Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Modern YA Writer's Handbook Vol. 2

We're back with more riveting writing tips from The (forever trunked) Modern Socialite's Handbook. Lucky for you guys we're recycling (Loretta, aren't you proud?) our old material and turning it into some truly really obnoxious writing tips. Here it goes...

The original excerpt:

While some may believe that knowing how to make an entrance is a socialite’s most valuable skill, I've found it's much more useful to know how to make an exit. Whether you’re stuck talking to some loser guy whose sole redeeming quality are his remarkably groomed eyebrows or you’re stuck at yet another boring charity event with a name like Lick Lyme Disease or Obliterate Alopecia, every socialite needs to know how to make a graceful exit. After all, who wants to be stuck wasting time at a dull fundraiser when you could be dancing on tables at Apoth├ęke?
--The Modern Socialite’s Handbook

Your writing tip for the week:

While some may believe that knowing how to start a story is a writer’s most valuable skill, we've found it's much more useful to know how to end it. Every ending, whether it's at the close of a chapter or the last line of the book has to leave the reader wanting more. A true writer knows how to make a graceful exit. After all, you can write a killer first line, but what's the point if your reader finishes the chapter and decides they'd rather be watching Gossip Girl?
--The Modern YA Writer’s Handbook

So, how about you guys, do you make an effort to end every chapter like it's your last? How do you keep your readers wanting more? Or maybe you really think that it's all in the first line? Can't wait to hear what you think in the comments.

23 comments:

Suzanne said...

I try to tie it all up AND create tension.... ummmmm, yeah. I know.

AND, endings are easy for me. Beginnings, not so much. I love tidy packages. It comes from reading too many books and wanting to throw the ones that left me guessing at the walls. ;)

Mariah Irvin said...

I have more trouble with beginnings! Endings come easier; I'm a cliffhanger kind of gal.

MeganRebekah said...

I definitely try to leave something happening at the end of each chapter. Either emotional or physical distress usually.

Little Ms J said...

I love you girls. You're the only people I know who can muddle Alopecia and YA.

I typically like my first sentence to be very interesting, something makes someone kinda glance twice and I like to wrap it up like that too. A little juxtaposition, a smattering of adjective and a tug to keep reading. I like subtle.

Natalie said...

Chapter endings are fun. I love to leave a chapter on a bit of a cliffhanger.

Loretta Nyhan said...

I'm so proud! Keep it going girls...

Chapter endings are tough for me. I usually have to rewrite numerous times to get that hook.

Icy Roses said...

I can see why agents thought you had potential in your first novel. :-)

Endings can make or break a book. Seriously, I just finished reading one where the ending was so anticlimactic, I felt gypped that I had paid money for it.

Frankie Diane Mallis said...

I think the ending is the most critical part of the book-I had a post on this a little while back methinks...but yeah your opening gets people to read your book, your ENDING is what makes them recommend the book to their friends and love you and want more.

I'm still working on mine.

Rebecca Knight said...

I put a ton of stock in an ending as a reader--it better be good, dammit!

Because of this, I took FOREVER trying to write the perfect ending for my novel. Forever. Hopefully, it paid off :), but it was far more challenging (and pressure-filled) than the opening for me.

Sarah said...

Chapter endings are fun, blessed things. But I'm the kind of person who tries to leave ten minutes into a party before realizing that The Birthday Girl is yet to arrive. So I hang around...try to leave fifteen minutes later...wait...try and leave again.
I have to be really careful about not ending chapters too soon, because when I see the light at the end of the tunnel, I tend to hurry toward it. And Pacing doesn't like that.
By the way, this Modern Socialite's Handbook...I want to read the whole thing! Hilarious, and really excellent advice.

K. M. Walton said...

I totally love my chapter endings - I know from when I read, that when a book has a wickedly good/enticing chapter ending, I desperately want to keep reading. I want all of my books to read that way.

ElanaJ said...

I definitely think the ending must be better than the beginning. Of chapters, of sections, of subplots, of the whole book. Great tip!

Christina Lee said...

True, dat!! I have been working on just this thing (along with beginnings, honestly)this week!

One Sassy Girl said...

Hmm, I'm not even "there" enough to comment properly. I write like verbal diarrhea on the key board. But this definitely got me thinking. I've wanted to join a creative writer's group for some time. Now that i'm in a new area, I think I'll look into that.

Lunar Amyscope said...

For some reason, I usually don't know that I've just finished a chapter until after I've written the last sentence. Usually it's if there was a strong visual that's also the end of a certain scene, or if I've written something 'powerful' and want to be like, 'Dun Dun Duuuuuunnnn!!'

Abby said...

Chapter endings have always been easy for me. Just leaving a little something unresolved, or cutting at a point of tension in the middle of a scene. The actual ending of the novel is another story. It took several rewrites before it wasn't too cliffhangery. :)

I think the ending my be slightly more important than the beginning, but if you can't catch a readers interest in the beginning, they'll never make it to that awesome ending.

Great post!!

Ryan said...

For me the answer to this question is relatively simple. I don't write in chapters, jsut straight scenes. So, if the reader says well I'll just set it down at the end of the next chapter they're in for a big surprise. hehehe. Kidding. I really don't write chapters though.

To keep my readers reading, I would have to say that I try to write every sentence like its my last. And, I always try to make sure the one that comes next is better than the one you just read.

Kelly H-Y said...

Even with picture books, I always find the ending to be the toughest to figure out and write!

storyqueen said...

I.Hate.Ending.Stuff.

Tis what I truly suck at.

Shelley

Carrie Harris said...

I love chapter endings. Although I have to admit that I start to feel exhausted when EVERY chapter ends with a cliffhanger. Some cliffhangers are fine. All cliffhangers reads like a movie of the week to me.

Jill Kemerer said...

I was terrible at this until I saw how good my friend was at it. I studied why she made me want to keep reading. Now, I always end my chapters on a "please keep reading" note!

dirtywhitecandy said...

Love your concept for this post - and after all it's all about teaching writers good manners towards their readers! As for me, I have beginnings coming out of my ears. Endings, I have to sweat, big time. Perhaps I WLTM someone who's the other way round!

Kerri said...

I think of each chapter as an individual first, then part of the whole. I try to hook at the beginning, whether creating a mood, some action, not so often w/ dialogue unless it's continued from the previous chapter. The last paragraph is written to come to some sort of revelation, add tension or build foreboding.
Wow, who knew I could reduce my writing technique? Who knew I even had one? You gals, always making me think =)

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