When you sense that you are getting closer to writing “The End” and according to your plot, you only have a few more events to write, then this is the moment when the intensity of your book must heighten to new and higher levels.
Chapters Seventeen, Eighteen, and Nineteen are meant to do just that. These chapters contain the last blasts of excitement before the finale, which is Chapter Twenty.
(Remember: your chapter numbers do not have to be identical with my previous statement. This is just a simple format for most books. Regardless of what chapter number your book will end on, the role of the two or three chapters before it is to raise the suspense, thrill, and/or romance. The first book in my series actually ended on Chapter Thirty-One. There are no rules for how long/short or how many chapters you can have in your book. It is your choice!)
For a mystery, your detective at this point is right on the heels of the suspect that has been murdering people during the course of your book. During these last few chapters your detective should be at the murderer’s doorstep, maybe even literally. The danger must be so intense that the book will pulse with a heartbeat in the reader’s hands.
For a romance, your two characters at this moment should finally accept their feelings about each other, even if they don’t exactly voice them yet. If they already have expressed their undying love for one another, perhaps something happens that could threaten to tear them apart forever. Until the last chapter that is. Unless you’re one of those romance writers who like tragic endings...?
For a thriller (horror, supernatural, etc.), the protagonist must be on the cusp of conquering his or her goal. Now is the time for battles. Now is the time for good to come face to face with evil. Now is the time for the world to hang on the balance of extinction.
But save the fireworks and explosion for Chapter Twenty!
QUESTION: What book(s) have you read that had the most exciting chapters leading up to the climax?