Tag Archive | chapter ending

Chapter Endings and Cliff-Hangers

It’s been a while since I’ve written here. To do a brief catch-up, I am doing camp NaNoWriMo this month, and my novel is titled, for now, Three Ways to Death. It’s about an assassin person who is sent to retrieve a deadly weapon from inside the minds of three comatose people. (I know, it probably sounds like Inception, but I actually have more of Interstellar on my playlist)

I haven’t been very easily inspired to write here, and I especially like it when I can write about some curiosity in writing that I feel like talking about. And I have just run into one, and so I gladly took the chance to write here, sense I’ve been wanting to do another post, but I’ve been unable to come up with something to write that I would be interested in reading.

I was just finishing my first chapter (a bit later than I liked) at the point when my character was going to go into the shared mind of the three people. I came to an interesting dilemma of how to end the chapter. Actually it wasn’t a dilemma, because I had automatically wanted to end the chapter when he left the real world, and before he was going to enter the ‘dream’ world. However, here is where I could have easily ended the chapter:

“Are you all ready?”

“You tell me,” Anear said. He then suddenly asked, “What can I expect to find when I get there? Will I actually see and communicate with Proven, Kindle and Merrick?”

“I really don’t know. Alright, if you’re ready…” she started typing on a keyboard.

Anear clenched his jaw, and closed his eye, uncertain of what to expect.

“I’m switching you over,” she said, hesitantly.

Anear heard a final button pushed and then all reality seemed to change.

The chapter could have ended here, creating a nice finish in itself. You’re left wondering what ‘reality’ will change to and what will happen next.

However, after I’d considered ending the chapter here, I decided that it didn’t actually create the tension I wanted. For one thing, it is already technically known what’s going to happen next- there can’t be that many options when you go into a shared brain thing (speaking in science-fiction terms, of course). There was also the fact that it sounded too much like many of my other chapter endings. (also, being the writer, I knew there was a twist coming later on, when the chapter would begin as I planned)

So, I went ahead and continued the chapter, finishing with:

He had experienced such a thing once, a long time ago, when he was a kid and had fallen from his family home’s balcony. When he’d woken, for several minutes nothing had made any sense; he didn’t know who or where he was and the world didn’t seem real. It was like that, only it had occurred all at once.

What followed next was the world fell away, and a drowsiness came over him that was so powerful and unexpected that he gave into it immediately.

The blackness that came afterwards was of kind unlike even the deepest sleep. There was complete nothingness with no thought. It lasted to the point that Anear could’ve been dead.

Then Anear got past the blackness, and he found himself in a different place.

Now, I’m not actually sure if it creates the same tension the other ending would have had. Finishing with a statement that Anear was in a different place is a little obvious- after all, what else would you expect? But I feel that it doesn’t expect the reader to be amazed at the change. By adding this, I have got the reader past the ‘cliff-hanger’ and now on a comfortable ledge; I’ve gone further by introducing the fact that, at the very beginning of the next chapter, he will be elsewhere. And, though I haven’t said it, the blackness is compared to being deeper than sleep, practically death, and then Anear got somewhere beyond that deathlike nothingness.

The question is now, is beginning the chapter with:

He looked around, and saw that there was a vast, stormy sea around him. It seemed to be sunset, and the light was spreading all across the sky, great powerful clouds alight in orange, deep gray and pink that seemed almost to reach the sea.

– a disappointment, or is it a good disappointment, making the reader want to go on and understand what’s happening?