hand, she wished she had the power to will the drink next to her.

The glass slid two inches closer along the sill.

She let out a scream.


So, that is the end of my lesson. I hope some of you will find this useful, and more importantly, I hope it inspires you to use hooks and cliffhangers to turn your novels into the ultimate 'page turners'.

If you think this is the kind of story you would like to read, here is where you can pick up a copy...

Unknown Reality Links

To Reviewers:

If you are interested in reviewing this story and posting your review on Amazon for me I will offer a free eBook in a format of your choice. Please contact me via authortruthteller (at) googlemail (dot) com and put 'UR Review' in the subject line.

And don't forget! 

I still have two other popular fantasy novels for your pleasure and book one in the series is free in all good book stores. If you like my stories, could I please ask you to leave a review on Amazon for me. Reviews for us indie authors are very important in attracting other readers.



  1. You have made many good points. Much food for thought.

    It is, however, easier said than done - in my case. But, as a reader I fully understand the significance of a page turner. It's what all us writers aspire too is it not....

    Think I may have to go back and reread the end of each of my chapters. It may take a while....

    Very good post :)

  2. :) Thank you, Wendy. I hope I haven't caused you too much

  3. Hello Kurt!

    I really enjoyed this post. Great writing! My sister gets mad at me for leaving a cliffhanger at the end of every chapter because she can't put my book down. It tickles me and I laugh with joy.

    Thank you for following my blog!! Have a great week. :)

  4. Hi Elizabeth,

    It's awesome to see you here on my blog. Thank you so much for visiting :) and thanks for your kind words.

    Cliffhangers rock! Tell your sister to stop moaning and read some more haha!!

  5. great, great points!! i love that you took the time to write this all out and share it with the blogosphere. we need more blogs like yours!!

    best of luck with everything!!

  6. Hi Tahereh, thank you so much for stopping by my blog, much appreciated. And thank you for your kind words :)