When I have time to watch television, one of my favorite shows is Home Makeover. They select a family or a person with a desperate need for a more functional space. Each family member is interviewed, and then the workers set out to make their dreams come true.
Part of the fun includes sending the family off on a vacation. The host contacts them a few times and feeds them small progress reports. The many special surprises and meaningful touches on the house are reserved for the big reveal at the end of the show.
These folks know how to tell a compelling story. Our stories can achieve the same effect by:
1) Raising questions in the reader's mind.
2) Resisting the urge to tell the character's history in the first 30-60 pages.
3) Revealing backstory in bite-sized pieces rather than expecting the reader to swallow the character's motivations like an entire steak.
By the end of our book, the reader will be looking forward to "the big reveal" and anticipating our next adventure.
Writers: How do you keep the reader engaged in your story world?
Readers: What keeps you turning the pages?
Photo Credit: sundesigns