Characterization, On Writing

Pageturner Novels & ‘The 3 Greats’

October 19, 2012

page-turn·er (pjtûrnr) n. – A highly suspenseful, interesting novel. A thrilling novel with a fast-moving story.

Aim to write a pageturner novel? Your first step is to read pageturner novels regularly. Just visit the bestseller lists to find the latest.

“Pageturner” almost qualifies as a synonym for “bestseller.”

The reason is simple: a pageturner novel is the best low-cost vacation a reader can buy–or get free from the library. Readers are always looking for novels that provide them with passage into worlds where people are larger than life, the decisions they make matter, and events have great meaning. That’s why pageturners generate word of mouth endorsements from booksellers, critics and the general public, and attention from the media.

As you read your latest batch of pageturners, analyze them.

You’ll find that the authors of those books practice three key skills. They present readers with works that have Three Greats:

  • Great Concept  
  • Great Characters 
  • Great Story


Ask yourself this:

  • Would Gone with the Wind be great without Scarlett and Rhett?
  • Would the Harry Potter series work as well without Snape and Voldemort – not to mention Harry himself?
  • Would Twilight work without Bella and Edward?


Of course not. In fact, the action of the above novels is deeply intertwined – and dependent upon – who those characters are.

Pageturner authors create characters who make choices that intrigue readers, characters readers find interesting and either care about or find compelling, characters whose adventures readers are willing to follow for 200 or more pages.

That’s quite an achievement! So, how do they do it?

In the next several blog posts, we’ll focus on techniques bestselling authors use to create great characters.

Happy writing!

Watch Jessica Hatchigan’s video tutorial – “How Bestselling Authors Create Pageturner Novels: Plot & Structure ” instantly on your PC, Mac, compatible TV or device via’s instant video.



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