Jon Gibbs (jongibbs) wrote,
Jon Gibbs

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What do you think writers should do to create a page turner?

One of the suggested topics for NJAN panel/Q&As for next year is 'Creating Page Turners'. At first glance, this might seem like it only applies to thrillers or action/adventure novels, but when you think about it, every book we write should aspire to be considered as some form of page turner. After all, we all hope to draw our readers far enough into our books so they want to find out what happens next, don't we?

Page turners come in all manner of different shapes and sizes. From the obvious nail-biters, 'Oh my gosh, I just have to find out if they get away from that exploding giraffe!'; 'Will he get away with it?' affair, to the more subtle 'Will they/won't they?' storyline.

In fact, making your book a page turner is probably more important if it's not the kind of story which features thrilling car chases and protaganists running for their lives ie: the 'How will that dark cloud on the horizon affect these characters, who I've come to know and care for?' category, or in the case of non-fiction, 'This isn't a subject I was remotely interested in, but I can't believe how fascinating it is.'
Especially when you consider how we need to impress the jaded palettes of potential agents and editors, who are, after all, the most important people with their thumbs on the actual pages (at least for those of us aiming for traditional publication).

So how can we achieve that goal?

I don't think there's a magical answer, but the first step is surely to recognize it needs achieving.

The more our readers care about our characters, the more invested they'll become in finding out what happens to them. That doesn't mean they have to be in constant peril, far from it, but if all we do is give our protags problems, without taking care to ensure the readers care about whether or not they overcome them, we're probably not going to end up with as good a novel as we might like. My own advice then, would be to work on making our characters more empatheticable...ness, if you know what I mean, so readers will relate to them and their situations.  

How about you?

What do you think writers should do to create a page turner?
Tags: fiction, writing

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