Writing a Page Turner – Part 4

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Most of the early readers of Post Traumatic Stress have called it a real page turner. Page turners are good. They’re fun to read. It’s a great complement from your readers.

But most of all, page turners sell.

People enjoy books that they don’t want to put down. And – here’s the real magic – page turners make them want to buy the sequel, too. This is how binge readers are born, and binge readers are where the money is.

One thing to keep in mind is that no one of these techniques is essential. You can write page turning novels by breaking any (and maybe even all) of these “rules.” This is just one approach, but it’s an approach that works pretty well.

Believe it or not, the “page turner” aspect of Post Traumatic Stress is mostly intentional. It’s technique that you can learn, and today I want to teach some of that to you.

I’ve already mentioned that chapters are a key element of page turners, and shown two different techniques that you can use to make your chapters more captivating. I’ve also talked about story structure and how it relates to page turners. Today I want to share my final – and best – secret.

Secret #4 – Learn the Art of Verbal Storytelling

You became a writer because you’re an introvert, I get it. Get over it. If you really want to learn how to get people hanging on what you write, learn the old fashioned kind of storytelling: the verbal kind.

Verbal storytelling is a different beast than writing. It’s baser and more primal. Your average person is not a reader (the average American reads less than one book per year). Most people don’t have the patience for it. When you’re telling stories verbally, you’re fighting non-readers and their attention span. Readers are far more forgiving.

On the other hand, you have a lot of tools at your disposal that you don’t have when writing. Body language, tone of voice, cadence, pitch, and rhythm all play into verbal storytelling. If you fail on those scores, you’ll lose your listeners just as surely as if you fail to tell a good story. But those things don’t translate into writing.

Or do they?

I argue that they do, if imperfectly, and here’s one example.

If you’re telling a suspenseful story, verbally, you want to keep building the tension. How do you keep building the tension? You withhold as much information as possible while still keeping the story moving. Great – this is a standard storytelling technique, right? Except verbal storytellers quickly learn that this technique applies at the micro level, not just the macro level. You learn to slow down sentences when you want to build tension, then to speed them back up when you want the release. You learn the value of a well timed pause. You learn the value of subtle emphasis on one particular word. You learn to end a sentence on one word instead of another – and then to let that word hang out there.

All of those skills translate directly into writing.

Bonus tip: One other nice thing about verbal storytelling is that you get immediate feedback from your audience. If something is working, you know it right away. Likewise if something doesn’t work. It’s excellent because it lets you fine tune things far faster than writing does.


Russell Newquist

My name is Russell Newquist. I am a software engineer, a martial artist, an author, an editor, a businessman and a blogger. I have a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy and a Master of Science degree in Computer Science, but I'm technically a high school dropout. I also think that everything in this paragraph is pretty close to meaningless. I work for a really great small company in Huntsville, Alabama building really cool software. I'm the owner and head instructor of Madison Martial Arts Academy, which I opened in 2013 less to make money and more because I just really enjoy a good martial arts workout with friends. I'm the editor in chief of Silver Empire and also one of the published authors there. And, of course, there is this blog - and all of its predecessors. There's no particular reason you should trust anything I say any more than any other source. So read it, read other stuff, and think for your damn self - if our society hasn't yet over-educated you to the point that you've forgotten how.

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