3 S.R. Johannes: 10 ways to write a page turner!

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

10 ways to write a page turner!

There are 10 easy ways (in my opinion) to keep up the pace (or suspense/tension) of a novel. This can be for any book to keep the reader clipping along and turning the pages.

10 steps to a page turner

1) Create short chapters - most of mine are 1500 to 2000 words. (It can't be 250 word chapters with 1000 chapters in the book. Thats' just annoying :)

2) End on the conflict, forcing the reader into the next chapter. (I call it the inverted climax curve! I'm smart huh?)

3) Keep your narrative short. At the end, go through and cut back scenes with too much setting or exposition. I say try to cut them in 1/2. (Actually, I should do this in my conversations as well. I'm sure my friends would appreciate it.)

4) Use short sentences when you want reader to feel rushed into reading. Longer sentences help to slow it down and create tension as well as a break before you ramp back up again. (I call this the roller coaster feeling. Make your reader sick :)

5) Add a ticking time bomb. This can be an actual time countdown or a lead in to knowing something is coming soon. (This even works in the ebay auctions I bid on. There's just something about a clock that creates stress.)

6) Create a strong opening line in every chapter that yanks the reader in. (I tend to spend more time on this than I do finding my dangling modifiers. I do not recommend that :)

7) Create strong closing lines that tease the reader to turn the page. (Do not let them put that book down! If you have to drag them on to the next chapter by their bookmarks)

8) Torture your MC - have her make mistake so actions get thrown back in her face. (I talk to my MC. "Oh you think that's bad, wait until I give you this!" I know I'm nutzo)

9) Raise the stakes each time it looks like resolution may be about to happen. (Give your reader the feeling of "oh thank God" and then take them to "WHAT the hell!"

10) Allow room to breathe. (You don't want them to pass out. Not good PR....But not too much room :)

Feel free to ask me questions! :)

4 comments:

Noah Hollis said...

Great post! I spend so much time making sure all of my chapters end with some sort of reveal. Not to mention my 6 plot twists and cliffhangers that all occur in the final 2 chapters. Some of my beta readers have already threatened me if I don't tell them how it's all resolved!

Sheena-kay Graham said...

These are some great tips. Though you might not want to make your reader feel like they are on the verge of entering an asylum. A tiny break from the tension isn't a bad thing.

Author Kaira Lansing said...

Great tips! Thanks :)

J.L. Campbell said...

These sound like excellent tips to me, Shelli.

J.L. Campbell writes at The Character Depot
and the Jamaican Kid Lit Blog.