P. S. Hoffman's Writing Blog

How to Make Every Chapter an Irresistible “Page Turner.”

Short post, (because I’m kicking NaNoWriMo’s ass).

Let’s say, you just wrote a chapter.

You worked hard on it. You followed the outline. You’re pretty sure it’s the greatest thing anyone has ever written.

Until, a week later, you re-read it ...

...it’s a boring, drivel-ly, snot-filled MESS.

When did this Chapter get so boring?

There is a fix. This technique will instantly make all your chapters irresistible page turners, and readers will glue themselves to your book:

Ask Yourself This Before Writing Every Single Chapter:

“What question are my readers reading for? What question do they want answered?”

Humans want to know things. You need to exploit that by feeding them curiosity.

If you can insert a single burning question that your readers MUST KNOW into your chapters, nobody will be able to put your book down.

As a bonus, as you write, a good question will drive the plot forward for you. The book will practically write itself (well, not literally, unless... you stole some wizard's enchanted keyboard).

An example:

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

Each chapter either adds another question, or it further mystifies a question we already want to unravel:

  • Who is petrifying people?
  • Whose blood is painted on the walls?
  • Who is this Tom Marvolo Riddle, and how did he enchant this diary?
  • When will someone punch this Lockhart guy in the mouth?!
Kenneth_Branagh_as_Gilderoy-Lockhart_(6).jpg
Five times winner of Witch Weekly's Most Charming Smile Award, etc. etc.

Don’t add too many questions too fast. Your readers will get confused. Or they will feel like you are leading them on.

Either way, your readers will drop (out of your book) faster than muggle-borns at a Slytherin pride rally.

Vary the pacing of your answers - some questions will be answered in the next chapter, some answers will wait until the end of your book.

Better yet, you can leave some open for your NEXT book in the series.

What are you still doing here? Go write some un-quittable chapters!


Oh, still here? OK, talk to me!

Look at your most recent scene. What question do you want your readers to ask about this scene? Tell me about it now in the comments below.

Featured image from Jim Kay's illustrations of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

9 comments on “How to Make Every Chapter an Irresistible “Page Turner.””

  1. Thanks, I needed this today. drivel-ly and snot-filled pretty much sums up the recent expansion I inflicted upon my opening chapter.

    With this post, you made the world a better place!

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P. S. Hoffman
About P. S. Hoffman
P. S. Hoffman writes Science Fiction and Fantasy. He is obsessed with all things futuristic, primarily Artificial Intelligence and the transformation of societies. Here, he shows others how to sharpen their fiction-writing skills by dissecting the techniques used by the world's best authors.

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