I think we can all agree.
Netflix has completely changed our lives.
Back then the real Russian roulette was whether you’d run into your old high school principal or your ex-girlfriend while looking like a straight up hobo, clutching three boxes of Butterfinger BB’s and the last copy of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze.
Damn, I miss the 90’s.
Netflix has changed our lives in countless ways (I’m looking at you “Netflix & Chill”) by changing the way we consume entertainment.
And in this new era, the concept of “binging” has been given a makeover.
Binging is now a good thing.
In a world where our collective attention span is that of a squirrel, we require our entertainment to grab us immediately and never let go.
We want to watch ten seasons of a show in a single weekend, only leaving the couch to throw another bag of popcorn in the microwave.
We don’t simply want to binge.
We need to binge.
And if we can’t binge it, eh it probably wasn’t worth watching anyway.
WHEN EVERY PAGE READ COUNTS
But binging isn’t just used to describe our tv watching habits anymore.
In a land where page reads = $$ and KDP Select is king, you don’t just WANT your readers to binge your book.
You NEED them to.
Your book should be the literary equivalent of crack.
Sidenote: I am not advocating smoking crack. That shit’s bad for you.
You want folks to miss their bus stop because they can’t put down your book.
Or show up to work late and cranky because they were up until 3am finishing your delicious ass novel.
You want to ruin lives by enriching them.
But how exactly do you do it?
How To Write A Binge Worthy Novel
#1 DON’T BE BORING
This is the MOST IMPORTANT rule.
And no, you don’t have to write a car chase into every scene (every other scene is fine though).
For the love of Rihanna, please do not spend three pages describing in painstaking detail the dilapidated, but once stately, and possibly haunted, old manor where your period drama takes place.
No one cares.
Except for architect enthusiasts.
And they probably don’t care that much.
As a reader, I’m sure you’ve tragically fallen prey to boring ass stories before.
It probably went something like this:
You’re reading a decent novel that’s humming along rather nicely when suddenly you find your eyes glazing over during an unnecessarily wordy, five paragraph long description of the setting sun.
You know those parts of the story that you find yourself skimming over or skipping altogether?
Look, you don’t have to describe the ball in painstaking detail.
But you do need to keep it rolling.
Ha! See what I did there?
#2 DON’T POP TOO SOON
I don’t mean to be crude (I do), but you must be careful not to blow your load too soon.
(I’m looking at you, romance writers who have their main characters hook up two chapters in. Dude, come on. Stop doing that shit. I mean it.)
Those are all words.
Also, they keep folks glued to your novel.
Sure, the reader already knows that the town’s evil mayor planted explosives in City Hall but oh no, our plucky heroine has no idea!
And she just so happens to be her way to City Hall to give an impassioned speech about, idk, saving the rainforest or something I guess.
The point is the reader is going to be on pins and needles as the heroine walks up to the podium, unaware of the ticking time bomb literally beneath her feet.
How is she going to get out of this one?
Will she get out of it?
Maybe it’s the end of the road?
You want the reader to speed read through your novel because they just have to know what happens next.
They should be begging for release (wink, wink, nudge, nudge).
So don’t give it up too soon.
#3 AVOID LENGTHY MONOLOGUES LIKE THE PLAGUE
…unless you’re God’s gift to television, Shonda Rhimes, writing for Meredith Grey with The Fray playing softly in the background.
Then disregard this rule.
Everyone else, listen up.
Don’t write long ass monologues.
A) They’re Boring
B) No one likes big ass walls of text. They’re intimidating and just itching to be skipped.
Hey, don’t get mad. I don’t make the rules, I just report them.
C) You know that guy at the office party that everyone avoids like the plague because he drones on and on about God only knows what? Monologues are the literary equivalent of that guy.
Don’t be that guy.
#4 KEEP IT SIMPLE SALLY
Do you have a Ph.D. in English Lit?
Do you own a thesaurus?
Do you write like both of these things are true?
Look, people read fiction for ENJOYMENT.
You know what’s not enjoyable?
Having to look up the definition of every other word you read and stumbling over awkward as heck, super long sentences kind of like the one you’re reading right now.
Short word > Long word
Short sentence > Long ass sentence
The easier something is to read the more likely folks will read it.
The quicker they will read it.
You, probably: Okay, but what about Shakespeare and Faulkner?
First of all, let’s stop pretending that you read them instead of just googling them.
Second of all, back in their day, people legit spoke all formal, stiff and pretentious-like so the writing reflected that.
Do yourself a favor and delete your thesaurus app.
Your readers will thank you.
- Be Exciting!
- Build Suspense
- Don’t be Shonda Rhimes unless you are Shonda Rhimes
- Don’t be fancy for the sake of being fancy
Alright, now go out there and wreck somebody’s sleeping schedule!