Books written by the number can be incredibly stale. However, on any given page there should be four key ingredients in order for that page to be of interest to the reader. The placement of these ingredients is not crucial to the story, nor is including these elements on a page any guarantee that the magic of word to imagination will appear. Without them, the page will be dull and lifeless.
One – there has to be conflict. This conflict does not have to be two men shooting weapons at each other. It can be as simple as an argument over a pencil. It could be a character conflicted about entering a room due to a past experience. It could be two friends in disagreement over the type of mascara to use at a particular event. There has to be conflict.
Two – at least one unanswered question – The reader needs to be drawn along. If all is well and good, and there are no discoveries to be made, the book gets put down. In many cases multiple levels of questions exists. The main question of whether the protagonist reaches her goal is the obvious one. What about which mascara worked? Who gets the pencil? Does he enter the room and are the results as bad as the last time?
Three – descriptions woven into the dialogue and character movement. If two men with swords are standing in an open field with powerful winds battering them, their speech, hair quality, and eyesight will be affected differently than if they are knee deep in a vat of mud surrounded by stone walls and two hungry dragons belching foul smelling burps. But taking a paragraph to describe the scene is boring. Smells, character defects and general weather conditions should affect the action, not be separate from them.
Four – Emotion. Even waiter number three who delivers the soup that propels the main character to being invited to “America’s To Chief” feels something. You don’t have to make her a main character, but she can provide a glimpse into your protagonist. She could realize he is a food genius, she might be treated kindly by him, shocking her, or she could be ignored and she could tell someone of his callousness. Every character has an emotional purpose other than moving a bowl of soup from the kitchen to the table. Otherwise, the soup should already be on the table and the waiter eliminated from the scene.
With these four elements a page will not only be interesting to the reader, the writer as well as the reader will be much more satisfied and have a reason to continue the story.
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