Compelling the Reader to Turn the Page

Compel – To force to a course of action

booksSome of my favorite books are the ones the keep me turning the page.  I devour them, unable to put them down.  If something causes me to stop reading, I find myself thinking, stewing, obsessing over the book.

So, what is the key to such a book?  What is it that compels me to turn the page?

For me the key is in the characters, the plot, and the placement of the chapters. 

Characters are the first important ingredient in a compelling novel.  The MCs need to been well developed, three-dimensional characters that are authentic.  I want to believe in them – their feelings and their actions.  I want to care about them – even if they are despicable people.

Next is the plot.  The story needs to also be fully developed.  It needs to take the characters beyond their comfort zone.  In my favorite books, the story takes the characters to a place beyond all hope, and has the characters claw their way back to some sort of resolution.

Finally, compelling novels are “structured” to be that way.  Chapters end with a cliff hanger,  forcing the reader to turn the page.  New chapters begin with high tension, compelling the reader to continue on.  In short, there are simply no good places to STOP reading the story.

So, in my YA novels, I apply this process and hope to craft something as compelling as my favorite reads. 

What about you guys?  What compels you to turn the page in your favorite books?

7 thoughts on “Compelling the Reader to Turn the Page

  1. I LOVE when I can’t put a book down!

    I’ve been working on the cliffhanger endings / high tension beginnings myself.

    I like to think of them as the end of an episode of a show, like, let’s say One Tree Hill. They are always just this shy of complete resolution, and then they start the next episode with why that wouldn’t work. Lets look at plan B…

  2. Nisa

    I think you nailed it. I’ve got some serious work to do in the cliffhanger department. I think you’re right though. When you don’t know what’s going to happen next, curiosity pushes you forward.

  3. I think this is something I just realized. I was taught to make the chapter a complete story in and of itself, with tension and climax and resolution. But, uh, that’s not compelling a reader to turn the page. So I’ve been working on it.

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