Today I want you to think of two of your favorite books. Now, I want you to list the top two reasons why you enjoyed each book or fell asleep at night reading it because you simply could not put it down.
Keep them in mind because we are going to revisit them in the end.
There are many reasons people read the same author time and again. It could be writing style, character building, world building, relatability – the list is endless. But, for every story, there exist two underlying “factors” that hook the reader into helplessly wanting more. What are those two reoccurring reasons that can keep a reader glued to every page?:
1. Regularly introduced problems
Each chapter of your novel is like a short story. Or at least it should be. Each chapter should support the scene introduced on its own, while simultaneously moving the overall plot along.
With one challenge or problem that is dealt with, introduce a brand new problem right at the close of the same chapter. It doesn’t always have to be a major problem, but it should at least be a problem that is enough to frustrate or surprise the reader. I intentionally left nasty little cliffhangers which would leave the reader both intrigued and helplessly hooked in my debut novel The First Fallen.
Create unanswered questions which will plague your reader. No reader wants to toss and turn at night wondering what the heck is going to happen to your protagonist, or your beloved hero(s). They want to be satisfied by knowing the outcome – good or bad.
Make that “itch they can’t scratch” a constant feeling throughout your novel, and a pattern with every chapter. In this way, you are directly funneling your reader into your next chapter with the powerful tool of unresolved issues. So, leave your reader impatient to find out how the brand new problem will be solved and how it will affect the characters they have grown to care for or relate to. And with that being said, let’s hop straight to the next key method of reader-return.
2. Character-Reader Connections:
The second most important way to make your novel impossible to put down is with character-reader connections. What does that mean? It means creating characters that are both unique and relatable to your reader. It means creating a character the reader wants to spend more time with, much like a friend.
Readers want to connect with characters. They want to build their own relationship with them, mentally and emotionally. Readers view characters as potential life-long companions. If they love a character/characters enough, the reader will invest their time, patience, and emotional devotion to the character(s) in your story. YOU, the writer, has to make that experience not only possible but truly impossible for the reader to break free from.
Therefore, having characters face problems that induce relatable concerns helps readers connect. Even if your character is facing a fire-breathing dragon (something none of us has ever faced) make sure the character responds with either an honest, human emotion or an inspiring, break-the-mold decision (even if your character is not human!). No matter who or what your character is honest, relatable emotions or unique, inspiring responses create real reader connections. Make your reader want to either sympathize with, relate to, or be inspired by the character’s experience. And of course, it is equally as important to include moments when your reader will be frustrated or upset by a character’s decision. All of this is certain to create a very real relationship between reader and character. And, it is sure to make your reader want to know what happens in the end to your character – their friend.
So, remember those two reasons why you love your two favorite books? Well, I want to know what they are! Hearing from you helps me as a writer to make sure my stories are relatable from the most important perspective: the readers! So, go ahead and share on the comment section of my blog, I would love to hear the inspiring things you have to say! Thank you!