So why did this story grab me and scare me . . . again? Here's what I came up with and here's what I think I, as a writer, have to master. See what you think and let me know what else I need to add to this list of strategies.
Strategy #1 Keep 'em guessing--the characters, that is. What one character knows, the other(s) shouldn't, but the reader should. That will drive the reader "bats," and he'll keep urging each character to wake up, turn around, pay attention!
Strategy #2 Take your time cluing those characters into what's afoot. Make the character very slooow to discover what the reader knows.
|Jonathan Harker Knows He's Dracula's Prisoner|
Strategy #4 Never make the the bad guy all bad and good guy all good. It's really tantalizing when the bad guy is handsome, kind of sweet, but deadly. A little avarice, cowardice or greed in the good guy makes it a little harder to root for him at times, so the reader is conflicted: pull for the hero or his enemy who is totally awesome and exciting?
Strategy #5 Give your female characters some backbone, yet keep them vulnerable and feminine, witty, sometimes wise and sometimes (especially when it comes to that evil guy) foolish.
Strategy #6 Get into some of those cultural taboos and show how the characters really feel about them, The forbidden is always enticing and should be for those people in your book as well as those reading it.
So what else can a writer do to hook the reader and keep him hooked until The End?