HOW TO WRITE A PAGE TURNER

HOW TO WRITE A PAGE TURNER (edited and updated version 6-16-14) Recently, I downloaded a copy of Thread of Hope by Jeff Shelby. As I read the novel, I realized that this is definitely a page-turner. The character returns to the town where his daughter disappeared even though he hates being there because so many triggers remind him of her kidnapping. Even looking at his ex-wife is painful because his wife and daughter look so much alike. He comes back, however, in order to help an old friend who has been accused of a crime and is unconscious in the hospital. The reader can admire Joe Tyler because he forces himself to endure the agony of his memories in order to help his pal. As I read I realized that I rarely stopped at the end of a chapter, so I began to analyze the endings to see what made me continue reading. Here are the endings of some of the chapters. I shortened the list because the book has eighty chapters.

“All I know is that he told her you would know what to do.”

She raised an eyebrow. “They already know you’re back.”

As I gazed at the now gray-looking buildings across the bay, murky behind the fog, I felt no promise. No excitement. No hope.

I stared out that hotel window and I could feel all of it bearing down on me, with no clue how to stop it.

“You go near my daughter, they won’t take you away in an ambulance. It’ll be in a hearse.”

“I’m sorry. I swear to God. I’m sorry.”

A humorless smile took residence on his face and he chuckled quietly, tapping his fingers on the desk.
“So you did come to fight with me.”

“Alright,” I said. “Tell your wife I’ll be at your home to speak to her at nine tomorrow morning. Alone.”

“That’s how I know that something has happened to her.”

“Eight tonight,” he reiterated. “I hope you have some information for me.” I was hoping the same thing.

So I brought up something else that I knew was going to piss him off.

I did think he would’ve noticed that. And that was the problem I was trying to rectify.

“I’ll tell you something about the Jordan family that you don’t know.”

Secrets don’t stay buried. They just wait to be dug up.

But then she abruptly turned and her fist slammed against the door as she disappeared into the locker room.

But after ten minutes, I was tired of waiting and stuck my head into the locker room. A locker room that was already empty.

The situation crystallized for me. And he produced a gun.

Her eyes focused and she finally looked at me. “In case I had to shoot you.”

Each of these sentences could have occurred in the middle of the chapter, but Shelby wisely chose to stop at a point where the reader would want to keep reading. Add a protagonist who is going through a hell of his own while he is trying to help a friend by solving a mystery, and we have the proverbial page-turner. Good job, Jeff Shelby.

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Five Reasons I Hate Facebook

5. It is too enticing, like a siren’s song. I love following my friends, family, and fellow writers. I can easily spend all day returning to it over and over.

It’s too much like the time I made a pecan pie one day. My husband and I each had a piece for dessert. The next evening after dinner, he said, “I’d like another piece of pie.” I hung my head and said, “There isn’t any more.” I started nibbling on the pie in the morning, left a fork in the pan, and kept returning to eat a little bit more all day. Facebook is like that pie.

4. Facebook makes me cry. I am a big softie, and I can cry at almost anything. One day, I was passing through the TV room, and someone was dying on the screen. I started crying as I walked. My daughter said, “Mom, that’s Al Capone.”

“I can’t help it,” I said.

“He’s dyyyying.” I told you I am a softie.

3. Facebook has lots of political lies, such as when a posting made the rounds that said President Obama had the flags across the nation put at half-staff after the death of Whitney Houston. Actually, it was Republican Governor Chris Christie who made that announcement for his state alone. I wonder how many people never learned the truth. I have even been guilty of reposting something I thought was true, only to have Snopes tell me I was wrong. Heavy sigh.

2. Every time I see a recipe, I want to try it. If I see someone’s enticing meal in full color, my mouth waters and I want to head for the kitchen. I think Facebook is bad for my diet.

1. Facebook is ruining (or may have already ruined) one of the old, useful rules for punctuating titles. Once upon a time, we English teachers taught that titles of short works (short stories, short poems, chapter titles) should have quotation marks (“The Trouble with Tribbles,”) and titles of longer works (novels, epic poems, series) should be underlined or italicized (Star Trek).

Since Facebook does not allow underlining or italics, however, people could only use all caps for titles of longer works. Some writers on FB used all caps for a while, which makes sense because we are supposed to use all caps for our novel titles when we submit a query letter to an agent. Other writers just omitted any punctuation at all for titles on Facebook, perhaps because we associate all caps with shouting.

That would not have been so bad, but then authors (AUTHORS!) stopped using any punctuation for titles on their own blogs, even though those sites allowed them to use italics or underlining. I wish I could convince everyone to use single quotation for novel titles on Facebook, but—alas—I am only one person. So I sigh whenever I see a title with no punctuation.

We can’t even tell whether we are looking at one or two novels when we see a sentence like this: I enjoyed reading Basted and Tasted. If we used single quotation marks, we could write: I enjoyed reading ‘Basted’ and ‘Tasted,’ or I enjoyed reading ‘Basted and Tasted.’ I know I won’t win this battle, so I merely move on and sigh dramatically.

I hate Facebook. It is the reason I have not finished my novel or my memoir.

I think I will just go see what my friends on FB are doing right now. They’ll understand my pain.

Bye. Sigh.

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SAN ANTONIO AREA WRITERS’ FREE WORKSHOPS AND CRITIQUES

Since we have changed our meeting place, please go to the official site for the San Antonio Writers’ Guild and see the workshops and meetings that are offered.

http://www.sawritersguild.org

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Free Writers Weekend Workshop

Since we have changed our meeting place, please go to the official site for the San Antonio Writers’ Guild and see the workshops and meetings that are offered.

http://www.sawritersguild.org

IF YOU CLICK THE “FOLLOW ME” BUTTON ON THIS SITE AND PROVIDE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS, YOU WILL BE ENTERED IN A DRAWING FOR A $25 GIFT CARD TO AMAZON.COM. WINNERS WILL BE ANNOUNCED ON THE FIRST OF EVERY MONTH.