The exit hook is the magic that keeps your reader wanting to begin the next scene. It’s what will stop them from putting your book down, which means it’s critical for writing a suspenseful and powerful story.
At the end of every scene, ask yourself: Why would a reader keep reading once the end of a scene is reached?
Everyone knows the cliche “hook, line, and sinker.” You can apply that to each scene but think of it as entry hook, scene middle, and exit hook. You’ll need all three of these elements in every scene to create a story your readers can’t put down.
6 Ways to Exit a Scene:
- Cliff Hanger — perhaps your protagonist’s life is at risk.
- Revelation — show the reader something that will change the course of the story.
- Set back for protagonist or antagonist — one of these characters should be very unhappy about the latest event.
- A secret revealed — you can either reveal a full secret or only part of a secret.
- A question left hanging — this will tease the reader, making them want the answer.
- An unexpected plot twist — this will keep the reader guessing.
Variety is Key
Like scene entry hooks, varying the types listed above will make the novel more interesting for your reader.
You don’t want the reader to get to the end of a scene and be bored. You want them to resist going to bed, or making dinner, or going for a walk, and instead, keep reading.
Your challenge this week: Go through your manuscript and list the type of endings you have for each scene. Do you vary them? Have you used all the types?
Exit Hook Example
Here is an excellent example of an exit that works. It’s from The Starlight Claim by Tim Wynne-Jones. To set the scene, the protagonist, Nate, is alone and hiking to his remote family cabin.
Nate is thinking about the day ahead when he’s sees something that frightens him.
The authors leaves the reader wanting to find out what Nate saw.
Note that the authors doesn’t tell us that Nate is frightened, but we know it.
You can see how this element, if used well, will encourage a reader to keep reading.
In StoryTelley, you can use the Story Map so evaluate key elements of fiction throughout your story. As shown in 5 Ways to Hook Your Reader In Every Scene, you can also select just the exit hooks in the Story Map and review how you’re using exit hooks across your entire novel.