Ep. 35: How to Give Readers a Book Hangover
In episode 35 JT talks about book hangovers, why they are good for both the reader and the author and how you, as a writer, can ensure your readers get hooked. If you can give your readers a book hangover, they will buy more books.
You can listen to the episode right here. The transcription is below the player. Feel free to add your comments using the comment section below.
Episode 35 Transcript
Note: Transcripts are generated using a combination of speech recognition software and humans, as such, it may contain errors. Please, double-check the audio file before quoting anything from this page.
00:00 [JT Pledger] Greetings again, kids! We have a quick podcast today. I want to talk about book hangovers we get as a reader and I want to share a few tips on how to ensure your book gives your audience this painful pleasure. Stick around, we will cover all of it!
00:41 [JT] What exactly is a book hangover? Quite simply it is when a reader finishes a book and has a strong emotion about it being over. It may not be the ending that caused it but for whatever reason, they weren’t ready for the adventure to be finished. Oftentimes, with a book hangover, you will sit and think about the book for a while, maybe even a few days. Sometimes the hangover can be so powerful that it lasts through reading the next book.
Who Would Want a Hangover?
01:22 The phrase “book hangover” sounds horrible. We equate the term with pain, or nausea much like you get with an alcohol hangover. However, this isn’t the case. For books, the hangover can be painful, but in a pleasant and satisfied manner. The reader is happy and maybe even better off for the experience, but is sad to see it all come to an end.
01:54 One of the benefits for an author, when a reader gets a hangover, is that they are excited to read more. The next book released will be purchased without hesitation, and previous novels may be sought out, hoping to rekindle that feeling once again.
02:16 As a reader, you can’t get enough. The story may well be wrapped up, but it has a lasting impression on you. You want to know more or go deeper into the story. Perhaps you want to learn everything there is to know about the main character. Whatever the trigger, there is something that pulls you in, keeps you hooked and won’t let go, even long after the book is finished.
Set Your Writing Goal
02:51 It is these types of stories that authors love to hear their reviewers go on about. We get a kick out of people demanding we write more, or another one, or even just the mad rant from a reader that can’t believe it is over.
03:11 So, it should be every writer’s goal to produce a book that will give the reader a book hangover. How do we do that? The quick answer is deep emotional connection.
03:29 The most logical place to start is the characters. Our readers love their characters. Some more than others. If you can write your character in such a way that the reader instantly falls for them, you have your connection. It doesn’t always have to be a good feeling, either. Your reader can loathe the main character, or love them. As long as you have tugged on some emotion, you have them.
Characters are a Good Start
04:04 How do we do that? Well, it isn’t easy, believe it or not. A lot will depend on the individual reader. There are a few things you can control, though. First, stay away from cliches. If you are writing a “boy finds girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl in the end” type of book, you need to write the characters in such as way that the reader wants to be the girl (or the boy). The only acceptable substitute is that the other character gets the boy.
04:49 By being able to place themselves in the character’s lives, your readers will connect with them deeply. Sympathy, empathy and sudden bouts of rage when the main character fucks up and loses the girl in what could be the final time. Writing is powerful, as I have stated many times. A book can cover so many emotions, places, thoughts and feelings that no other medium can come close to. If you can grasp the concept of scene building and character development, you will be well on your way to a book hangover.
The Story Itself Works, Too
05:36 Did you know it doesn’t have to be the characters that cause this emotional bond? While it is the most popular method, sometimes the story itself can be the catalyst needed to cause a hangover.
05:52 When a reader can put themselves in the story as if they are there, you have created an emotional bond the reader won’t soon want to let go of. Have you ever read a book and forgot that you were reading? Perhaps you take a break only to sit there a minute trying to remember turning the pages. If the story has enough detail to entice the reader’s mind to commit the missing pieces, you draw them in. I have talked about this before in detail, so I won’t do so now.
06:28 However, it is important to know that you can have bland characters and still give your readers a book hangover. While not every reader will agree, some may find your characters flat or boring, while others think they are the greatest invention since antibiotics. For example, I find the characters in George Orwell’s 1984 to be quite predictable and flat. However, once I start reading the book I am sucked into the story and I am sad when it is over.
Don’t Forget About Pacing
07:08 Finally, you can adjust your time frame. For whatever reason, if a story moves fast the reader gets sucked in and hooked. Dean Koontz is a master of pacing.
Both his Odd Thomas and Christopher Snow series’ take place over a couple of days. That kind of story pacing means you have to get involved right now!
07:36 Slow, drawn-out stories offer the reader a chance to take breaks and put the bookmark in. With a shorter time frame, though, they get a sense that something will be missed if they stop reading. Instead of taking that break, they flip the page. Soon, they find out that there are no more pages to flip through and the hangover begins.
08:04 As you can see, a book hangover can be a good thing. Not only will it make your readers turn into fans, but it will also help sell future books and even increase sales of previous novels. There are also plenty of ways to make a hangover happen.
Recap and Sign Off
08:26 You can opt for the easy path and dive deep into character development. You also have the option to get in touch with your scene creation side and really give the reader a world they can see themselves living in. Finally, you can speed up your storyline time frame and pace the book at breakneck speeds.
08:50 I will leave you with that to ponder for now. Until next week kids, have fun; write words.