Chapter hooks on WIP Wednesday

McRae’s hotel after the eruption my hero and heroine are hiding from in the following scene.

I’ve evolved the tactic of not putting in chapter breaks in first draft. I just tell the story, and then I use the initial edit to reshape it, putting in breaks, baiting hooks at the end of chapters, and setting hooks at the beginning of the next.

I’ve spent a couple of hours today doing just that with a novella, so I thought chapter hooks might be quite fun. Please give me an excerpt from the start or end of a chapter, in which you intrigue your readers and pull them in. Mine is from Forged in Fire, my story for the Belle’s 2017 box set.

And the uncle and aunt abandoned her, ruined by their daughter’s lies and a conscienceless scoundrel, bereaved, poverty stricken. “I have been content, on the whole.” Tad was moved beyond words, her gracious acceptance casting sharp relief on his anger at the players in his own tragedy. And his break with his family had given him freedom, not enslavement to the whims of a cantankerous widow.

He rubbed his cheek gently on the soft hair that tickled his chin. She was wrong about her appeal. She might not have the kind of spectacular beauty that attracted fawning courtiers, but she was pretty. If she was his, he would dress her in colours that better became her. Green, perhaps, to bring out the green flecks in her eyes.

But she could not be his. So foolish to even think of it, when he was leaving New Zealand, heading back to the very Society that had wronged her fifteen years ago. He had no right to be holding her tenderly, caressing her, thinking about kissing her and more. He was no wild boy to act on this inconvenient attraction, this protective tenderness. But he didn’t let her go.


5 thoughts on “Chapter hooks on WIP Wednesday

  1. I have an obvious one for this. Here’s the end of Chapter 24 of The Novel Formerly Known as The Long Shadow — which (she says nonchalantly) will be published on 6 October this year. (Title still TBC.) A quick glance at a history book will tell you what happens next, but I’m kind of hoping people won’t feel the need to do that.

    Background to scene: John is taking part in the British invasion of the Helder peninsula, 1799. He’s in a spot of bother.


    ‘Prepare to give fire!’ John cried.

    The front ranks of the squares dropped to their knees and those standing behind fumbled with their muskets.

    ‘Load!’ John shouted into the darkness. ‘Present and fire!’

    A ragged volley answered him. Before his brigade managed to load another shot the enemy fired a second time. The third battalion of the Fourth presented and fired, but the enemy responded and yet more of John’s men dropped. John watched it all as though from a distance. He could see the fear on his men’s faces, and taste their despair as their muskets misfired with powder that had grown damper and damper all day.

    Where was everyone else? No help could be expected from the Russians, but flashes of fire all along the distant sand hills towards Egmont told John that the rest of Abercromby’s division was not far off. More men had fallen; the ranks closed up over the dead and wounded. Just as John began to think he, too, would die on this strip of scrub-covered sand, trapped between barren fields and the sea, Chetham reappeared. He leaned over his horse’s neck and gasped, unable to say anything but to point at a line of red-coated soldiers approaching from the left. They fired and the enemy paused, slowed for a moment in its onslaught.

    ‘General Hutchinson,’ Chetham managed. ‘Lord Paget’s cavalry coming.’

    Relief flooded John’s veins so fast he felt dizzy, but then the enemy fired again. A few yards away from him, Colonel Hodgson gasped and fell off his horse. John looked down at him in consternation, then raised his sword and shouted, ‘Brigade! Prime and load!’

    Fingers slippery with rain fumbled in cartridge boxes for sodden paper-wrapped charges. Ramrods flashed up and down barrels with a metallic whistling sound. John raised his sword. ‘Make ready! Give fi—’

    A rumble of enemy musketry interrupted him. John felt a shock to his shoulder as though he had been whipped. His sword flew out of his hand and his horse staggered back. Beside him Chetham started forwards with a cry. John wondered what Chetham was shouting about, until he saw his coat half-ripped from his shoulders and the blood seeping through his shirt. Only then did he feel the pain, surging down his arm as though his blood flowed full of knives.

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