Skip to main content

A Writing Exercise For Engaging Your Readers

Take the first chapter of your novel, or a short story that you’re working on, and rewrite it twice. First, rework it in an effort to engage a family member, like a parent. Second, rework it to engage a friend, a coworker, or anyone else you feel could be your reader. Be careful to use real people and not a composite of a demographic, like women between the ages of thirty-five and fifty-one. Although that’s the market most likely to buy books, it’s much more effective to put a real face and name to your rewrite.

writing exercise | how to attract readers

When you’re finished with the rewrites, compare and contrast your work. Look for places where you’ve shifted the outcome of a scene based on each reader. For example, consider whether you made the lovers reunite because your mother likes happy endings, or you cleaned up the language because you know your good friend doesn’t like vulgarity. Evaluate if these people are the best people to tell your story to. Some stories need to end badly; people often need to curse.

The purpose of this exercise is not to teach you to write to please people, but to help you recognize that real people will read your work and will interpret it based on their own history, personality, and sensibility. While you don’t want to shape your fiction for one person, you do want to understand how to tell your story in a way that will be true to it—and reach the most readers possible. After all, that is the point of writing.

This exercise is from The Constant Artof Being a Writerby N.M. Kelby.

Looking for more advice, instruction, and exercises on writing? Buy the book now!

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 615

Every Wednesday, Robert Lee Brewer shares a prompt and an example poem to get things started on the Poetic Asides blog. This week, write a desire poem.

Writer's Digest Best Writing Advice Websites for Writers 2022

Writer's Digest Best Writing Advice Websites for Writers 2022

Here are the top writing advice websites as identified in the 24th Annual 101 Best Websites from the May/June 2022 issue of Writer's Digest.

Love the Art. Work the Business. | Nikesha Elise Williams

Nikesha Elise Williams: On the Power of Self-Publishing

In this indie author profile, novelist Nikesha Elise Williams shares her path to self publishing and the creative marketing strategy that's led to her success.

Change of Plans

Change of Plans

Every writer needs a little inspiration once in a while. For today's prompt, there's been a sudden and unforeseen change of plans.

5 Things to Know When Writing About the Music Industry

5 Things to Know When Writing About the Music Industry

Author Ashley M. Coleman gives you her top five tricks for writing about the music industry—even if you're not an industry expert.

10 Tips on Covering Events as a Freelance Journalist

10 Tips on Covering Events as a Freelance Journalist

From planning ahead to staying late, Alison Hill shares 10 tips for journalists while covering events as a freelancer.

From Script

Character Studies, Writing the Immigrant Experience, and Six Adaptation Steps Before You Adapt a Book (From Script)

In this week’s round up brought to us by Script magazine, navigate different character study approaches in your writing, and tracking emotional journeys.

Lora Senf: On Trusting Children With Middle Grade Fiction

Lora Senf: On Trusting Children With Middle Grade Fiction

Author Lora Senf discusses how one chilling text message led her to writing her new middle grade horror novel, The Clackity.

Katrina Leno: On Writing Around an Idea

Katrina Leno: On Writing Around an Idea

Critically acclaimed novelist Katrina Leno discusses the process of bringing her childhood memories to magical life in her new young adult novel, Sometime in Summer.