What makes a TV show “bingeable”? What makes you click ‘next episode’ on your streaming service or faithfully plop on the couch when your favorite show comes? It’s something that I think about when I watch TV, and I watch a lot of TV. One show that I recently binged was The Secrets of Sulphur Springs on Disney+. In it, a 12 year old boy and his family move into a run-down and supposedly haunted hotel. As strange events occur, they boy and his best friend try to solve the mystery behind the disappearance of the young girl who they believe is haunting them. It’s the kind of spooky, mysterious, and slightly science-fiction story that is guaranteed to pique my interest.
But after binging all 11 episodes of the first season, I started to realize what kept pulling me in hour after hour. Each episode is a puzzle onto itself, and its resolution would provide small clues to the overarching mystery of the series. These clues were tiny, just enough to get me to continue watching until the next episode.
It made me start looking at my own stories, and how I plot them. How can we, as writers, create bingeable books? I think that it’s by giving our characters a goal and making sure that the resolution of that goal contributes to the larger story just enough to make the reader want to turn the page and see what happens next.
Our namesake, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler is a great example of this, and more mysteries can be found on the following booklists:
Mysteries in Bookstores and Libraries, at Book Fairs and Festivals, in Literary Landmarks, and Other Literary Places
Middle-Grade Mysteries, Spy, & Sci-fi stories featuring South Asian Characters: Interview and Giveaway with Sheela Chari
Diversity in MG lit #19 August 2020 Mysteries
But a book doesn’t need to be a mystery to be “bingeable”. What are some MG books that you couldn’t put down?