As I was reading the other day, I tried to think about what was driving me to keep reading—why was I interested? What was I looking forward to reaching in the story?
I realized that what drives a story to be read (and, I would imagine, to be written) is the desire to see something—looking forward towards an event expected in the story (this is not always a positive event, as we’ll see)—we want the resolution of a question.
Here are a few vague possibilities I thought of:
- A character’s confession to another (particularly if we expect the outcome of that confession to be dramatic or satisfying)
- The discovery of a secret (by the character or the reader; the latter especially in the case where the character already knows, the former in the case where the reader knows and expects the character to have a certain reaction)
- The defeat of a villain (especially when the villain is particularly heinous)
- A couple getting together
- A character threatened/hurt and protected/comforted
- For a writer, it may be something we wish to write out of an appreciation for its beauty, emotion, theme, descriptions/experience, etc.
If you can find the thing you look forward to writing, and/or something you think the reader would look forward to reading, you may unlock the key to the classic “page-turner.”