Reader Friday: Page Turners

Welcome to Reader Friday. Thank you to Steve Hooley for inviting me to guest post. Let’s get to it.

Do you remember reading under the covers? I do. Or, maybe you still do . . .

Usually, it was because I couldn’t put the book down. Aha! Enter the topic for today—something about which I still have much to learn.

There have been many discussions in these halls regarding the importance of scene endings and getting the reader to turn the page . . . and to keep turning pages.

Today, I thought we could have a little fun by sharing our favorite-of-all-time scene endings—as readers. You might have to dig into your memory a bit. That’s okay, we’ll wait.

I’ll start the scenes rolling. Mine just happens to be from Damage Control, by our own John Gilstrap, the fourth in his Jonathan Grave series if you don’t count the prequel. This excerpt is not only the end of the scene, but the end of the book . . . which made me immediately start the next in the series. Double whammy, John!

The man Munro saw was dressed all in black, and his face was covered by a black mask.

“I hear you’ve been looking for me,” Jonathan said. He smiled at the sight of the spreading stain in Munro’s trousers. “Well, here I am.”

I don’t know about you, but for me, that’s a killer scene ending.

Over to you, Killzoners. What’s your favorite-of-all-time scene ending?




Deb Gorman, owner of Debo Publishing, lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her husband, Alan, and their very smart German Shepherd, Hoka. Together they have seven children, 24ish grandchildren, and a few great-grandchildren scattered about the country.




Believing that one of the most foundational bedrocks of humanity—family relationships—is under attack, she writes redemptive stories of families in crisis.


This entry was posted in scene endings, scenes, Writing by Steve Hooley. Bookmark the permalink.

About Steve Hooley

Steve Hooley is the author of seven short stories published in four anthologies, a Vella serial fiction, and is currently working on the Mad River Magic series – a fantasy adventure series for advanced middle-grade to adults. More details available at:

27 thoughts on “Reader Friday: Page Turners

  1. I agree. Love that scene ending–it keeps you turning the pages because it conveys a lot about the protag in just a few short sentences.

    • It’s good, for sure, BK.

      And since it’s the end of the book, I wasted no time buying the next in the series by Mr. Gilstrap. 🥳

  2. While I can’t say it’s the “most” memorable, it’s one that’s stuck with me for decades. I can remember where I was when I read it (at the Y, on the recumbent bike), and exactly what happened. It was the opening chapter. What I can’t remember is the title of the book or the author. I think it must have been Crais or Connelly. I’ll be back when/if I figure that out.

  3. A scene ending I’ve never forgotten is from Herman Wouk’s classic, The Winds of War. The character Byron, son of the main character Pug Henry, is a grad student who has taken a position in Poland, doing research for a Jewish scholar. It is the night before Germany invaded Poland. He’s dead asleep, on the floor of a rabbi’s home which is at a yeshiva. He is shaken awake by the rabbi, and notices the students scurrying around, gathering their things.

    “Yes, what is it?” he said.
    Der Deutch,” the Jew said. “Les Allemands.
    “Huh? What?”
    “De Chormans.”
    Byron sat up, his voice faltering. “Oh, the Germans? What about them?”
    “Dey comink.”

    • Thanks, Jim…from an era of history that has always fascinated me.

      I can see the rabbi’s face, monstrous with fear.

      How that could have happened had always mystified me, until more recently. I listened yesterday to a woman who escaped N Korea. Chilling. Hitler’s legacy lives on, I’m afraid.

      Thanks for sharing!

  4. Okay. Spent some time with Google and found the book. “Blood Work” by Michael Connelly. Setup: As the story begins, we meet the protagonist and don’t know much about him other than he’s a little out of breath from his morning walk, and there’s a woman waiting on his boat. We learn he used to be a cop, and she shows him a picture of her sister and son, and he wants no part of whatever she might be asking and tried repeatedly to tell her so. She says the woman in the photo saved his life, and he asks what she’s talking about. The chapter ends with this:

    She raised her hand but reached past the photo he was still holding out to her. She place her palm on his chest and ran it down the front of his shirt, her fingers tracing the thick rope of the scar beneath. He let her do it. He stood there frozen and let her do it.

    “Your heart,” she said. “It was my sister’s. She was the one who saved your life.”
    I was hooked.

    • Good one, Terry.

      I haven’t read the book, but saw the movie. Clint Eastwood played that guy.

      And it was a standout scene in the movie, too, although I suspect the book is better. Isn’t that what they all say?

      Thanks for stopping by, and a good day to you.

      • I don’t know what they all say, but Wim Wenders says in 50 Golden Rules of Filmmaking: “#42. Don’t adapt novels.”
        Maybe this is because the first people who go to see the movie will be those who loved the book, and there’s often an inverse relationship between the book and the novel; the more they loved the former, the less they like the latter.
        The spell that a book weaves in our minds seldom survives the book’s distillation into film.

  5. Good morning, Deb. Thanks for an intriguing question, and thanks to Steve for inviting you to guest post today.

    Gosh. There’re so many great scene endings that have forced me to turn the page, I’d have a hard time choosing a favorite. So I went to the last novel I read (just finished Lawrence Block’s Time to Murder and Create) and picked a chapter ending.

