Fully Utilizing Page Turns

The success of a Prose/Poetry is built around a multitude of factors. There is the script to consider, how well the piece fits the reader, vocal skills, and more. Usually it is the larger details that receive the most attention from competitors, and that is understandable. However, it is in the details where Champions are selected. One such detail is that of the page turn. Ridiculous this element may sound, but ridiculous it is not. Page turns assist in creating atmosphere, character, and add variety to a performance. Implementing these tactics can boost a Prose/Poetry with one singular movement of the wrist.


The slowness or fastness of an event can have a significant impact on a viewer’s lasting perception and interpretation. Imagine any pop song slowed down to ballad speed. The mood of the song is completely reversed with one change. Page turns can have the same effect over the audience. Turns do not all have to be a standard, unnoticed motion--they can be transformed into something of value.

For instance, the use of a fast page turn can be a subliminal move that has an edgy effect on an audience. Quickness is often related to heightened energy, nervousness, elation, or fear to list some examples. Therefore, by using a swift turn to traverse across pages a reader adds a level of energy to their performance. Also, rapid turns help to reflect the inner emotion of the character, or even the atmosphere and tone of the current passage. A snappy turn such as this can either be done in the midst of a character speech that is fast paced (usually this turn occurs because the previous page ran out of space and use of the next page is required), OR to be jarring a reader will place an accelerated turn after a slow, tense scene. Typically, at the end of the suspenseful build there will be a slight pause and then a quick page turn to a page with shocking information. In this regard, the fast turn is the physical embodiment of “suddenly!” in a story. The reverse can be done as well, a fast turn to a page with a jolting pause for an unsettling moment.

A slow turn however is used to convey a completely different feeling. Anything deliberate and methodical like a crawling turn implies thinking, fear (this time of being too horrified to move), suspicion, being unsure, or even teasing if time is important for that particular piece. Slow turns speak as much of atmosphere and character as a fast turn does, so do not underestimate this turn. There is nothing quite as agonizing for an audience as watching the tension build in a character as they wait for the page to flip. That is one of the greatest advantage of the slow turn--the reader’s opportunity to deliver a direct facial to the audience while turning. Or, during a turn a reader can look into the book as if too hurt/shy/embarrassed/etc. to be seen. A slow turn can also be done with or without dialogue. Silence can be powerful; often the most intense parts of a work are the silent ones because of the emotion behind them. Though, depending on the "reading" tone while turning, slow turns might add vulnerability to a character.

Pacing and Implementation

It is crucial to understand the significance these turns can have on an audience. Both serve to deliver a strong moment of a piece in a unique way. However, with any special technique comes the underlying rule that special does not mean impervious to overuse. When either of these methods are used too frequently, then whatever was special about them is lost. Their exceptional quality is found in their rarity within a piece. NEVER overuse a turn, or it becomes cliché.

Another note to make of a quick or slow turn is that neither of these should be done poorly. Practice these turns. Put purpose behind them. Either of these turns can become sloppy if performed haphazardly and without meaning. Why is the turn being done as such? An emotion might be on a reader’s face, but the feeling needs to extend into the very turn to be truthful.

Further, a fast turn captures the audience attention properly if done tactfully, not so blistering fast it draws the audience’s attention for it being ridiculous. Inversely, lethargic turns that are beyond slow also capture unwanted criticism for being too much. Find the proper speed for the turn, and never allow it to steal the character’s momentum.

Emotion While Turning

While these turns are being executed by the hands, the rest of the body must be in character. Whatever stance, hand gesture, posture, binder placement, etc. is being used should be polished. More importantly, the facials need to mimic the emotion of the piece. Blankness is not an option. Particularly during a slow turn, where emphasis will be drawn to the face, a good facial is necessary. (Not to say swift turns are given slack! There is simply less time for a mere glance to catch a non-active face. But a performer must always be on.) Whether deciding to look up at the audience, or glancing down into the book to “read,” ANY motion is only as effective as the interpretation supporting the turn. Motivation is always mandatory.

Scene Indicator

Another aspect to the page turn is that of how it regulates the pace of a story. Think of page turns as a way to visually show a scene change. The audience is given no set change, no lighting cues, nothing but the reader’s voice and physicality. Thus, placing one scene per page is an excellent way to inform the reader a new development will be made; that a new venue is in use. Further, this division helps the interpreter create builds and development per scene (breaking a story into “beats,” or small sections, makes for easier interpretation) while looking professional. Why place an unnecessary turn in the middle of a climatic scene if it can be avoided? It might look unnatural.

Turns add atmosphere to a piece. They aid in the development of character by visualizing an inner dialogue and emotion that might not be heard in the character’s words or seen on their face. Page turns also add some variety that helps to alleviate monotony of a piece. The details are what personalize a piece; show a reader’s dedication and creativity for the minutest of moments. And page turns, whether slow or fast, add that tiny, polished detail that can become the determining factor between ranks.