Write Great Paragraph Endings
That Will Hook Your Reader

Cliffhanger woman

When you write a story, you want it to grab the reader. You want it to be interesting enough that it will guide her deeper into the thicket of the story. One way to accomplish this is to write great paragraph endings.

Know that the ending of a paragraph is a significant place that adds a final flourish that can greatly impact a reader’s experience. To write great paragraph endings, you must leave the reader in anticipation, which is accomplished with the use of literary devices like the cliffhanger, which will hook your audience. 

Wilbers describes the art of paragraphs by saying “Just as a comedian pauses to let a good line sink in, the spatial pause that follows a paragraph allows the reader to reflect and react. To punctuate your point, try closing a paragraph with a quip, a colorful quote, a vivid image, a thought-provoking analogy, or an imaginative simile or metaphor” (210).

For more information about writing powerful endings, see Wilbers’ Mastering the Craft of Writing.

You’ve had the experience of needing to put a book down because of time constraints, such as when it was time to go to bed or start dinner. But you just needed five more minutes of reading time to satisfy your curiosity after reading a powerful paragraph ending.

Want to Write Great Paragraph Endings?
Infuse Emotion and Personality Into Your Writing

Man Laughing

 Know yourself as a writer. Do you infuse humor into your writing? Or are you more of a serious writer? Or somewhere in between? You as a writer will automatically end your paragraphs in keeping with your writing style. It doesn’t matter your style, you can craft a powerful paragraph ending that corresponds with the tone of your story. 

Consider ending your paragraph with a rhetorical question. This will engage your reader, lead her to think more, formulate questions in her mind, and interact more in general.

Practice writing paragraph endings that will add a dramatic twist to your story. Just a hint of new information can nudge your audience to stay the course of your story.

Examples of How to
Write Great Paragraph Endings

Woman reading paragraph endings.

Hosseini gives a great example of how to write great paragraph endings in his book The Kite Runner:  “I had one last chance to make a decision. One final decision. One final opportunity to decide who I was going to be. I could step into that alley, stand up for Hassan—the way he’d stood up for me all those times in the past—and accept whatever would happen to me. Or I could run” (77).

This is a cliffhanger because the reader will demand to know what was the narrator’s decision. Did he stand up for Hassan or did he run?

(Spoiler alert: he ran.)

Although it is prudent to end a paragraph with a tantalizing nugget, it should not be overdone. If every paragraph ends with a cliffhanger, the reader doesn’t have a chance to breathe and gather herself. Besides, it will lose its potency and will become overpowering. Everything must be done in moderation for it to be effective.

When reading stories, pay particular interest to the paragraph endings. How effective is the story as compared to the endings? A good book will have the right amount of cliffhangers at the end of sentences. Note how often the author uses them. 

Morrison gives us another example of how to write great paragraph endings when she writes this about one of her characters: “What she did was stand beside the humming Lillian Garner while the two of them cooked, preserved, washed, ironed, made candles, clothes, soap and cider, fed chickens, pigs, dogs and geese; milked cows, churned butter, rendered fat, laid fires . . . nothing to it. And nobody knocked her down” (164).

Here, the reader might question why anybody would knock her down. It was as though she was expected to be knocked down. The reader at this point will be obliged to to find out about this apparent expectation. Further, the reader might want to know about the busyness of the women. It’s a lot of work for which they are tasked. What’s that all about?

Keep in mind that when you learn to write great paragraph endings, remember that the goal is to engage the reader in whatever way fits with the story you’re writing and your writing style. A great hook involves getting the reader to formulate questions in her mind. These questions have an urgency to them and may worry her until she’s satisfied with an answer. It could also mean that you have provided her with humor. Who doesn’t like a good laugh? It’s a tension reliever and a mood elevator, and she may be looking for more of this.

Writing great paragraph endings engages the reader by acting as her guide, taking her by the hand, and leading her to the completion of your story. At the completion, she may find a paragraph ending that has a quip, quote, humor, or metaphor. 

Images created with Dream by Wombo

Wilbers, Stephen. Mastering the Craft of Writing - How to Write with Clarity, Emphasis, and S. F&w Publications Inc, 2014.

Hosseini, Khaled. The Kite Runner. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2018.

Morrison, Toni. Beloved: A Novel. Vintage International, 2013.