Monday, May 2, 2022

The Final Hook

 "Keeping the Reader Reading," (Part 13 of 13).

Hooks aren't just for the beginning. Smart writers always have a hook at the end to make the reader want to buy the writer's next story.

The final hook is the fulfilled promise of the story. If the story is a romance, the story should end with the promised "happily ever after." In a mystery the crime is solved or justice is meted out, and in a fantasy the quest is achieved or the monster defeated. Science fiction as a genre doesn't have such an obvious promise, but the individual story has a goal which must be reached.

Much less effective is an obvious set up hook for the next book’s plot or a revival of the bad guy or monster.  That mainly just annoys the reader as badly as “The End?” at the end of a horror movie.  

A better choice for the final hook is a "warm fuzzy" scene that offers the reader a happy emotional feeling for the main character or characters. Warm fuzzies are the scene of domestic bliss with the hero and heroine holding their baby, or the traveler returning home to family, or the adventure companions sharing a laugh and a beer.  Warm fuzzies are very common at the end of TV episodes, too.  

If a warm fuzzy doesn't fit the tone of the story, an extremely powerful and emotional final scene is the most effective hook possible. The reader will read the end, sit quietly for a short time, then mutter to himself, "Damn that was good," and he'll wait eagerly for the writer's next story.


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