What’s Lust Got to do with it?
When asked what makes a compelling story, Hitchcock said “it’s life, with the dull parts taken out.”
When I was teenager I stole a book. I was in the Boston Public library and happened to wander into a room where the Friends of the Library book sale was taking place. I picked up a paperback that looked interesting and started to read it. It was so good…I couldn't put it down. I just had to finish it. The problem was I didn't have the fifty cents to buy it and the library was about to close. So (like the stupid teenager I was), I stole it.
With my heart pounding I slipped it into my bag, took it home and snuck it into my bedroom praying the library police wouldn’t show up and sentence me to a life of indexing reference books. But please don't tell, as it was years ago and I couldn't begin to pay back any fine that might have accrued. For those of you that are concerned I have changed my ways and no longer live a life of crime. Besides I have paid back society in a most fitting manner, I have become a writer.
Anyhow, I read all night and into the early morning until I finished the book – it was that good.
That’s what you want to create in your writing. Well, you don't want people to steal your books but you do want them to lust after them. Yes, I said the L word. You want to create a story that people can’t stop reading and hopefully buy it.
How do you do that?
Well, first ask yourself this question: Why do you stop reading a book? If you’re like me, you probably get bored, with a big capital B!
So whats the number one rule to making your book lusty? Put your character(s) in crisis. I once heard Lemony Snicket (creator of “A Series of Unfortunate Events” basically horror for children) interviewed on NPR. When asked what his formula for success was, he replied, “I take orphans and make horrible things happen to them.” In other words, he puts them in crisis.
Having your character(s) in crisis is what makes your reader want to keep reading, a.k.a. a page turner.
I want to share with you one of the best pieces of advice I ever got for mapping out your story.
Before you start writing, brainstorm and come up with a list of ten bad things that can happen to your main character. Next, put them in descending order so things just keep getting worse for your protagonist, In other words, keep raising the stakes.
Guess what? You just came up with an outline for your book. Follow this up with a great opening line. Now you’ve hooked your reader! Keep going, don't let up and you’re on your way to writing a story that readers will lust after. If you do all this, I will make this pledge to you: when I come across your book; I promise I will not to steal it. Nope, I will pull out my hard-earned cash because I'm dying to find out what happens next.