Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Please tell me how I can keep you up all night?

Yes, this is indeed a serious question. I want to know what it takes for a story to make you lose much needed sleep just to finish?

You know the kind I mean.

The sort of book that you can't put down. One that you sit and read during breakfast, one hand holding the book, the other holding a spoon mechanically shoving cereal in your mouth. The kind that you shove in your purse to read during your lunch break. The sort of story that leads you to put a video on for your child to keep him distracted enough that you can sneak in a few more chapters. The kind you don't want to end because you want to linger just a little longer in that world.

So tell me what is it about these sort of books that captures us and won't let us move on with our lives until we finish? Because I want to write like that. I can think of no greater honor than to know that I made someone lose sleep so they could read my story. And what books have you read that did it for you? Because let's face it they aren't all that common. To me they are a precious treat that I can't get enough of. Sure I love many of the books I read, but I'm taking about the few that REALLY hit hard with the suspense.

Here's a few recent ones that have done it for me.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
(and I'm sure Catching Fire once I allow myself to read it)
Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer
Dreamfever by Karen Marie Moning


beth said...

Part of it, I think, is structure. TANTALIZE kept me up at night because at the end of each short chapter there was a little bit of a cliffhanger. HUNGER GAMES did that, too. Just when you thought you could close the book and leave the characters in a good situation, something would happen to make you worry for them.

Worry--that's what keeps the reader up. Worry that it won't be OK. I have to believe that your characters might not make it.

Abby said...

I think it's a combination of tension and really feeling strongly for the characters (love or hate). Like Beth said, worry keeps you up, but if you don't care about the characters, you're not going to be very worried about what happens to them. Great post!

Icy Roses said...

Mehhh, if we knew that answer, we'd all have agents by now, haha.

I think it has a bit to do with loving the characters are caring A LOT what happens to them. And a plot that doesn't resolve things, keeps you guessing. I mean, BIG PROBLEM refuses to be resolved and you are emotionally tied to what happens with the character in BIG PROBLEM, then you will probably keep going. Right?

I don't know. It's a magic formula that has no set recipe, I suppose.

Natalie said...

The thing about THE HUNGER GAMES for me was that there was never a moment in the book where everything was all good. I worried about Katniss and Peeta and Gale from the first page to the last. Plus the characters are incredible and you can't help but root for all of them.

ali said...

I want to know too!

Sleeping with Schubert by Bonnie Mason, Hunger Games, one or two of the Twilight books (but I can't remember which) The Fionavar Tapestry by Guy Gavriel Kay . . . many :)

I love books like that! Hate them, and love them, lol.

We'll get there Rebecca!

Mariah said...

I think it is a combination of many different things, characters that you love, lots of action combined with intrigue so you constantly want to know what is going to happen next.

Eon Dragoneye reborn by Alison Goodman

Rebecca L Sutton said...

Thanks for the awesome comments and book suggestions. I've got some good stuff floating around in my head reading all this and just in time for some hefty revisions tonight. ; )

Little Ms J said...

I haven't started Hunger Games yet, but I couldn't put Hush Hush down. I pre-ordered from Amazon because all my writerly friends were telling me how amazing the ARC was. I was hooked. I was up until 2 a.m. and I had an 8 a.m. board meeting to look alert and sassy for. I didn't even care. I had to know what happened next. I wanted to understand. I needed answers.

Jenita said...

The first thing that comes to mind is characters that I don't just love but also care about -- which doesn't happen as often for me as it does for most people. Offhand, I can only think of Harry Potter and Switching Time (which, strangely enough, was nonfiction).

But there are other books that kept me up at night. Gone With the Wind was one that I just could not stop reading, and I think that was mostly because of the vividness of everything. I stayed up all night reading the Hunger Games, but I think that had something to do with the fact that I started it at two o'clock in the morning...

Rampant was also very good -- partly the vividness again, partly just because I wanted to know more about the venomous killer unicorns. So yes, you can get by on pure awesomeness. =]