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Spending hours upon hours creating characters and plots can be exciting. It’s thrilling to know that others will read your story. But that can also leave you with anxiety while you wonder, “I feel that my story is good, but how can I keep my readers engaged and interested?” The answer is not as complicated as you may think.

It’s Not Just about Grammar

While countless articles provide excellent grammar tips for improving writing, few provide suggestions on how to grab the attention of readers. Here are three best tips for how to make your writing engaging for your readers.

Reader Engagement Tips:

  1. Evoke an emotion
  2. Never compromise the credibility of your characters
  3. Leave the readers guessing

1. Evoke an Emotion

How often have you opened a book, read a few pages, and put the book down because you didn’t care about the characters or the plot? One of the most important things a writer can do to capture the reader’s attention is to make the readers feel attached to the story. Emotion is a powerful tool in how to make your writing engaging. So, what does evoking emotion look like in writing?

Evoking Emotion Tips:

  1. Make characters relatable: Relatability makes your readers connect and sympathize with your characters. Take advantage of the bond your reader can form!
  2. Make the setting realistic: If flying doesn’t exist, don’t suddenly have characters flying around town.
  3. Make readers experience: One main purpose of entertainment is allowing the audience to live vicariously through a story. So, give your readers the experience they desire.

If your readers feel something when they read your writing, then you have successfully accomplished this step. If not, keep working on this skill.

2. Never Compromise the Credibility of Your Characters

Character credibility doesn’t mean the authority of your characters. Instead, it means how believable your characters are—an important element of making your writing engaging. If your characters are not written to be believable, then readers can lose interest in your story. Elements from a story that seem real can be relatable to readers, and thus, keeps readers engaged.

Character Credibility Tips:

  1. State the character premise
  2. Set up the motivation and goal of a character
  3. Stick to the character’s main purpose


Joe was an evil scientist who loved the idea of having unlimited money for his personal research. He formulated a devious plan to rule the candy industry for endless piles of sweets.


Joe was an evil scientist who loved the idea of having unlimited money for his personal research. He formulated a devious plan to make the CEO of SportsSpace his puppet for limitless wealth.

In this example I set up the premise that Joe is an evil scientist. The motivation is funding for more research. The goal is having unlimited money. This last part is where it’s important for you to keep consistent throughout your story: never stray from your character’s purpose. If you do, your writing will less likely be engaging.

The first example is not consistent with Joe’s motivation and goal. Therefore, readers may become disengaged from the story because they lose the connection they developed with Joe. Losing connection with a character may also make readers feel that they no longer understand that particular character.

If you follow these two steps, you’ll find readers getting attached to your seemingly realistic characters.

3. Leave the Readers Guessing

The beauty of stories is anxiety. This strong emotion elevates your writing and makes it engaging. When we watch a scary movie or read a scary story, the writers do a fantastic job of keeping you on edge. But how do they build interest when telling a story? 

Guessing Strategies Tips:

  1. Use cut scenes
  2. Bring up scenes not previously mentioned

Cut Scenes

Cut scenes are great for making your readers mad and anxious—which is a sign that your writing is engaging. The best scenes to cut are those that the readers want to read the most.

For example, you write a scene where two characters who bickered the entire first half of your book finally look at each other differently (romantically). You took your time building up the romantic tension in the first half of the book, and just as they are about to have their first kiss, the story cuts to the next day and focuses on one of the characters saying, “I regret last night.” When readers get to the cut scene, they stare in disbelief because the moment they were waiting for is over. Why did this character regret last night? What happened?

Scenes Not Previously Mentioned

When writers reference scenes that they did not previously write in the story, it leaves the reader typically asking these two questions: “Did I miss something?” and “Will this scene pop up later?” You want readers to ask these questions because the mere asking of these questions shows interest. You have the readers hooked and have left them wanting to find the answers to these questions.

It is up to you if you ever want to later reveal in more detail scenes previously not mentioned. Just remember, keep the mystery and keep readers’ imagination.

Practice and Submit to Inscape Journal!

The best feeling in the world for writers is seeing a reader invested in characters and in plots. This article offers advanced-level tips for helping you accomplish keeping your readers engaged in your writing. As you follow these three tips for better writing, you will see your readers engaged, attached, and curious for more.

Once you feel that you have improved in these three steps, submit to Inscape student journal for your piece to be published.

—Camila Roldan, Inscape