Writing For Kids: 5 top tips for creating a page-turning story

I get very excited every time I receive a new post for the Writing For Kids series because I learn something new from every post.

They might be writing tips aimed at kids, but they’re actually brilliant for writers of any age. After all, these are writing tips from some of Australia’s top children’s authors!

This week, Sue Whiting is taking time out from launching her brand-new book – The Book Of Chance – to share her 5 best tips for creating a page-turning story. If you’ve ever read any of Sue’s work – from picture books, through middle-grade fiction, to YA stories – you’ll know that these are tips worth reading.

5 top tips for creating a page-turning story

Don’t you love a book that keeps you up late at night? Turning the pages quickly, heart pumping and eyes flying across the page? I certainly do.

When I write, this is what I’m aiming for too – a thrilling, page-turning story, full of nail-biting suspense. One to keep my readers up late at night to find out what is going to happen next.

So here are my top tips for creating these page-turning stories.

1.     MAKE YOUR READERS CARE

In order for readers to keep turning the pages and go on a story journey with your characters, readers must firstly CARE about them. Deeply.

They must worry for them. They must empathise with them. And the best way to achieve this is to show how your characters are FEELING and what they are THINKING.

These insights into the hearts and minds of your characters are all-important, if you want your readers to care.

2.     BE A MEANIE

Writing stories is the one time in your life when you get to be a big bad meanie.

In fact, if you want your readers to turn the pages, you HAVE to be MEAN. It is your DUTY as the boss of your story.

After all, stories are all about characters getting into trouble (and getting out of trouble). So YOU are responsible. It is up to you to create that trouble – big trouble – trouble that will make your readers fret and frown and twist their hands with worry.

So be MEAN to your characters and make their lives as DIFFICULT as possible.

3.     UP THE STAKES

As the boss of your story, it is important that you know what your characters want – to find a lost friend, to catch the bad guy, to discover the miracle cure etc.

It is also important that the CONSEQUENCES if your characters are unsuccessful are HUGE: DIRE, DISASTROUS, DEVASTATING.

So as well as being mean, you must make the STAKES HIGH. This will ensure a thrilling story, where your readers’ hearts will be pounding, and you will have them worrying all the more – and, yes, you guessed it, turning those pages quickly.

4.     SLOWLY DOES IT

This might sound contradictory. I don’t mean make your story slow; what I mean is that you should try to keep a few SECRETS and SURPRISES up your sleeve, a few unexpected TWISTS and TURNS that you REVEAL slowly throughout the story.

These unexpected twists and surprises slotted in at just the right moment, when your readers least expect them, will make them think, Uh-oh. I didn’t see that coming. I need to read the next chapter now!

5.     PUT THE TRUTH INTO YOUR LIE

Telling stories is very similar to telling lies. And the best way to tell a lie is to make sure it is as close as possible to the truth.

The same goes for stories.

If you want your readers to keep turning those pages, then you need to make your story CONVINCING. And the way to achieve that is to pepper in as much TRUTH – specific details, authentic emotions – as you can in order to make your story, no matter how fantastical, CREDIBLE and BELIEVABLE.

This is a sure way to hook your readers and to keep them reading.

Happy writing everyone!

Sue Whiting has written many books in a variety of genres: fiction and nonfiction, picture books through to YA. Her latest book is The Book Of Chance, for middle-grade readers, out now through Walker Books Australia.

More writing tips for kids

How To Write Funny Stories

How To Create Remarkable Characters

Write What You Love

Are you new here? Welcome to my blog! I’m Allison Tait, aka A.L. Tait, and I’m the author of two epic middle-grade adventure series, The Mapmaker Chronicles and The Ateban Cipher.

You can find out more about me here, and more about my books here.

If you’d love more writing advice for kids, check out my Online Creative Writing Quest For Kids