The page turner. It’s every writer’s dream to write a novel or script that the reader simply can’t put down until the last page. But how do we go about achieving this result? Below are some suggestions.
Include hooks whenever possible: A hook is an action or event that draws us into the story in an compelling way. Use hooks to kick-off your story, as well as to bolster interest at the beginning or end of your scenes.
Write with attitude: Use punchy, or concrete language, depending on the subject matter, that bristles with attitude. Middle-of-the road, or non-comital language is boring. What is the writer’s attitude towards the events being described? What is the character’s? Make sure attitudes are strongly revealed.
Write in a way that creates suspense: The famous film director, Alfred Hitchcock, was renowned for creating suspense in his movies. He said that surprise lasts for a few seconds, but suspense may carry the whole scene, or even the entire movie.
Create Anticipation: Anticipation causes us to want to know what the next action, event, or outcome of a situation is likely to be. It differs from suspense in that it does not necessarily involve a threat, or danger.
Anticipation may be introduced in dialogue, through a character talking about a forthcoming event, in a conversation with another, or through a major story goal being set—such as the hero winning or failing to win the prize at the end of the tale.
Create Uncertainty: Introduce uncertainty about the outcome of specific events, your Hero’s ability to achieve her goal, or the way the story will end. The reader will keep turning the pages in order to find out.
Write with emotion: Writing with emotion means that your characters makes us feel their joy, pain, and sensitivity as if they were our own. My mentor, the South African film director, Elmo De Witt used to say that a story without emotion is a story that doesn’t get read. He couldn’t have been more right. Inject emotion into your writing and watch those pages turn.
Although there are others, these six simple techniques, deftly handled, will help to turn your story into a page turner that readers will find hard to put down.
Hooks, attitude, suspense, anticipation, uncertainty, and emotion are six ways to help you create a page turner. Use one or more of these techniques whenever possible.