You know what I really love about a good book? What makes me turn page after page after page and has me stay up until the ungodly hour of, let's say 10am? (I'm on an overnight schedule, so 10am is ungodly for me. Really, stop laughing ;)) - It's that moment when an author manages to utterly fuck with your reader expectation and you literally go: What the FUCK?! On NO, you did NOT! That moment that will have me and my friends go all kinds of WTF?!? NOOOO!!! all over twitter or facebook or startled cats wondering if their bipeds finally lost the last of their marbles.
That, to me personally, is what makes a book unputdownable, what makes your readers going and what to me is the one thing I probably strive the hardest for in my own writing.
And the way to get there? Three questions, really:
1.) What is the worst thing that can possibly happen to your protagonist?
2.) How can you make this even worse?
3.) How can you make this even WORSE?
For those of you who were with me at this year's Backspace Writer's Conference or have been in one of his classes, you probably caught that I'm borrowing this from Donald Maass' fabulous writing workshop, but personally I find that there's a lot of truth to these questions and that questions like this is probably would we should be asking ourselves (and our protagonists) all the time as we plot and outline and write to utterly and undeniably fuck with our characters and our readers' expectations. Because, come on, admit it, it's a whole lot of fun to mess with people's expectations, isn't it?
Also, the book that kept me up like this just this morning was Sarah Rees Brennan's THE DEMON'S SURRENDER, third book and brilliant conclusion to her amazing The Demon's Lexicon trilogy. If you're looking for a YA series that ties in great characters with stunning plot twists in an absolutely unique way that will keep you up 'till the ungodly hours of morning, because you can't put down the book - oh and for plenty of mind-blowing WTF! NO!-moments, check out her books. Check them out now.