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.

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Opening and ending hooks on WIP Wednesday

eavesdroppingI tend to write drafts in scenes, then decide later where the chapter breaks go. This means that at edit stage I need to find page-turning line to end a chapter on, and an enticing line to begin the next. Or I need to write one.

We call these hooks. They catch on the readers’ mind, and then we reel them in.

This week, I’m looking for your hooks. Give me an excerpt that makes me want more. Here’s one of mine, from Revealed in Mist.

She transferred the contents of the tray to a table beside Miss Diamond’s chair: the pot, a cup, a plate of neatly sliced ham, cheese, pickles, and bread, and a plate of tiny iced cakes. Madame watched and Miss Diamond sat compulsively eating one marzipan shape after another. “That will be all,” Miss Diamond said. “Dupont will serve me.”

Dupont followed Prue across the room and closed the door firmly behind her.

Would there be time to get into the book room while they were occupied? She could at least find out whether she could easily pick the lock with the tools she had been carrying in her apron pocket all afternoon.

She had just taken them from her pocket and bent to examine the lock when a loud scream from below sent her jerking upright then plunging back downstairs.

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