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Blog: This Writing Life


  • Writer's pictureMelissa Stoller

It's All About First Lines and Transitions in Chapter Books

This content was originally posted at Children's Book Academy.

In a chapter book, the first line of each chapter should hook readers and draw them into the story. Similarly, the last line of each chapter should ease the transition into the next chapter. That important last line should serve as a mini-cliffhanger to keep the reader turning pages to find out what happens next. When I write my chapter books, I look at each chapter as a story, with a beginning, middle and end. And I rely on my first and last sentences of each chapter to help propel the action. Here are some examples of first and last lines from the first chapter of five popular chapter books. When I read these lines, I feel compelled to turn the page and continue the journey. The Fantastic Frame: Danger! Tiger Crossing, by Lin Oliver Chapter 1 first line: “I saw a giant orange pig on our swing set this morning,” said my little sister, Maggie. Chapter 1 last line: If a talking orange pig lived next door, maybe something even weirder was lurking in my own backyard. Key Hunters: The Mysterious Moonstone, by Eric Luper Chapter 1 first line: “There she goes again,” Cleo whispered. Chapter 1 last line: Cleo and Evan ran back to look, but Ms. Crowley was gone. The Haunted Library: The Ghost in the Attic, by Dori Hillstad Butler Chapter 1 first line: “What’s the matter, Kaz?” Claire asked as she shook the dice in her hand. Chapter 1 last line: Like Beckett said, if he went into the Outside, he would blow away. Roscoe Riley Rules: Never Glue Your Friends to Chairs, by Katherine Applegate Chapter 1 first line: Hey! Over Here! Chapter 1 last line: Well, maybe you should hear the whole story . . . Ballpark Mysteries: The Fenway Foul-Up, by David A. Kelley Chapter 1 first line: “Watch out,” Kate yelled. Chapter 1 last line: “Big D’s lucky bat has been stolen!” And as a bonus, here’s my chapter book example: The Enchanted Snow Globe Collection: Return to Coney Island, by Melissa Stoller Chapter 1 first line: “Ha, I won again,” said Emma. Chapter 1 last line: After a few moments, a huge roller coaster appeared in front of them as they gently landed on solid ground. So if you’re writing a chapter book, or any book, consider the first and last lines of each chapter to make sure they hook the reader right from the beginning, and then help move the reader to the next chapter with an exciting or suspenseful transition. Happy writing and creating! I hope to see you in the comment section below!


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