Monday, May 7, 2012

Make your novel a page turner!

Readers. . .the almighty reader. That is why we are here, right?!
And it's up to us to keep them turning the pages of your novel and NOT close the cover before they read "the end."

1) Character tags
We take so much time on trying to figure out a dialogue tag that fits the words of our characters, but we should really take the time to to invest in our characters. And I mean all our characters.
Think of it as a memory tag, a way for the reader to remember that character. Of course we can write about the secondary character in passing, but it's so much more memorable if that secondary character has a distinctive tattoo or scar. Something that makes your main character pause and take notice of everything and everyone around them.
Or give them a little conflict too. If your main character is in a store, maybe the store clerk is having an argument on the phone with an ex.
These little tags are easy to incorporate, even you wait until the last round of edits.

2) Character Quirk
Every single one of my novels has a quirky character. I even have that as part of my author tag-line. Quirks give the characters a lovable quality that the reader enjoys. A snark of a crazy grandmother like Grandma Mozer in the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich, or my quirky Aunt Grace in Carpe Bead 'em.

Readers remember them, even if they are the secondary character's characteristic.

3) Character Thinking
Does your character ever think in his head? It's easy to let the reader see the action of your character, but it's an all together different experience to go deep in their head. They can do one thing, but think another. It helps the reader really get to know the inner workings of your characters.

4) End each chapter with a bang!
I'm not saying throw in a big train wreck at the end of a chapter, but maybe a thought or two that would make the reader stop and go hmmm. . .
For my mystery novels, I love to add a little red-herring to end the chapter on or a clue to solving the crime. It makes the reader continue to read so they can use the clue to help solve the mystery.

Analyze the book you are reading. What keeps you turning the page? Take note and try to incorporate those into how you can keep your reader hooked!


  1. Great stuff, Tonya. This is one area I think I do well. MY pacing, my end of chapter hooks, and the deep POV through "thought" tags, definitely make for page turners (or so I've been told:-).

    What I think I've missed out on is your tips for characterization with interesting/memorable/quirky details. I'll add that to my final editing stage with my next book, for sure! Thanks

  2. I always fear I don't incorporate enough on secondary characters. I'm working on it. :)

  3. Great post! Very good aspects to focus on while writing. I love the Stephanie Plum novels!

  4. Thanks, Tonya. Great post and things to always keep in mind. I am always writing, so I am always a work in progress.

  5. I'm reading the 1st Stephanie Plum novel and Grandma Mozer cracks me up. Well, so does Stephanie!

    When I'm writing my first draft, I tend to go heavy on the dialogue. I have to get that right. When I go back and edit, then I think about tags (or actions), but I find I rarely have to fix the dialogue. I try to make all my characters sound unique, which helps to determine who's "talking" when I go back to add those tags (if they're needed at all, that is)!

  6. I love your suggestion of quirky characters! I need to add some to my stories--tehy're memorable and they also provide comic relief;).

  7. Chapter endings are so tough for me! A friend and I disucssed this - we are too nice to our characters and want to make them happy. Creating that tension and conflict (sadly) requires us to throw characters in harm's way, allows them to make foolish decisions and generally muck things up. So, I'm definitely learning as I go!