Making Your Book Unputdownable

A patient complains to his psychiatrist: “Nobody pays any attention to me.”

The psychiatrist says: “Next.”

The desire to hear, tell and read stories is part of what makes us human. Stories explain the inexplicable. They help us to learn, grow, come to terms with life and ourselves, and to escape from our problems by transporting us to places where only stories can take us.

A critic named Moses Hadas once said of a book: “Once you put it down, you can’t pick it up.” If you want agents and editors to pay attention to you, write a book they can’t put down (pun intended). They are perpetual optimists, always hoping that the next manuscript they pick up will be unputdownable.

What makes a novel or narrative nonfiction book impossible to put down?

  • A fast-paced plot that keeps you turning the pages to find out what happens next
  • Characters you care about so much about that you have to find out what happens to them
  • Settings so inviting and vividly described you don’t want to leave them
  • An action-packed or life-changing opening that forces readers to keep reading by making them want to know what happens next
  • The use of telling details to make people, places and situations come alive
  • Interesting information about real events, people, places and cultures 
  • Surprises
  • An effective blend of people, setting and story
  • Each scene starting as late as possible
  • A literary or commercial style that is an irresistible pleasure to read
  • An ending that is like the perfect dessert at the end of a great meal

Do you know where you can always find authors who write books like this consistently? On bestseller lists! Ready to join them? Write a page-turner. If you can keep your readers turning the pages, it doesn’t make any difference what you write about.

Agents, editors and readers are always eager to discover new writers, and they will be delighted to help you attain the fame and fortune you want.

Go for it!

I’d be glad to add to the list if there is anything else that makes books unputdownable.


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