How to Write a Page Turner by Elaine Cantrell

I want to thank all of you who dropped by for yesterday’s Birthday Bash. Thank you all for sharing in my special day! The winner of yesterday’s Gift Card giveaway is CrystalGB! LOL – Crystal you have amazing luck. Please e-mail me at cpsromance at att dot net with your mailing address so I can send the card.

Today we’ve got a special visit from fellow author Elaine Cantrell who is going to be sharing her tips on creating a page turner. Thank you so much for dropping by Elaine!

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A NEW DREAMI don’t know of an author anywhere who wouldn’t like for readers to say that his or her book is a page turner. Everyone knows what is meant by the term; it’s a story you can’t stop reading. You know you have to get up in the morning, but you don’t care because you absolutely have to find out what happens. I love it when I find a book like that.

But what makes the book a page turner? What has to be in it for me to lose sleep just to read it? I’ve analyzed this thing, and this is what appeals to me. First, the book has to use proper grammar and punctuation. It turns me off and feels jarring when subjects and verbs don’t agree, there’s a run-on sentence, etc. Naturally, there are exceptions to this rule. Characters can massacre the English language all they like, but I have to have the feeling that the author is doing it on purpose and not that he/she doesn’t know any better.

Second, you’d better have a good hook if you want me to read the book. I don’t have time to waste on books that don’t interest me. In my latest release, A New Dream, which is coming out today at, I begin the book with a car crash:

    “Oh, Matt, it’s such a beautiful night,” Stacey declared with a sigh. “I’m going to miss you when you leave tomorrow.”

    Matt reached for her hand and brought it to his lips. “I’ll miss you too, but if I don’t report on time, I’m in trouble with the coach.”

    “That’s what I get for falling in love with a pro football player,” Stacey teased, her blonde hair turned to frosted silver by the light of the full moon above them.

    Matt squeezed her hand that wore his engagement ring. “It’s too late to back out now,” he teased. “You’re mine.”

    “Mmm, do I like the sound of that!”

    The car rounded a curve, and without warning a deer bounded across the road. “Look out,” Stacey screamed.

    Matt braked sharply to avoid the animal. The tires slid on a patch of loose gravel in the road, and he lost control of the convertible. It fishtailed and started to spin in the road.

    He hauled on the steering wheel to correct the slide, but it was useless. The car turned around once more and skidded backwards for a short distance before it charged off the road. It jumped a steep ditch and went airborne. All Matt could see was a blur of trees and darkness as the car careened into the woods. It made a lazy turn in the air and came to rest bottom side up.

    The last thing he remembered was the sound of Stacey’s scream.

Okay, several questions immediately come to mind. Are Matt and Stacey okay? Do both of them survive the crash? Will the accident affect Matt’s pro-football career? Could his relationship with Stacey be changed in some way?

Third, the main characters must be dynamic and sympathetic. I have to like them and want things to work out for them. I recently read a book by a famous author, but I didn’t like it because the heroine just wasn’t a nice person. She made her living preying on grieving widowers and let her young daughter help her. It was hard to care what happened to her. The characters don’t have to be syrupy good, though. In A NEW DREAM, my heroine Violet is unforgiving when a loose thread from Matt’s past comes back to haunt him. She hurts Matt and jeopardizes their relationship with her doubts and suspicion.

Fourth, there must be some suspense involved. But I don’t read suspense, you say. You still need suspense. Readers should be biting their fingernails worrying about the outcome of the book. Will the heroine win the hero’s heart in spite of a dreadful accident which left her scarred and reclusive? Will the hero defuse the bomb in time? Will he believe the bad girl’s lies? Will she accept his child from a previous relationship? Well, you get the idea.

Lastly, the pacing is important. If it goes too slowly I lose interest. I like a face paced story myself, and that’s what I write. I’ve been accused of setting a blistering pace which is absolutely true. Okay, maybe I need to slow down a bit. Maybe I could throw in a few sensory images. Okay, you do need some sensory images, but like my friend recently said, “I just skip that part to get to the good stuff.”

Okay, I’ve given you my definition of a page turner. Do you agree with me? What’s your definition? If you’re interested in my work you can check it out at  Hope to see you there.

2 thoughts on “How to Write a Page Turner by Elaine Cantrell”

  1. I like your definition of a page turner. I really think pacing is so key. But beyond pacing is how smooth the writing is. For instance, are the transitions clear and logical? Are the scenes and timing logical? If I have to try to figure what the heck the author is talking about, I just lose interest!

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