If there's one thing every great book needs, it's tension.
Recently I was reading a book where, although I didn't really like the heroine, I empathized with her and the story even caused me to get some prickly eyelids (you know, the almost-cry?). Imagine my surprise though when fifty pages from the end all the tension suddenly dropped out of the story. The last part of the book was a tying up of plot threads. I almost didn't finish because the sigh-worthy moments had already happened.
So how do we keep a reader turning the pages to the very end?
But it's gotta be tight. I happen to think there should be some form of tension on every single page. Whether in the form of dialogue, actions or narrative, there needs to be something that makes the reader say, "oooh, this is going to be interesting" or "uh-oh".
Not only that, but the tension has to be real. It has to be believable. It's possible to create paper-thin conflicts. Imagine tension as a tight thread stretched from one page to the next. If the conflict/problem becomes something the reader thinks is silly or not believable or easily solved, then the thread is cut and the tautness is gone. And the reader will probably stop reading.
Do you like page-turners? What do you find harder to do in your story, tension on every page or believability to support that tension?