My daughter, Jayne, and I have gone many places together. And we’ve repeatedly died.
Often our demise has been chalked up to extreme temperatures. Then there were the times when we accidentally shot ourselves while hunting for food…irinically so we wouldn’t starve to death. Trying to cross flooded rivers has done us in more than once too. And even when we’ve managed to survive these things, we’ve had to stop and bury other members of our traveling party who didn’t. And usually those who are dead or dying have been sick with scurvy, cholera, or other ailments. Then there were those nasty “bites”…mosquito bites, snake bites, and frostbite. Icky.
We’ve encountered flooded trails, polluted water, broken wagons, prairie fires, harsh thunderstorms, blinding blizzards, gnawing hunger, exhausting thirst, blocked roads, steep paths, wild animals, quicksand, dust-storms, high mountains and relentless deserts. Also, we’ve had to deal with ill-tempered travelers, injured draft animals and high prices at hole-in-the-wall trading posts. Double yuck.
I can imagine some people turning to their spouses and saying, “We’re never going anywhere with the Timm family. I’d rather go visit your mother!”
Don’t worry. Jayne and I experienced these journeys from the comfort of our home while playing Oregon Trail on the computer. It’s a game that provides an educational–if not terror-filled–journey demonstrating what early settlers underwent and overcame to reach a new home and start new lives.
Good writing takes a reader on a journey too. Maybe they are emotionally connected to a character or curiosity keeps them turning the pages or a sense of unsatisfied justice makes them need to see what happens to the villain. And the reader is on a journey of our making. And it better be believable. Because time is precious. There had better be something for their heart and mind to embrace. They have to feel a strong need to continue–even finish–the journey with you.
And, as a writer, I want them to make it to the end…better for the journey.
Answer this question: what keeps you turning the pages of a book?