Writing a Page Turner with Lois Winston
I first met today’s blog guest when we were both writing for Dorchester. We’ve each gone on to other publishers since then, but have always kept in touch. Lois Winston writes inventive cozy mysteries and I know you’ll enjoy the peek behind the writer’s veil she’s offering.
Thought I’d also share that Fresh Fiction has just posted a unique review of Sins of the Highlander. Usually, reviewers key in on my hero, Rob MacLaren. The FreshFiction folks have zeroed in on Elspeth Stewart instead. That makes me happy. My goal is always to write a heroine whose shoes my readers want to wear. Sounds like I have. Here’s the link to the FreshFiction review.
from Lois Winston…
It happened again just the other day. I had picked up the latest book by one of my favorite authors and started reading. Then at the end of Chapter 5, I closed the book. Not permanently. I did plan to continue reading at some point, but I closed the book all the same. I turned off the lights, and I went to sleep. Why? Because the author had given me permission to do so by having her protagonist go to bed.
I believe in few rules when it comes to writing because for every “rule” there’s someone who has broken it and gone on to become a bestselling author. However, there is one rule I believe should never be broken: Never, ever end your chapter with your characters going to sleep. Writers should never give readers a reason to set their book aside and turn off the lights. By allowing the character to go to sleep, the author allows the reader to do the same. Writers should strive to keep their readers hooked and reading until they’re propping their eyelids open with toothpicks because they HAVE to know what happens next, and there’s no way they’re going to be able to sleep until they find out.
Just as a book can open in the middle of the action, a chapter can end in much the same way — in the middle of a conversation or the middle of a scene, picking up in the next chapter or even several chapters ahead. This is a plot devise often used with great success in thrillers, mysteries, and suspense books, and it’s one that will keep readers turning pages to find out what happens next, no matter the genre.
The others grunted in agreement as I bowed my head over the pink sheet of paper. “Oh. My. God.”
Or so I thought until Monday morning when I arrived back at the studio to find the proverbial caca had hit the proverbial fan.
Just as I finished reading the short note, the front door flew open.
As every teenage girl knows, shoeboxes make for ideal hiding places. A small step-stool stood in the middle of the walk-in closet. I pulled it over, climbed up, and reached for the highest box, one with a Bottega Veneta label. But when I lifted the lid, I didn’t find a pair of Bottega Veneta shoes. Instead, I found Monica’s secret.
The examples above are the endings of four different chapters in Death By Killer Mop Doll. Each one leaves the reader not knowing what happens next. My hope is that no reader will be able to close the book upon coming to the end of those or any other chapters. My goal with the end of each chapter is to make the reader have to turn the page to find out what happens next.
Don’t you just hate when an author keeps you up all night because you have to keep reading to find out what happens next? Post a comment, and you could win one of 5 signed copies of Death By Killer Mop Doll I’m giving away as part of my blog tour this month. The full tour schedule can be found at my website, http://www.loiswinston.com, and the Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers blog, http://www.anastasiapollack.blogspot.com. In addition, I’m giving away 3 copies of Death By Killer Mop Doll on Goodreads, http://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/15173-death-by-killer-mop-doll
Also, for anyone attending The American Library Association’s Mid-Winter conference January 20-24 in Dallas, Midnight Ink will be raffling off the hand-crafted mop doll shown in the photo (I’m the one who looks like she’s suffering from a cold) during the opening reception Friday evening. Register for the drawing at the Midnight Ink booth #1459.
BIO: Lois Winston is the author of the critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries published by Midnight Ink. Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun, the first book in the series, received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Booklist and has been nominated for a Readers Choice Award by the Salt Lake City Library System. The new year brings with it the release of Death By Killer Mop Doll, the second book in the series. Read an excerpt at http://www.loiswinston.com/excerptap2.html. Visit Lois at her website: http://www.loiswinston.com and Anastasia at the Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers blog: http://www.anastasiapollack.blogspot.com. You can also follow Lois and Anastasia on Twitter @anasleuth.
Wow, Lois. Those were some terrific end of chapter hooks! Thanks so much for sharing.
Now it’s your turn to share. Leave a comment or question for Lois so you’ll be entered in the drawing for her Death by Killer Mop Doll. Just for grins, why not pick up the book you’re reading now and share one of the end of chapter sentences? Does it make you want to keep turning pages?