Brin Jackson, Fantasy writer & daydreamer

The journey of writing, craft, and of connection.

What makes a book a page turner?


I’m in the re-write stage of my novel and one question which I ask myself is this:

“What keeps me turning pages when I should have switched of the bedside lamp long ago?”

These are the things which come to mind:

1.     Great characters with compelling stories.

2.     New, descriptive, and intriguing landscapes.

3.     The possibility of new creatures.

4.     An exciting use of magic or magical creatures.

5.     Humor thrown in along with the dastardly serious, life-threatening heroes quest.

6.     Pacing.

So, if I transpose the above criteria to my writing, the question I ask is, “Am I falling short, and if so, how and where?”

– I believe I have great characters (don’t we all!), that are unique to their world. So, if that’s the case, then am I making my characters approachable, compelling/interesting on many levels and are they likeable/despicable – do I feel drawn to them, and to their stories? Do I want to know more about them and what happens to them while they journey? Have I shown why my character is happy/angry etc. instead of what my character is doing because they are happy/angry etc.? Has my character grown/learned between the first and last page?

– I have a number of races in my world, along with humans. Am I explaining why they are important to my story, what role(s) they play. Do I need them?

– There are also a variety of unique indigenous and transplanted species. Like the races of my world, do I need to introduce them, are they an integral part of my story, or are they just filler?

– This is a magical world. Am I describing how this magic works so everyone can visualize it in action? Who has magic, and why, and are their magical abilities different or the same?

– What makes my world different than any other world? Have I done my world-building homework?

– Am I interjecting humor? Eek! Um, er, well, hm. Guess that speaks for itself!

– And, pacing. Is my writing moving along at a nice clip. Is there enough tension to push it forward?

I deleted yesterday’s post on “My writing”. I had ground to a halt, uncertain if I had met the above criteria. I think it’s important to stop and question where I’m going in the writing process from time to time, and make sure that I’m still on the right track.

How is your writing coming along. What do you do to ensure you’re staying on track? Or, do you ask that before you launch into your next rewrite?


Author: brindle808

I'm old enough to know better, and young enough to want to learn. I am a reflexologist, fantasy writer and daydreamer.

2 thoughts on “What makes a book a page turner?

  1. Great post and your summary of the things writers have to think about highlights the complexities of writing. My first draft was my greatest joy as I could just discover characters and places and motives etc. When I went back to do the 2nd draft I edited so much away for all the reasons you have highlighted. Does the character, the location, the action etc add to the journey. If not – cut. And that was hard. I would have taken out almost 50,000 words and ended up with a much tighter 100,000 word novel. at first I felt that I had wasted so much precious writing time and then I realised that’s just how I have to do it. We are all different. But if I hadn’t let my characters meander around for a while we wouldn’t have been able to work out where to go and exactly what we were going to do when we got there. So be ruthless and the great parts of your story will be even stronger.

  2. Thanks for your comment Chrissi!

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