What does this have to do with writing you ask? Weeeeeell, let me ask you a question. Are you the type of writer that obsesses over that first line and the first paragraph? Do you work hard at hooking your reader with kick-butt beginning? If you've ever entered a writing contest you've probably seen a question on the score sheet similar to this one: "Does the writer hook you or draw you right into the story?"
Many contests stress the need for a beginning hook, a need to draw the reader in. Yes, that is super important, but almost just as important is how you end that first chapter. Remember that female Idolist I mentioned up above?
Like most of y'all I've read plenty of books. That first chapter sets the tone. It tells me many things, like how long it will take me to read the book or if I'll quickly become bored with it.
I recently read Christy Barritt's Keeping Guard. It's been a while since I've picked up a book and had trouble putting it down. Was it because of her fabulous writing and characterizations or her quirky humor mixed into the suspenseful setting? No. Now that isn't to say all of those things didn't exist, they did, but that's not what kept me turning the pages.
It was how she hooked the end of the chapters. Particularly the first chapter.
Let's look at her beginning.
The cold rain felt like daggers penetrating Kylie Summers's skin. She tried to escape its torrent, but the drops kept chasing her, even as she retreated under the awning of the brick-fronted restaurant.
Are you hooked? Maybe. Does this first paragraph present a story question? Sure it does. The reader immediately wants to know what she's doing out in the rain. There's another thing this first paragraph does with a few key words; escape, torrent, chasing, retreated. These few words in this beginning paragraph are doing their job. They're telling the reader something about Kyle Summers and that she is doing something more than just trying to escape the rain.
But I'm not here to talk about beginnings. I'm here to talk about endings. First chapter endings. This next bit is the very end of chapter one. We are now in the hero's point-of-view.
"Kylie, it's me--"
As soon as the words left his mouth, something hard came down across his head. His world began to spin and then went black.
Does it make you want to turn the page? Does it make you want to see what chapter 2 has to offer? It's kind of like watching your favorite drama and having the week's episode end with the two main characters locked in the freezer with no way out. It's what brings the viewers back the next week. Just like a kick-butt ending will have your readers turning the page.
As you finish up your first chapter or while you're revising it try to remember to bring it on the end. Oh, and if you get a chance to pick up Christy Barritt's book do so. It's a good one to study how certain things should be done, especially if you're writing suspense.