Treat your reader to a roller coaster ride

Your story ought to feel to readers like a roller coaster ride. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you write a lot of action-adventure but that your tale contains a series of mini-climaxes, all leading to large one at the end.

The beginning of the story ought to tantalize readers as they imagine what going up the tall hill and swooping down it will be like. Your protagonist knows there’s no getting off the ride and must muster the inner strength to face down the danger before him.

As every sentence pulls and draws readers forward to the next one, the first mini-hill occurs as the rising action begins. The protagonist will overcome this stomach-wrenching climb, but ahead of him are more challenges that test his courage and ability to hang in there.

And then comes a taller hill with an even larger, more thrilling drop. Here our protagonist achieves some goal so he is more able to solve the overarching problem, though it’s usually just a partial victory. Or perhaps the villain snatches away the gains made during this first hill, making the odds of surviving seem hopeless.

Once readers catch their breath and their heart slows, a new and yet higher climb for the protagonist begins, leading to even greater anticipation. The tension in every sentence, like chain links on a pulley, grows tighter and tighter with each inch upward.

Our readers reach the story’s highest point, for a split second teeters there, and then whoosh! All the air is taken from them as the protagonist in a wow moment swiftly overcomes the problem.

At last, the cart carrying our readers rounds the last curve and slows as hitting flat ground and comes to the end. Likewise, our protagonist, as processing all that has happened to him, is able to relax.

Get it right, authors, and you’re guaranteed to have repeat riders.


My name is Rob Bignell. I’m an affordable, professional editor who runs Inventing Reality Editing Service, which meets the manuscript needs of writers both new and published. I also offer a variety of self-publishing services. During the past decade, I’ve helped more than 300 novelists and nonfiction authors obtain their publishing dreams at reasonable prices. I’m also the author of the 7 Minutes a Day… writing guidebooks, four nonfiction hiking guidebook series, and the literary novel Windmill. Several of my short stories in the literary and science fiction genres also have been published.