How to Write a Page Turner

- by Geri Krotow

How’s that for a hook? This isn’t a technical how-to blog post, so I apologize if you’re looking for the mechanics of a page-turning novel. It’s just that I’ve had a revelation over the past weekend. I spent the past seventy-two hours in St Petersburg, Russia. Sounds glamorous and it is, to some extent, but not so much when you find out I actually live in Moscow, Russia and it’s only a 4-hour express train away to St Pete’s.

As I toured palace after palace, museums, churches, and markets, I found myself more and more in love with my profession. Writing. Because by getting out of my comfort zone and into a new, stimulating environment, I again heard what I did all those years ago as I drove along the California coastline–the “voice.” The narrative voice in my head that describes everything as soon as my eyes take it in. I used to think everyone had this friend, this voice talking to them. Once my husband pointed out to me that no, not everyone hears voices, I figured out that I’m a writer.

It’s too easy in today’s market to get so wrapped up in the “other” part of writing–the promotion. Ad copy, appearances (no, not on Oprah, more like presenting to a group of 3 or4 at the local coffeehouse), entering contests, donating books, websites, blogs, book signings…there seems to be no end to what an author can or “should” do to promote his or her work. But unless I have a great story to sell, I’ll have nothing to promote. And if I’m not recharging my soul (or “filling the well” as per Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way), I won’t have the motivation to dig for that great story by getting the words on the page.

I get that most of us don’t live overseas or even close to an historical city like St Petersburg. But I can honestly tell you I’ve been just as excited to get back to writing after I watched my black lab-mix dog chase a snake in the backyard in Maryland as I do today after 3 days of touring Peter the Great’s masterpiece. My challenge to you, fellow writer, is to get out of yourself and your writing world enough today so that you too are excited to get back to the page. A walk, potting a plant, baking, helping your neighbor. Whatever it takes. Because I want to read your page-turner!

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