The incredibly obvious secret to good storytelling

There are few things I love more than a really good, gripping, impossible-to-put-down book. I’d even venture to say I love a good book more than a slice of delicious pecan pie. Unless it’s Mom’s homemade pecan pie, I mean. But you get the point.

It bugs me that there are so few books capable of achieving this magical status. The secret to it is fairly obvious: start the story moving forward, give the characters goals, and for godssake don’t stop moving the story until the goals are either achieved or become unachievable or everyone is dead or all of the above. If the characters have goals and the reader wants them to achieve these goals, the reader will not want to put the book down until those goals are achieved. Think of all the good stories you’ve ever read, heard, or seen on a movie screen. I’ll bet the ones you liked the most all met this criteria. This is why the first Star Wars trilogy is so much better than the new trilogy. It’s why everyone loves a good heist film.

Anyway, the book that prompted all of this is Battle Royale, by Koushun Takami. I made the mistake of starting it late last night, and I ended up reading halfway through the damn thing (and it’s pretty beefy) before forcing myself to put it down and go to sleep. It’s brilliant. I highly recommend it.