Finally! After all this time I now realize why it is so difficult to distinguish what sets page-turners apart from unquestionably great books.
There are five distinctive characteristics ALL page-turners I’ve read share. Hostage by Laurie Davies, Gift of a Lifetime by Sue Batton Leonard, Farewell, My Beijing by Chi Newman, Doing Germany by Agnieszka Paletta, I Didn't Ask to Be Born by Bill Cosby, The Big Belch by Kay Wood… just to call out a few… each share the following qualities.
1. Book Length. Shorter stories generally are easier to stay with. It’s the same as if someone walked up to you and said, “guess what,” and then proceeded to tell you a short gripping and or humorous story. Most of us would likely stay with the story, hanging on the storyteller's every word. On the other hand, if the narrator goes on and on, even if the story is the same gripping and or humorous, at some point you’ll need to take a bookmark break.
2. Small Books (dimension-wise that is) also have an advantage. They are aesthetically easier to curl up with.
3. Engaging Dialogue. Not much beats reading a good conversation. It’s like overhearing a big juicy piece of gossip. It’s hard to bookmark this type gossip.
Rather than call it great writing, I’ll call it 4. Likable Writing, since both are subjective. Likeable writing is writing that appeals to us, much like anything else; a lyrical voice that resonates, a scrumptious tasty meal, a delectable piece of eye-candy, the soft aromatic scent of a perfume, or a sensual touch that feels different depending on the hand.
5. An Outstanding Premise. Generally determining whether the premise is outstanding, or otherwise, doesn’t happen until the last page… the point where if all of the above has been met, then this book qualifies for the true page-turner badge of honor. (Wink...wink... check out those titles too. Welcoming titles that invite interest are almost always page-turners).
To be fair, not all of my books are page-turners. And to be fairer, since I share openly and frequently about the writings of others as if I’m ignoring my own, I put my published work to the test as well.
Assigning each of my books points relative to the prerequisites I discovered created the graph below.
Now that has to be a fair tribute for acknowledging Columbus Day!