I’d like to share a few things I learned from Ilima Todd’s “Writing the Unputdownable Story” lecture from WIFYR last month.
An unputdownable story will have a character you want to follow. He or she doesn’t have to be likeable, but s/he should be relatable, have a complex personality, have faults, and go through some kind of growth.
S/he needs to have a need. A concrete need. As the author you have to make sure s/he doesn’t get it and make it more and more difficult to get as the story progresses. At the end, s/he either gets it or learns that s/he doesn’t need it anymore.
Another element to keep readers reading is tension. Each scene should have conflict, internal or external or both. Let things go wrong for your character. Have characters with conflicting goals, where both can’t win. Or give your characters’ actions unintended consequences.
Stakes. This is an area I was falling short in with my recent drafts. What happens if your character doesn’t acheive his or her goals? There need to be stakes, which should rise throughout the story and series.
These were the big things I took from her lecture. I hope they’re helpful to you.
I’m putting my fingers where my mouth is (yum?) and doing another 10,000 word Camp Nanowrimo this month.