Writing a gripping plot line means hooking the novel's readers on the very first page - and keeping them hooked. It's very simple to do, once you understand the key to page-turning fiction.
As a matter of fact, it is such a simple principle that it is easy to lose sight of it when you get stuck into the details of building your plot.
Try to always remember everything I tell you here about hooking the audience and you won't go far wrong.
We all know what it is like to be gripped by a novel with a great plot line - that feeling you get when it's late and you have an early start and you know you should get some sleep...
But you just can't put the book down!
We all certainly dream of plotting a novel that is that good.
But have you ever wondered why some fiction has that effect on you, while other books are such hard work that it's like slogging through mud just to reach the next paragraph?
Have you wondered what makes the difference between a novel you read in a single sitting and one you abandon before Chapter 2?
Where do they come from? From the scrapes the characters get themselves into, of course. As soon as you give the central character in your novel a goal, you provide the readers with a question they want answered...
"A predominance of long-term promises will cause a reader to skip. Its effect is to make him impatient to discover 'how things come out.' A predominance of shorter promises will cause the reader to focus too much interest on the immediate scene. Its effects may be seen in the kind of book the reader does not finish."
- Vincent McHugh
And it's not just those big, novel-length questions that help to make a novel a page-turner.
The central character will have a mini goal in every scene - one of the many small things they must accomplish if they want to reach their overall goal.
And every one of these is another question the readers will stick around to see answered.
Yes, the audience wants to know if the boy eventually wins the girl...
Don't forget, too, that characters other than the protagonist will have goals of their own - both longer-term, overall goals and shorter-term mini ones.
And to make matters even more interesting, these goals will probably be at odds with those of the central character.
The goal of the boy's rival, for example, will be to win the girl for himself - and the readers will want to stick around to see that he doesn't succeed!
Like I said, I am about to get quite technical about plotting a novel, but try not to get so deeply involved with the technicalities that you lose sight of the basics.
Here, in a nutshell, is how to write a gripping tale that keeps the readers turning the pages...
Result? The readers won't stop reading because they will want to know the answer to the best storytelling question of all: What happens next?