    Setup: The protagonist, Matthew Scudder, is walking down a familiar sidewalk in New York. He’s slightly inebriated, and he thinks the person who had been trying to kill him is dead. He’s relieved that his life is no longer in danger, but he harbors some guilt over the man’s suicide. He approaches a doorway where an old woman usually steps out to ask him for money.

    Here’s the end of the chapter:

    “I had the coins ready, and she came out of the doorway as I reached it. But it wasn’t the old woman.
    It was the Marlboro man, and he had a knife in his hand.”

    I had to turn the page.

    • For sure, Kay! Wouldn’t we all turn the page on that one?

      “There’re so many great scene endings that have forced me to turn the page, I’d have a hard time choosing a favorite.”

      I agree. And learning to write those scene endings is one reason I read the novels I read . . . partly for pleasure, partly as a student.

      Thanks for chiming in this morning!

  6. Wonderful Reader Friday post, Deb! I love your pick from John Gilstrap, and the ones others have shared in comments. I’m drawing a blank this morning, after have too little sleep last night, but I agree that scene endings can really propel us forward.

    There is one example that springs to mind, after all, from an author I love, Lawrence Block. However, it’s not from his Matthew Scudder series nor one of the Bernie Rhodenbarr books, both of which I’ve read and enjoyed. It’s an example he uses in one of his writing books from one of his Chip Harrison novels, and it’s remained with me.

    “Chip, I’m pregnant.”


    Mind you, this is a single sentence chapter, so calling this a scene isn’t strictly true, but I’d certainly turn the page.

    Thanks for guest posting today. Have a wonderful weekend!

    • Thanks, Dale!

      I can think of several scenarios where that scene ending could spell massive tension…and the NEED to turn the page.

      Thanks for checking in this morning…

  7. Great question, Deb!

    I just read Silence of the Lambs. The following scene begins on page 5. Clarice Starling is a student at the FBI Academy and has been called to meet with a high-rankling special agent. She’s ambitious and her “self interest snuffled ahead like a keen beagle. She smelled a job offer coming.”

    Her task is to interview Dr. Hannibal “the Cannibal” Lector. The agent says:
    “Now. I want your full attention, Starling. Are you listening to me?”
    “Yes sir.”
    “Be very careful with Hannibal Lecter…The head of the mental hospital will go over the physical procedure you use to deal with him. Don’t deviate from it. Do not deviate from it one iota for any reason. If Lector talks to you at all, he’ll just be trying to find out about you. It’s the kind of curiosity that makes a snake look in a bird’s nest…Tell him no specifics about yourself. You know what he did to Will Graham…He gutted Will with a linoleum knife. It’s a wonder he didn’t die. Will’s face looks like damn Picasso drew him.”

    Talk about a hook! Did I turn the page? Yup, all 338 pages.

    • Wow, Debbie! Another case of a movie I’ve seen but not read the book. I need to upgrade my habits I guess.

      That scene ending, plus the description of Starling’s mindset would make me turn the page, even though I already know how the story ends.

      I’d want to experience the words, not just Hollywood’s version of them. (Even though Hopkins, Foster, and Glenn are superb actors.)

      Thanks for weighing in!

  8. 🪝 I, too, am drawing a blank. The urgency of turning a page dissipates with doing so, leaving behind not even a ghost of a memory. I might remember if I had put the book down at that point, but that never happens.
    🪝 When preparing my high fantasy book for Vella (KDP’s oubliette), I made sure that as many chapters (not scenes) as possible ended with a hook. If I couldn’t arrange for a hook, I recast the final sentence as a question, instead of a statement. I reached over 80% hook endings.
    🪝 Every chapter need not end in a hook. Readers may start to turn the page, note the chapter ending ahead and think, “Here comes the hook.” Predictability is a bad thing.

    • “If I couldn’t arrange for a hook, I recast the final sentence as a question, instead of a statement.”

      Nice trick, J. I think I’ll give that a go.

      Thanks for stopping by and chatting.

  9. I am totally drawing a blank, Deb. Too late in the day, the brain’s already shut down. I’ll re-read in the morning when I’m fresh. In the meantime, welcome to the other side of TKZ!

    • Thanks, Sue! I totally understand. Don’t ask me thinking cap questions after 2 or so in the PM.

      Let us know when one pops into your head…

  10. Deb, first of all, thanks for the nod. Second, my apologies for being so late to the game here. And unexpected funeral for a friend knocked the end of the week off balance.

    But I’ll play along belatedly. One of my favorite scene endings ever came from Stephen King’s ‘SALEM’S LOT. As a setup, brothers Danny and Ralphie Glick encountered a beast in the woods at night. At this point in the story, we’re not sure what came of them. Then, later . . .

    “There was no sound but that brought on the breeze. The figure stood silent and thoughtful for a time. Then it stooped and stood with the figure of a child in his arms.
    “‘I bring you this.’
    “It became unspeakable.”

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