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How to Keep Readers Glued

Updated: Jul 7, 2022

Notes from presentation of “How to Keep Readers Glued to Your Novel” with John Claude Bemis – offered by Pam Binder

John Claude Bemis, children’s author, virtually presented a talk on how to keep your reading audience interested in your story. It applied to all ages of readers, though he specializes in children’s literature. This workshop with Q & A at the end was sponsored by Author’s Publish-Writers Workshop that can be found on Also found on YouTube are a series of lectures published by this same company.

Bemis’ uses each scene to pull the reader into the story. A scene is the basic tool used to pique the reader's curiosity with intriguing descriptions within the scene. The main character has a suspicious appearance as described in a particular scene. Or the character is found in a suspicious place, maybe in a room of a house where a stranger doesn’t belong. The scene therefore builds anticipation for what will happen next by wondering where the story line is going. (Remember that the scene you build is just one part of the entire story, don’t give too much away)

Parts of a scene include: its own arch; it advances plot and deepens character development. To generate questions or pique interest the sentences should be simple and intriguing with action.

According to Bemis the most basic technique to achieve readers interest is knowing the emotions and the hopes and expectations of your audience for the characters you are building. This is when knowledge of the craft of writing becomes so important. As an author we use pertinent questions to create feelings that help our readers bond with the main characters and their actions and the small obstacles they face. An author also develops a sense for how to add interesting character development when the character learns more of their self but at the same time not letting the back story grab too much attention. As writers we know when to answer these questions and how to pace the speed of the answer.

Bemis really emphasized the use of active voice vs. passive voice. It’s a simple tool that makes our writing much more interesting to read!

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1 Comment

Ken Stephenson
Ken Stephenson
Feb 09, 2022

Great article. Thanks Pam.

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