We all know that thrillers and other fast-paced popular fiction need lots of tension, suspense, and intrigue to keep readers riveted to the story. But so do all the other genres, to varying degrees. No matter what type of fiction you write, it’s all about hooking your readers in, engaging them emotionally, and keeping their interest to the end.
Tension, conflict, and complications are what drive all fiction forward and keep readers engrossed.
A happy scene is a boring scene. If the character has no cares or the problem is minor or easily solved, readers will lose interest and look for another book. And intrigue is what piques readers’ curiosity and keeps them turning the pages of your story, no matter what the genre. And of course, you’ll need to ratchet up the tension and suspense a lot more if you’re writing a fast-paced, nail-biting page-turner. Go through your manuscript with the list below to see if there are some ways you and amp up your story to make it more engaging.
First, make your readers care about your protagonist by creating a likeable, appealing, strong, smart, and resourceful—but vulnerable—character, with some inner conflict, regrets, and secrets. If readers haven’t bonded with your character, they won’t care what happens to him.
Get up close and personal. Use deep point of view (first-person or close third person) to get us into the mind, body, and emotions of your main character right away. This makes readers care about the character and worry about her. A worried reader is an engaged reader.
Challenge your protagonist. Now that your readers care about your main character, insert a major threat, challenge, or dilemma within the first chapter or two that won’t be resolved until the end. Create an over-riding sentence about this to keep in mind as you’re writing your story:
“Will (name) survive/stop/find/overcome (ordeal/person/difficulty/threat) on time?”
For the rest of this article, go to my guest blog post up at Fiction University today. See you over there!
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