Turn the Page

When revising one of my picture book drafts, I like to spend time checking my page turns. I ask -Have I created a reason for the reader to turn the page? In my research, I found many techniques authors use to create an irresistible page turn. Feel free to try one or more.

Pose A Question

What brings a reader into a story, and what makes them eager to turn the page? Answer: Ask the reader a question. Whether it’s a question directed to the reader, or one posed by one of the characters in the story, few readers can resist the urge to get the answer on the next page.

Stop a sentence in the middle

This is a strategy often used in picture books and, when done well, it adds suspense and wonder to the story. Use an ellipsis or em dash to indicate that the rest of the sentence will be on the next page. I like this one. As my critique partners will tell you, I tend to over use it in my stories.

Break up a compound word

Use only half of a compound word on one page and the rest on the next page. For a masterful use of this strategy the word can change the whole meaning or character in the story. Once there was a bull. . .(turn) . . . dog who had lost his bark. The child is expecting a story about a bull, but it is a story about a bulldog.

Try (Unsuccessfully) to Solve a Problem

Multiple tries, multiple funny fails will keep a reader reading. Ultimately, the reader wants to learn how the main character will solve the problem. This is a very popular strategy with picture book writers.

Use a few key transition words

Then, When, But, And, Until . . . The ellipsis works here to let the reader lengthen the transition word, until the page is turned, revealing a new illustration, and the thought can continue. 


Page turns can be created with the illustrations – a tail appears on one page (turn) the rest of the animal is revealed. An illustrator will be able to create this type of effective page turn. In general, the writer can’t insist on the visual, but you can hint at it with your text.

Visuals can help when the reader knows something the characters do not. Maybe a clue in the illustration can give the reader an advantage then there’s no way to hold back the page turning.


The last way to get readers to turn the page is to write an exciting story. If the plot is exciting, then readers will turn the page to find out what happens next. 

Thoughts …

When drafting your picture book manuscript, pay close attention to page turns. Think about creating a book dummy, laying out the words and illustrations so you can visualize the pacing. Proper turns will create excitement and suspense that will encourage the reader to turn the page . . . and continue reading your story, again and again!

With gratitude …

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