Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Page After Page

What makes a page turner?

That’s the million dollar question. I really don’t know for sure. I have some ideas—a compelling story, memorable characters, fascinating plot, suspense.

But while there are certain general rules to follow, I think whether or not a story is a page turner depends on the reader.

As a writer, we’re told not to end a scene or a chapter with someone going to sleep, or leaving a room. It’s better to put the scene break right before the ending of the scene, to end the chapter in the middle of what’s happening.

But even stories that don’t do that will cause me to keep reading, to keep turning the pages, if they hook me.
Certain types of stories interest me. I love historicals. I love sassy heroines and alpha heroes with a trace of vulnerability. Wondering what will happen to them will make me keep reading to the very end. Multi-layered characters draw me into the story. A plot that’s believable, fun or whimsical will keep me turning pages to get to the end.

Humor will also make me turn the pages. If I’m laughing, I’ll keep reading. I’ll stay up all night if I have to in order to prolong that feeling and to keep up with the story.

Contemporaries with a beautiful love story will pull me in. A story that conveys urgency, that makes me wonder what happens next, that sticks with me and makes me want to find out what happens next. A story that I can relate to, where I can envision myself in the role of the heroine, will extend the story even when I’m not reading it and will make me excited to get back to it.

So tell me, what makes a story a page turner for you? Or conversely, what makes you stop reading?


  1. I think you're right that it all depends on the reader, but one of the main things has to be a need to know what happens next. With a romance novel, the readers know it will have a happy ending, but we have to leave them wondering how on earth that is going to happen!

  2. Yes, of course, Paula, but what exactly makes the reader want to know what happens next (in your opinion)? Is it plot based or character based? Could just be my understanding of your question, but when I hear "what happens next" to me, that sounds like plot--first this happens, then this, then that. Which is fine, but sometimes, I find it more compelling to watch the character development--how is the character changing, how is the relationship changing, etc. For me, if done well, that can be the reason I want to keep reading as well. What do you think?

  3. You're right, it could be either plot or character development, or a combination of both. I think I prefer the latter because to me, the plot and the characters are completely intertwined. For this reason, I'm never very sure whether the characters drive the plot, or vice versa, since sometimes it may be the former, other times the latter (in the same story, I mean)

  4. I honestly think writers are the only ones concerned with that question! :) It's a bit like the chicken and the egg one.

  5. Yes! Readers simply want a good story!

  6. I think it depends on the reader...but I love suspense..I love a good love story and I love engaging characters. The story has to draw me into the characters world and make me feel that I don't want to leave until I know what happens next. A great story leaves me wanting more.


  7. Reading tastes do vary in the extreme. What one person loves, another person won't care for.

    I mostly favor contemporary romance with spice. None of that closed door stuff for me. I like a fast pace, nothing slow or dragging. I like alpha heroes.

    I'm not sure what exactly would make me stop reading, but I do if I don't like a book. There are too many good books out there to put up with one I don't like.

  8. When i was traveling to visit my parents last month, I read three Nora books. Correction, I tried to read three. I read two, and couldn't get past the forth chapter in the third book. The difference? I couldn't get into the story. Or the main character.
    Character is plot, and plot is character. I like a character with an interesting outer goal. A mystery to solve. A relationship difficulty, An adventure.
    Then she has to have some inner flaw, a raw nerve or old wound that becomes exposed when she tackles the external problem. The resolution of that secret is what's most satisfying to me.