A technique enjoyed by thriller writers is to end each chapter with tension—the kind that makes readers want to turn the page. Along with short chapters, this maintains drama. I get that as a writer, but I also enjoy sudden events. Life is a mix of calm, solitude, relationships, drama, and sudden events or surprises. I would like to think that this reflects in my writing. Here’s some examples of chapter endings from my new book as examples of the different levels of tension. The context is onboard a submarine, under the Arctic.
Jerry replied in a hushed tone. “If you enter this dark, cold world without a proper ceremony, the King of Ice will pour his wrath on you all. Get to your quarters and into your swimsuits. Be back here by 1700 hours. That gives you twenty minutes. Now go.”
Everyone nearby watched, fascinated as Kim’s steady hand scanned back and forth on the large amplifier dial, calibrating the ambient noise, temperature, and depth. She cross-checked the kinematic parameters—speed, direction, and even the supersonic sound waves. The computer was busy, looking for a match in Hammerhead’s extensive database.
Kim was honing in on the rogue visitor. Just a few more adjustments and a result jumped onto her screen.
“Got ya,” she bounced in delight, ripping off her headphones.
“Three-five-zero feet and closing.”
Sailors perspired and clenched their fists. Movements around the Control Room slowed.
Bus Driver whispered the numbers, “Three-three-zero feet, three-zero-zero feet, two-seven-five—hell, we’re going to collide.”
Hawkeye froze, waiting for the sound of metal on metal or, worse, the sound of water flooding the room.