Keeping the Mystery Alive

How do you write a page-turner? Keep the reader asking questions. Or, one question, really: What happens next? This does not only apply to a mystery novel. No matter your genre, you want your reader to engage with the story, with your characters. Your reader should be anxious to learn where the next chapter will lead them. Yes, you need to answer those questions occasionally, at least in part, but there should always be a new question or two popping up to keep things interesting. And that big question? The one that drives your protagonist’s story arc? You better hold out on answering that one until the bitter end.

What are the big questions? Which questions are the ones that have a reader staying up late to get those ultimate answers? They might not be the ones you think they are. In the TED Talk below, writer/director J.J. Abrams talks about keeping the mystery going, and about the surprising moments that make a good story that much better. This runs just shy of twenty minutes, so set aside a bit of time to watch.