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And yet, I whipped through its 318 pages like nobody's business and loved every moment of it. So it got me thinking: what really makes readers keep reading?
Because sure, cliffhangers and gun fights and epic magical battles and action-packed pages can definitely keep a reader hooked, but there are underlying threads deeper than that keep us turning pages in a book. That make it impossible not to continue reading.
Some Underlying Threads:
- Make the readers care about the characters. This is a must. What's the point of reading to find out what happens to a character if it doesn't matter? (Answer: there is no point, so they won't read any further). Whether it's a voice that's impossible to ignore, or situations that make your protagonist sympathetic, or an endearing personality or all three, the readers have to care about the characters.
- Keep the reader guessing. Will Katniss and Peeta survive The Hunger Games? Will Harry ever get to go to wizarding school? Will Hazel and Augustus ever find out what happens after An Imperial Affliction ? Although this is pretty directly tied to the last point, we need to keep the readers (and the characters) asking questions throughout the book. As soon as all of the questions are answered and choices are made, there are few reasons to continue reading.
- Tension. I wrote an entire post on tension, so I'm not going to rehash the whole thing, but in short no tension = no reason to keep reading = book that doesn't get read.
There are other underlying threads, I'm sure, but these three are really what have stood out to me as I continue to read some truly fantastic books. And what better way to learn how to improve your writing than reading a great book?
Have you read any un-put-downable books lately? What makes you keep reading?