Thursday, July 19, 2012

Creating A Page Turner

Turn the page
“We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.” Ray Bradbury 
If only it were that easy. Learning to become a marketable writer is like peeling an onion or eating a pomegranate, which I quickly decided takes too much effort for the small gain. Writing, however, is worth the perseverance and learning curve required to become published. 
A major challenge for new writers is creating a page turner. Two basic premises factor into this—hooks and an engaging plot.
You may click here for a prior post on hooking your reader from the opening paragraph. 
From the conference classes I’ve attended, I learned many agents and acquisition editors decide whether to request a full manuscript based on the first page. If they don’t turn the first page, your manuscript is DOA. 
Because if they don’t turn the page to find out what happens next, a reader shopping for books in a bookstore won’t either. They will return it to the shelf and move on to the next book that catches their eye.
But something else will keep your manuscript from being published. I like to call it the pedestrian plot because it moves along at a slow pace accomplishing little for the storyline or character goals and conflicts. 
Since I am a pantser (seat of the pants writer) and not a plotter, I moseyed down the path my characters led me while writing my first manuscript. The finished story seemed wonderful—to me. Identifying its shortcomings and working through several revisions took perseverance, but eventually I began to see the plotter’s point of view. Shocking for you plotters out there, I’m sure. J
Not that I’m fully converted. I still enjoy following my characters' lead. However, the pantser has to at least have a premise of a plot and either plot as they write or take a thorough look at the plot after the first draft is complete.
No matter how good your story premise, characters, or descriptive writing are, these must be backed up by a stellar plot. To do this, create scenes which drive the story. Scenes must develop character conflicts and goals. Each chapter must hook the reader so they have to know what happens in the next chapter. 
I mentioned in early Writers’ Corners postings most published writers spend time in education, whether through attending conferences, reading books or online articles, or working with critique partners. If you have limited resources, one of the easiest ways to learn plotting is to study books you already own and have enjoyed reading. Look at each chapter ending. How does the writer leave you hanging to make you turn the page? How do the characters grow and achieve their goals throughout the book? How do the scenes drive the plot?
Now it’s your turn. What’s your favorite book and why? What about it made you keep turning the pages to find out what would happen next?
God bless,

© Laura Hodges Poole


  1. I think I am a pantser too! Working on my MS, open to ideas. Trying to mentally prepare myself for some much needed critiquing and polishing.

    I love history, so I love books that are either non-fiction (Bonhoeffer or Corrie Ten Boom) or I like fiction saturated with history.

    1. I agree that you're a pantser and love history! You also possess a necessary quality to become a published writer--a willingness to learn, and you work hard at your craft. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. You always give me so much to think about. I think I'm a pantser too but I'll admit research is my thing. Before I commented I had to Google "pantser"; I didn't know it was a real term! Thanks for sharing your wisdom with a newby. Much appreciated.

    1. You're welcome, Diana. I'm glad you find my blog helpful. Pantsers have to do research, but we write without every scene and chapter plotted out. We tend to follow our characters to see what they'll do. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Good day Laura first I want to say I found your site because you follow me on Twitter and second I love the fact that you have a prayer each week. and third you have your own BTR. You and I have same interest. I too host my own BTR and I host a prayer teleconference once a month....If you don't mind me asking how does one join with your prayer that you have...

    1. Hi Desiray, I'm glad you enjoyed visiting my blog. Once a week I post a prayer blog, which goes out to my email subscribers on Wednesday. Anyone visiting my blog, like yourself, can also leave a prayer request in the comments section of the post so everyone else can pray, as well.