JUST ONE MORE CHAPTER...
If you’re reading this, you’re probably already familiar with books. That saves me the trouble of waffling on for a couple of paragraphs about the beauty one can find in a well-written story. Thank you for that. I’ll skip straight to the topic of this article: what keeps us interested in a book.
There’s no denying the fact that not all books have that key ingredient, the hallucinogenic that makes us continue to ignore the world while we turn the pages until the dinner’s charcoal, the cat has ventured to take its chances on the open prairie and the neighbours have unofficially – and somewhat illegally – adopted the baby. That stuff is magic.
Some give up on a book after the first chapter, if they haven’t been drawn in. Others keep reading until the end, simply because they hate not finishing what they have started. You think I’m joking? No chance. GoodReads have done in-depth studies on this subject, apparently. As a rule, I believe studies, though I’m often sceptical of the motivations.
Anyway, back to the real deal – what is it that makes a novel un-put-down-able?
Back in the early days of my writing career, I was searching for the perfect novel recipe. Now, I know there isn’t one. If you don’t write from the bottom of your heart, you’re only half-writing. But back then, I learned an important lesson: human beings are disaster-hungry.
If we have reason to believe the world is likely to end half-way down the next page, we’ll read on. If the villain looks well-set to kill the protagonist by the end of the chapter, we’ll read on. If our characters are likely to suffer, we want to watch it happen.
And so the most important feature of a good novel can be found: the conflict. Give your reader a conflict, give them mystery, give them the opportunity of things going wrong, and they’ll read a few pages. Finish the chapter in a cliff-hanger and you’ve got them to move on to chapter two.
But conflict isn’t enough. What is conflict between slugs? You need to make your characters strong enough to support it, not only initially, but also as the plot thickens and obstacles cut out their avenues to success. You need to make the reader care, feel something about your main character – a strong emotion, such as love and hate, or its younger cousins: pity, envy and disgust.
Whatever you do, you must create the lure, the pull one feels when they can identify with a person or a situation, because it is at that point that we ask ourselves: what would I do if I was faced with this problem? We love to judge others, and we love to offer advice. No, that’s the wrong way to go about it! Or, yes, that’s exactly what I’d do. We’re hard-wired to help others. If we care about a character, emotionally, we are invested. We want to cheer for the hero and we want to boo the villain out of the room!
Still, the characters may be awesome, and there could be mystery and conflict, and our readers may be on page thirty by now, but then what? How do we keep the book stuck to their fingers?
That, my dears, is where the magic happens. The magic is in the plot, and the author holds the magic wand. Make your world charming, make it sensory and rich, multi-layered and enticing. Make the readers want to pack up their bags and move into your world right away. Whether fantastic or real, this is the place where your characters interact, where wars are won or lost, where love is found. It would be a pity to have worked so hard on establishing the conflict and creating amazing characters, if your plot lets you down.
Fascinate the reader! Imagine your storyline like a balloon. Pump it up – it changes shape and colour. Suddenly you see what was hidden in the creases. Pump it up some more, and it changes again. Don’t, whatever you do, take that nasty pin to it. No one likes a let-down. Twist your balloon, make it different, make it unpredictable, and when the time comes, let it fly.
The ending to your novel should be just that – a satisfying dream that’s rightfully ended. Something a dreamer might want to go back to, to dream about again and again. Be the person who takes care of the dreamers, be the dreamweaver, the author they’ll go back to when they need to drift off again.
Ella Medler is a U.K. author and free-lance editor. She writes fiction in more than one genre in a seemingly vain attempt to slow down her overactive brain enough to write non-fiction on subjects she knows a thing or two about. She also does not believe in the starchy use of English and ignores the type of rule that doesn’t allow for a sentence to be finished in a preposition. Her books are action-driven and well-developed characters are her forte. Loves: freedom. Hates: her inner censor.
To keep up to date with her current writing and future projects, visit her website at http://ellamedler.wordpress.com/
New Release: BLOOD IS POWER, book 2 in the Hunter Series
New Release: BLOOD IS POWER, book 2 in the Hunter Series
In this second instalment of his story, Nick Hunter proceeds to track down and eliminate every person involved in his son’s kidnap. But where will the chase end? And has he bitten off more than he can chew? Nick discovers a tangled net of human trafficking and corruption, and world-class players with a penchant for disturbed obsessions. Gritty, dark, chock-full of suspense. Don’t start reading if you cannot finish it in one sitting.
And just to wet your appetite.............
“Action!” Dollar shouted. Then, quieter, to her. “Oh, I will enjoy watching your end, Precious. Every single second of it. Every cut, every lick of blood, every morsel of flesh that drops off your body.”
Tequila felt her eyes bulge out of their sockets. She was too terrified to breathe, too stunned to think. And still, the beast walked nearer. He sneered, and then lifted up the scalpel until it was level with his chin.
“Don’t forget to scream,” he whispered.
By the same author:
The Martin Little Series (fantasy satire):
Martin Little, Resurrected
(published by Andrews UK - 2011)
The Hunter Series (action thriller):
Blood is Heavier - 2012
The Eternal Series – in collaboration with K.S. Haigwood (paranormal suspense/romance):
Eternal Island - 2012
Eternal Immortality - 2013
Blood is the End (book three and last in the Hunter Series)
Deal With It! – Tequila’s Story – spin-off from the Hunter Series, by popular demand
Martin Little Takes Epic Action (book two in the Martin Little Series)
Eternal Inception (book three in the Eternal Series)
Pariah (book one in the Unwanted Series - drama)
Retard Ed (Sci-fi)