Gripping stories

I’ve already mentioned that what is most important about a book is that it’s interesting and thrilling. But what arouses people’s interest?

An example: Anita has always been in love with Peter. She tried to talk to him for months. When she finally plucked up the courage, it transpired that he was in love with her, too. A romance flourished between them and three years later they were happily married. They raised two healthy children and lived to the end of their days.

Is this interesting? Maybe for some people, but not for most. It’s just everyday life, nothing unusual.

Today’s readers are constantly bombarded with interesting television programs. This is why they’re much more impatient than readers were 100 years ago. Or in other words, novels that were successful then are perhaps not considered so today.

So what is interesting?

Here is an excerpt from my book PROMISE ME ETERNITY

Helen looked around the room. “Didn’t you say you were going to buy a new kitchen?”
Simon threw her a critical look. He didn’t approve of such direct questions.
John was coming down the stairs. “Welcome,” he said. “The kitchen has already been ordered, but there was a hitch. It should have been here by now. Otherwise for that money …”
Helen could remember the exact amount they had talked about last time. They had paid out a full seven thousand dollars for a solid wood kitchen rather than veneer. Where do they get their money from? she wondered. She decided to talk to Simon that evening. They, too, could do with a new kitchen.

In the excerpt above the envy between two neighbors because one of them had bought a new kitchen is very clearly noticeable. And envy is always interesting.

John nodded immediately: “Of course. This year we’re going to the Canaries for three weeks.”
“Really, the Canary Islands? Hear that, Simon? We’ve talked about our vacation as well. We were thinking about Burj al Arab hotel in Dubai with seven stars, weren’t we Simon?”
He forced a smile. “We were actually only thinking. I’m a bit short and I don’t know how …”
Helen couldn’t believe it. She’d been sure that he would confirm her words. If nothing else, because of pride, but no, he went and admitted to having no money, embarrassing them both. She angrily said, “Simon, we’re going to Dubai even if it means selling the house. I hope that’s clear to you.”
John and Maria exchanged looks. Simon and Helen often argued in front of them. Maria got up and began carving the goose. “It’s a bit overdone,” she said in a conciliatory way.
As if she had not heard, Helen said, “I’ll sell your goddamn microscope if necessary! I’ve had enough of everything!” Tears of anger showed in her eyes.
Now Simon got angry. “I don’t get why you’re so obsessed with what other people have. It’s possible to have a good life without luxury vacations. I told you I have a loan to pay off until next year …”
Maria silently served the roast goose. “I hope you like it.”
“I’ve had enough of your excuses! You find a reason every year. Go to hell!” Helen got up and went off toward the bathroom.
Simon angrily watched her go, grinding his teeth.

In the second excerpt someone has a wish, but there’s an obstacle. Simon’s wife would like to go on an expensive vacation, but he doesn’t have the money because he’s paying off large debts. This leads to conflict.
And that is what makes a book most interesting. The more such conflicts there are, the better.

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