In yesterday’s prompt we talked (at length-and no I won’t apologize) about dialogue tags.
Today, I want to switch things up a bit and cover another little secret of mine. This time it deals with scene transitions.
If you missed my last trick, the Denouement Spike, you can find it here. I also covered the Pre-Inciting Subplot, which you can read about here.
With these two writing hacks in your arsenal, you are well prepared to draw the reader into the story quickly AND keep them guessing long after the resolution.
The problem, though, is that there is a lot of book in between these two parts. So how do you keep your readers reading?
Well, a well written and thought-provoking story are crucial. There is one thing you can add, though. You see, I’ve continuously harped that you need to get your readers involved.
You also need to keep the readers interested. But, did you know there is one thing you can control that will make your audience unable to put your book down?
It’s true! It is so simple, too. You just gotta remember one thing:
Give your readers questions that they have to have the answer to. For those in the writing course, you already know this.
For the rest of you, I will cover it briefly here. Though you can sign up for the course to get all the juicy details, reasons behind it and the psychology involved.
The trick is in the scene transitions. When you move from one area to another. This usually happens at the end of a chapter, which makes it perfect!
People want to put a bookmark in and go to bed or feed the kids at the end of the current chapter. If you throw in a question they have to have answered, though, those kids are gonna starve (and the reader will sing your praises for it).
Let’s look at the prompt now.
Write the last two paragraphs of a scene and include a question that won’t be answered until later.
Now, to understand this, you need to know what I mean by “question.” Obviously this is something that requires an answer. But you aren’t directly asking the question.
Instead, the reader is asking themselves the question. For example, if Jeff is surfing at the end of your chapter and right before the chapter ends, a shark fin appears behind him, that poses a question.
Will Jeff get eaten by a shark? Why is there a fin in the surfing simulator?
When you force the reader to ask questions, they want the answer as soon as possible. The longer you can draw it out (or the more critical the question is) the longer they will stay reading to find the answer.
So set the ball on the tee, give the reader a bat and let them swing, but don’t let them know if they made contact with the ball. Not yet. Make them wonder.
Make them curious and ponder all the possibilities, before you finally reveal what happens and answer their questions for them.
Do it well enough, often enough and your readers are hooked through the entire book, unable to put it down. Those poor, hungry kids.