If the reader does not turn the page, then ALL IS LOST. The book didn’t work for that reader, didn’t hook her/him. That’s a tragedy for the writer, and maybe even for the reader because it is an opportunity missed.


What the writer wants is to completely engulf the reader in the story, make it so unputdownable that there is no question that the reader will be with you on every page. Reader’s interest? HELD. Swept away, in fact.

The writer constructs a world that the reader can dwell in for a time. It doesn’t have to be true, but it has to be factual within that world, with nothing out of place for that invented space.

In suspense fiction, the reader is compelled forward by the NOT KNOWING — what will happen? will she find her missing brother, will he get the girl, will the detective find the culprit?

To reveal the answers too soon is to short-change the reader from part of the experience. In suspense, there need to be red herrings, obscurities, secrets, and miss-assignments.  Hidden parts of the story have to be managed so that the chronology of who-knew-what-when is laid out as the writer intends.

None of that makes a difference unless the reader is hooked from page 1. To make that happen, consider starting in the middle of the action, not necessarily at the beginning of the story. Create a scene that sets up the “what’s going to happen next?” question in the reader’s mind. Allow enough detail about the main character that the reader can identify with that person. Avoid long passages of prose because many readers skip over those — tell the story with dialog if you can.

Maybe, for at least some readers, your created world will resonate, they will want to be in that world and will commit to it and read the story! Find some examples of first pages or first chapters that you think handle this especially well, and learn from those.


Manna is everywhere!

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