Budding authors ask me how I manage to inject such pace in my books and hold a reader’s attention to create a page turner. The answer at first seems to be evasive as I have to use that annoying phrase, “It comes down to your audience”. However, there is general rule, but let’s have a brief exploration on audience for a moment as it has importance.
Who is your intended audience?
Trying to write a book that’s going to satisfy everyone is a waste of time and paper (and bytes). So decide who is going to pick your book up and like and it, and allow the rest to put it back on the shelf. This is YOUR choice, so be specific and consistent. If you’re going to have a knife plunging into someone’s guts and entrails dropping out, visualise the type of person who is going to want to read it, and keep them firmly in mind at all times when writing your story.
Stimulating imagination is the greatest hook for most readers. Let the reader’s imagination do the work for you. It’s not a cop out, in fact it’s one of the most powerful and compelling tools a writer has and should be used constantly. You know this already from those times you’re reading a book where you’re flying over the words, your heart is faster and eyes are wide. Are you SEEING the words? No, you’re in your head seeing the scene take place at gripping pace in your mind’s eye. Writers who achieve this understand the power of brevity, the ability to say a lot in as fewer words as possible. You simply cannot achieve “one of those moments” in a book with a lot of fiddly detail; it slows the reader as they get bogged down READING.
This is more than just liposuctioning the fat or showing over telling. It’s the ability to NOT SAY something, forcing the reader to imagine it. This has the added bonus of the reader seeing it exactly the way that most suits them, stopping you writing details that don’t match each reader’s expectations so they lose the authenticity of the scene according to them. A bi-product of this is it also innately allows for a wider audience for your work.
If you combine this with the end of the scene, and even chapter end, it becomes a compelling hook for the reader, creating that elusive and strived-for beast – the page-turner.
One other little trick that authors use to speed up reading and give the feeling to the reader of pace, you can even give a feeling of panic to the reader if used in a gripping scene, is to write short lines, even down to half the page width if possible in places. You must not continue this for long as it will irritate your reader, but in the right amounts and in the right place the technique is highly effective.Good luck with yours!
- Coach / Editor / Author
- Speaker on:
- Writing for Authority – Accelerated Growth From a Business Book.
- Writing from Imagination – Fiction Writing for First-time Authors.
- “Don’t forget to write!”