How to keep a reader engaged

Recently, I started reading The Memory of Water by Karen White. It is a very enjoyable book, and as I tried to analyze why, I realized the author has a way of withholding information from the reader by making the characters hush it up.

Her characters in this book have secrets. Lots of them. And they keep them from each other, sometimes to protect the innocent, and most times to keep their sanity. And they keep them from the reader as well.The beauty of doing this becomes a cat and mouse game for the reader. You simply keep turning pages to find out what the secret or secrets are.

The keeping info from the reader is a fine line to walk as a writer. You should always keep the info from a character to keep the reader interested, but don’t make the reader feel left out for no reason. We have to feel like we are just as the character is–unveiling things at the same time. Otherwise we feel cheated and that is never a good thing.

From this I have learned how to keep readers turning pages–how to keep them engaged in the book. Please feel free to use this as a reminder to you as you write your novel. We cannot be reminded enough to keep our reader in mind as we write!

Three things to keep readers engaged

1. Make the characters flawed and interesting
If the characters are flawed and interesting and have motivations (even if we as the reader are not allowed to see them yet) then a reader will continue reading to find out what makes them tick.

2. Make the situations in the story full of meaning
It is pretty obvious that the reasons characters are flawed and carrying around secrets is because of something, event, or situation, that has affected them in some way and most often negatively. This burden of an event on their lives is what is making the secret and keeping it so good.

3. Fill out the scenery and make it mean something
I love a book rich with description and setting. As many people who follow me know this is one thing I strive to do in each story of mine because I feel it is that important. If you use description and setting as a tool to bring out the color of the secretive event etc. you will evoke an emotional response from the reader.

And as we all know, that is why the story matters. We want our readers to react. And if you do this well enough, they will. It is the best of all worlds when a reader says they couldn’t put it down until they knew what happened. We must keep them turning pages!

Please feel free to post you techniques in making readers stay glued to the page. And if you are a reader, what do you think is the tool for this? What keeps you in the book and turning pages?

About master

Kim Smith is the author of Disk of Death, The Dread Room, Love Inn, and An Unexpected Performance.

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