As an author, you want to write a page-turner: fiction so compelling that the reader ignores sleep, eating, etc. to read what you have to say.
How do you do that?
It starts with hooking your reader in 1,500 words or less, or about the first five pages. You must get the reader to quickly buy into what you’re selling. There are no hard-and-fast methods, but here are three I have found to be effective.
1. Up the “oh crap!” factor. Increase the trouble for the protagonist. For example, at the beginning of The Lost Testament, Darrion James is divorced, broke, and about to be evicted. He can’t get a job because of his ruined reputation. Then, he falls asleep on a train and gets robbed of what little he has, and finds himself stranded. See what I mean?
2. End each chapter on a high note. I read Left Behind in two days. Almost every chapter ended on a high note, a cliffhanger, or mystery I felt needed to be resolved before I put it down. If you can master that, your reader will put it down. . .after they finish it.
3. Delete the unnecessary. Authors are word merchants, but we often fall victim to using too many words.
How do you tell what’s unnecessary? Push the action, reveal character, or delete it. Adjectives and adverbs are like whipped cream on cheesecake — you can do more with less. Or, the “nuclear” option: do a word count and cut 30 percent of it. You can’t cut that much? Start deleting and see where you end up. Be a surgeon and not a serial killer.
Brian Thompson’s passion is motivating and encouraging others to write and to pursue Do-It-Yourself publishing. He is also author of the Christian fiction thrillers The Lost Testament, and The Revelation Gate. You can read more about Brian by visiting his author site.