How To Create Page-Turning Chapter Endings

Every writer knows they need to nail the ending of their book to give readers the satisfaction they deserve, but what about the endings of your chapters?

If you’ve put little thought into how you’re finishing your chapters, then you’re missing out on a key component of what makes a good book great! After all, what kind of writer doesn’t want readers to say they couldn’t put their novel down?

A chapter ending that keeps readers turning pages can easily be achieved by making the most of some simple writing tricks. If that sounds like something you’d like to do, here are some ideas!

How To Create Page-Turning Chapter Endings

Create Conflict

Conflict is at the heart of every story. Even emotionally uplifting stories need a little to hold the reader’s interest, and when is the best time to grab some of that? The end of a chapter, of course.

Not everything is sunshine and rainbows, but as far as your book goes, a conflict that pops up in the last paragraph of the last page of a feel-good chapter is going to bring in the storm. Conflict right then will jar the reader, and they’ll want to read on to see where things go, so end your chapter with something that disrupts the status quo and make the job easy for them.

Elicit New Emotions

Obviously, an emotional chapter ending depends on where your story is heading, but if you can start a chapter with your MC feeling one way and then end it with a completely different emotion, chances are readers will want to know how this new turmoil will play out.

An MC who is feeling on top of the world at the start of the chapter and then has everything flipped on them right at the end is ripe for more reading, so work it in where you think it’ll have the most impact.

Try out a unique mix of emotions. Happy to sad, sad to angry, upset to elated. It doesn’t have to be an opposite emotion either, just deviate from the starting emotion to push the chapter ending into must-read-more territory.

Stir Up A Shock

For page-turning, nothing beats a shock. It’s almost as good as a cliffhanger ending. With a shock, however, the expectation is that the reader will get a resolution/answer fairly quickly, one that will keep them reading until they find it out.

Look at the type of tale you’re writing and brainstorm the shocks that would fit in with your plot. An unexpected visitor, a sudden death, or even the MC finding out that someone who they thought was dead is still alive is the level you’re going for.

Make it big, if you can, but limit a shocking shock to one chapter end only to maximize its effectiveness. A shock every other chapter will wear thin. Be strategic with this option and remember to solve it within the following few chapters to keep the reader happy.

Learn The Value Of Vows

Not every chapter of a book needs to be on-the-edge stuff. But when you’re writing one of the slower-paced chapters to balance the story or show character development, it’s easy to wonder how you’ll create an ending that makes your reader pick the book up again ASAP, instead of putting it down and forgetting about it for 6 months.

For those types of chapters, learning the value of vows will serve you well. A vow is when a character will declare their intentions for things such as seeking revenge, protecting those they love, succeeding in their goal, or finding an answer.

By declaring a vow in the last sentence, you’re making even the slowest of scenes more interesting and sparking the curiosity of your readers, who’ll want to find out if the drama of the vow lives up to the hype.

Set Loose A Secret

Who dropped the mysterious package at the door? What was said in the overheard phone call? Did everyone but the MC know where their best friend was when the boy next door disappeared?

Secrets drive plots forward, and unleashing a juicy one during the closing paragraphs of the right chapter has the power to keep readers up all night finishing your book.

Flip Fortunes

Imagine kicking off the chapter with your MC finally asking out the person they’ve been interested in forever. They’re happy, and readers are happy. The story is going in the direction they want. Then, even before the chapter is over, the fortunes are flipped. The date gets canceled, the treasure painstakingly found is stolen, the good news is sidelined by the baddest of news.

Flipping the fortune of your characters from the start of the chapter to the end is one way to ensure your readers will dive straight into the next chapter. They’ll want to see why you messed everything up again when it was just getting so good. Don’t disappoint them. Give this chapter-ending trick a try.

Pose A Question Without An Answer

While a well-placed question can pop up anytime throughout your book, adding one in the very last sentence of a chapter, when no answer can be given, is one of the ultimate page-turning tricks.

Imagine how readers will react when they’re reading about the MC being at home waiting for her boyfriend to call, but then the phone rings and the conversation is strange. The reader doesn’t know who’s on the line and the final sentence is the MC asking who she’s talking to (gasp!).

That unanswered question can’t be answered, so the reader will have to keep reading to find out what’s going on. They need to know who was on the phone. Is it the hospital calling to say her boyfriend has been in an accident? Or is it Ghostface wanting to know her favorite scary movie? The unanswered question lingers, and the reader will turn every page to find its answer.

Such a writer’s trick is simple yet effective, and like all the other suggestions listed here, when used in just the right chapter, at the right point in your story, it will not only create a page-turner but what should be a great read too!

— K.M. Allan

Find me on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

41 thoughts on “How To Create Page-Turning Chapter Endings

  1. Excellent summary, Kate! I use unanswered questions frequently, but need to vary my chapter endings more. Readers gripe about cliff-hangers, but they secretly love the concept because it increases excitement and forces them to keep going. The exception may be at the very end of the book, where you can feel betrayed by the author.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Alexander 😊. I love a cliffhanger at the end of a book if it’s part of a series so you’re hooked for the next book, but a cliffhanger with no real purpose but to mess with the reader is no fun. I’m a big fan of unanswered questions too. As someone who is currently reading your book, I think you do a great job of ending chapters. So far they’ve been nice and snappy and I’ve wanted to keep reading, so you’re doing a good job 😊.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I agree. Messing with the reader isn’t nice and can backfire! I’m glad you’re enjoying the book, but I have to admit it makes me nervous – I still have so much to learn! Feel free to share your thoughts when you finish it, as I value your opinion. 😃

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Don’t be nervous 😊. I love the idea of a boy becoming part dragon, and I think you’ve executed it well so far. I’m only at the start where the war is brewing, and I’m eager to see what happens.


  2. Great ideas, as always! Your posts are always so actionable–thank you. I think I’ve internalized some of your previous ideas along these chapter-clinching lines. I got the nicest compliment from a woman in my writing critique group, who said that while my writing is literary I do a good job of ending my chapters in a way that makes my work feel more like a page-turner.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Grant at Tame Your Book!

    Great post! In Scrivener’s Custom Metadata, writers can add a prompt to check for narrative drive, a reminder to open the “switch” in the reader’s mind. In Scrivener’s Outliner, we can use the prompt’s input to close each previously opened switch before the end of the story. Also, we can use the same technique for opening and closing dramatic questions in the body of scenes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Grant! That’s an interesting tip about Scrivener that I didn’t know. Thank you for sharing. I’ll definitely look into that feature. I’m terrible about using anything other than the basics 🤣.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Grant at Tame Your Book!

        For me, Custom Metadata kicks into high gear during the edit phase. It helps me plot, but more importantly, the prompts remind me to check for those little nuances (e.g., the five senses, weather, etc.). If your want to know more, just let me know.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. petespringerauthor

    I agree with all of these suggestions, Kate. A true page-turner is one of those books that incorporates many of these ideas. It’s like getting our gas tank topped off when we get to the end of a chapter—something that keeps us going and makes it hard to put the book down.

    Liked by 1 person

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