I read this article: 5 Writing Tips to Creating a Page Turner and found it interesting. Their tips:
1. Create stakes that matter
2. Unpredictable characters
3. Which way will this go?
4. Pace with purpose
5. Give them something to talk about
I think there are more tips than that, but it's a start.
The reader has to be invested in the characters, wanting them to succeed. But if the writer throws obstacles in their way (either emotional or having another character get in the way somehow), then the reader should be rooting for the character and not the obstacle. I've watched shows where I hope the tornado wins and we can all move on. That's ridiculous. I don't care about the characters at all.
Unpredictable characters are sometimes stupid and make idiotic choices. That's not good. For example, how many times have you screamed at the television telling the character NOT to go into the dark basement alone? Do they ever listen? Nope. That's pretty predictable that they'll do it, even though we all know you never do that. So make them unpredictable. Instead of going into the basement at all. have them throw a smoke bomb down there first. Wouldn't see that in a horror movie.
Which way will this go? In a romance, you know what's going to happen by the end of the book when you read page 1. You know who the romance will be between and you know it'll be a happily ever after book, or it's going to make you angry. Thus, as a writer, there needs to be a twist of some sort that turns that all on its head. For example, in 'Wishing on Mistletoe Mountain,' the first scene was about Rebecca and her senate-hopeful boyfriend. The guy proposes. As a reader, you think it's going to be about those two, but as soon as Rebecca declines the proposal, all bets are off.
Pace with purpose. This is a toughie for me. I love fast-paced stories. I hate having to read about every detail of the setting, what the place smelled like, and what color the sky is. Couldn't care less. I'd rather let my brain fill in the details like that, and get on with the plot. I'm a big dialogue person, making the pace faster. I also like putting that 'ticking clock' in the background, where they have to do something by a certain time, or everything is lost. Life and death stakes are even better with that ticking clock. But that races the pace even more. So pacing is tough. Too slow and you lose the reader. Too fast and...you lose the reader. I'm trying to do fast, slow, fast, slow, changing it up so the pace isn't too fast. Not easy but doable.
Give them something to talk about. I do hear from my fans that they loved the books and think about the characters even after the book is done. That's the best news to hear, as a writer. They also want a sequel for some books...even better! But word of mouth for them to tell their friends...priceless.
So get out there, write a page turner, and see if these things apply.
Have a great day!