Sunday, December 13, 2015

3 Best of AYAP: Engaging the Reader

Reader engagement is one of the hallmarks of a great novel. Think about it, you haven't heard anyone talk about a novel they love without telling you exactly how hard they were drawn into the story. But when reader engagement is such a tricky thing to nail down, it can be difficult to tell whether your draft has what it takes to be a truly engaging read.

Luckily, the components of reader engagement can be narrowed down to a few key components, including the balance between show and tell, use of tension, and voice. The articles below have great advice on how to manage all three, sending you well on your way to creating your most engaging novel yet!

On Pacing Through Dialogue

"In my experience there are three common dialogue problems that result in bogged-down pacing: white noise; perfect questions, perfect answers; and stating the obvious." - Amy K. Nichols

On Engaging the Reader through Dialogue

"Dialogue is a fabulous way to reveal your character’s characters – who are these people are who are speaking?" - Sonya Sones

On Showing versus Telling

"That’s one of the “side-effects” of telling: a lack of emotional resonance. When you TELL the reader something, you ultimately fail to SHOW the reader why that information matters. And how do you that SHOW something matters? By SHOWING the characters' emotional reactions to information." - Susan Dennard

On The Real Meaning of Show Don't Tell 

"Show over tell begins at the scene level--not at the sentence or paragraph level." - Lauren Oliver

On Choosing When to Show and When to Tell 

"For me, deciding whether something should go into scene is part of planning the novel, and it comes down to issues of tension and pacing. If you think you need a scene, there are a few questions to ask yourself." - Martina Boone

On Grabbing the Reader from the Opening Scene 

"The entire tone can change in the blink of an eye. That’s what makes crafting the beginning of your novel like going out on a first date. Where should you take your story? Should you be yourself, or try and be something you’re not? How much do you reveal about your past?" - Martina Boone

On Hitting the Right Note Writing YA 

"the biggest change was the difference in content and perspective. Although I always write a story about a character who grows and changes in some way, this time I was doing it in the confines of the world of a teenager—and I had to be aware of the restrictions of that environment, and be aware of their adolescent cares, woes and concerns—even in an alternate London." - Colleen Gleason

On Evoking Engagement through Dialect 

"You have an accent. You might not understand their answer, because they talk funny too, but that’s because people talk funny all over the country. As a writer, that funny talking is important. Your characters’ speech patterns will inform your setting, time period, and character development. But it's hard to get it right." - Kate Hart

On Voice 

"What is voice? ... It's hard to define. And it's different for every writer and every book. Often it's easier to recognize when voice is missing than to identify what makes it unique when it is there." - Martina Boone

On the Magic Formula to Nailing Your Voice 

"Attitude is the first step to a voice. When I sat down to write the first Charlie Joe book, I didn’t say to myself, “I’m going to create a funny, irreverent voice.” I don’t think you can be that conscious about it, because then it won’t happen." - Charlie Joe Jackson

On an Agent's Guide to Voice 

"Language is diction: the word choices, the literal language of nationality. Style is the form: short, choppy, flowing, poetic, lyrical. Voice is the personality, the person behind the words that makes the reader forget about the author, and dive into a life. It’s what you remember about the characters long after you’ve forgotten their names." - Natalie Fischer

On Engaging Your Reader with Tension 

"One of the first lessons a creative writer learns covers GMC: Goal, Motivation, Conflict. Without a viable GMC combination, it's impossible to create characters that leap off the page and burn themselves into your heart." - Martina Boone

What do you think? Was there any advice that particularly resonated with you? Any posts you think we've missed that should be on this list?

Want to read the rest of the series? Click here!


  1. It is more than just writing well that engages a reader. I never buy a book when an author constantly promotes with link to purchase site or cost of the book over and over. I also get annoyed when authors are constantly promoting other author with a like for a like ect. I like to be drawn in by an image or provoking thought. You would be surprised at how many readers no longer go to Goodreads or read Amazon reviews. In a way, authors are pushing away the connection with readers. Sadly, I have also seen very well written books but the author blows the connection but posting drama or being overboard with the book post. Interesting facts and what the authors desk looks like draws readers in. I hope this adds with the post. It is very well written.

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