This is essential for every story whether it be a full length novel or a short story. It doesn’t matter if you’re writing romance, thriller, horror, fantasy, sci fi, or YA. You must ensure your readers will turn the page to see what happens next. Your TASK is to make the readers want to keep reading no matter what is happing around them.
- a. Something must happen in every scene.
- b. A question must remain unanswered at the end of ever chapter except the very last one.
- c. Ensure your Main Character propels that action. The reader wants to emphasize with the MC and intimately share experiences and the MC’s journey. Don’t give the reader a reason to stop turning the pages.
- d. DON’T tell the reader everything that’s going to happen before it happens as that can destroy the suspense and deprive the reader the enjoyment of surprise.
- e. Give your MC bigger challenges to overcome as your story progresses. These should be compelling and the MC must overcome these to move on. The MC’s character should be revealed and grow as the MC moves through these challenges.
- f. Throw your MC into a pressure cooker so they must do such and such by a certain time otherwise e.g. the world will end, the MC’s mother will make the biggest mistake of her life, the MC’s father will miss his flight, etc.
- g. Lee Child, says: “Write the slow parts fast and the fast parts slow.”
- h. DON’T load the first chapter with back story and descriptions as this will slow the pacing from the get go. See how much you can cut that isn’t missed. No need to tell the reader that the MC’s parents were church goers, loved a good steak, had to shop on Thursdays or the world would end, did not do the washing on a Sunday, etc. Let the reader find this out as they progress through the story and only if it moves the story forward.
- i. Dialogue is great but shouldn’t replace action. If you have no dialogue on any page in your story then it better be compelling otherwise the reader will stop reading.
- j. Aim for clarity. Less is more.
- k. DON’T use a longer word when a short word will do the task.
- l. Ensure that all unanswered questions are answered by the end of the story. If you don’t do this, then the reader will be frustrated that you left them hanging. Nothing spoils a good tale than one with an incomplete ending.