Captivate Your Readers


Jodie Renner’s third guide to writing compelling fiction, Captivate Your Readers, won a Silver Medal in the 2015 Florida Authors & Publishers Book Awards. It provides concrete advice for captivating readers and immersing them in your story world. It’s all about engaging readers through the use of techniques such as deep point of view, showing instead of telling, avoiding author intrusions, writing riveting dialogue, and basically stepping back and letting the characters tell the story.

Today’s readers want to lose themselves in an absorbing story. Renner shows you how to provide the immediacy and emotional involvement readers crave in fiction, the direct, close connection to the characters and their world. And she does it in her usual highly accessible, reader-friendly style, with plenty of subheadings, concrete tips and examples.

This book is available through all Amazon websites and elsewhere in both e-book form ($2.99 – $3.49) and trade paperback ($11.99 – $14.99).

Captivate Your Readers – An Editor’s Guide to Writing Compelling Fiction




Chapter 1 – Create a Complex, Charismatic Main Character

Chapter 2 – Create a Fascinating, Believable Antagonist

Chapter 3 – Don’t Stop the Story to Introduce Each Character

Chapter 4 – Character Descriptions – Detailed or Sketchy?

Chapter 5 – Character Descriptions – Learn From the Pros 


Chapter 6 – To Prologue or Not to Prologue?

Chapter 7 – Open Your Novel in Your Protagonist’s Head

Chapter 8 – Your First Pages Are Critical 


Chapter 9 – Introduction to Point of View in Fiction

Chapter 10 – The Pros & Cons of First-Person Point of View

Chapter 11 – Draw Readers in with Deep Point of View

Chapter 12 – How to Avoid Head-Hopping

Chapter 13 – Tips for Using Point of View Effectively

Chapter 14 – Psychic Distance

Chapter 15 – Using Thought-Reactions to Add Attitude & Immediacy 


Chapter 16 – Show Important Scenes, Tell Transitional Ones

Chapter 17 – Critical Scenes Need Nail-Biting Details

Chapter 18 – How to Keep Your Dialogue Real and Riveting


Chapter 19 – Make Sure Your Characters Act in Character

Chapter 20 – How to Avoid Annoying Author Intrusions

Chapter 21 – A Strong Fictive Voice Needs Attitude

Chapter 22 – Show the Setting through Your POV Character

Chapter 23 – Sensory Details Suck Your Readers In

Chapter 24 – Show Character Reactions to Bring Them to Life 


Chapter 25 – 10 Ways to Add Depth to Your Scenes

Chapter 26 – Avoid Overwriting – Subtle is More Sophisticated

Chapter 27 – Adding Tension, Suspense, & Intrigue 


Chapter 28 – Checklist for Writing Fiction Readers Can’t Put Down

Chapter 29 – 33 Tips For Creating a Short Story Worthy of Contests, Magazines, and Anthologies

Chapter 30 – 15 Questions for Your Beta Readers – And to Focus Your Own Revisions

Chapter 31 – 12 Essential Steps from Story Idea to Publish-Ready Novel 


Appendix 1 – Spot the POV Gaffes

Appendix 2 – Naming Your Characters

Appendix 3 – Sketching in Your Characters 



Review of CAPTIVATE YOUR READERS by Charity Tober for Readers’ Favorite Book Reviews and Awards, May 2015:

“Captivate Your Readers (An Editor’s Guide to Writing Compelling Fiction) by Jodie Renner is an informative and valuable guide for all fiction writers. The author goes beyond the notion of just writing a great story and gaining instant readers. She gets really meticulous and lets writers know all of the ‘nitty gritty’ details of writing compelling fiction, starting with the most important aspect of any book – the characters. Renner discusses what makes an interesting character, how to introduce new characters, and what information to include so readers are invested in the characters’ journey. The book goes on to discuss riveting openings, points of view, style, story flow, the importance of ‘show don’t tell,’ as well as how to write realistic and engaging dialogue. Renner concludes with three appendix exercises: Spot the POV Gaffes, What’s In a Name? Naming Your Characters, and Sketching In Your Characters to give writers a chance to apply what they’ve learned to their own writing.

“I found Captivate Your Readers (An Editor’s Guide to Writing Compelling Fiction) to be a very thorough and informative read. Renner covers a wide variety of topics and does so in a logical and easy-to-follow format. I like how she introduces a topic and then gets really detailed, looking at it from every angle. For instance, in part three of the book, she discusses point of view. Renner introduces the subject, explains it, gives the pros and cons of different types of point of view, how to use it effectively, and even goes into using the character’s thoughts to enhance the story. I would recommend this book to all fiction writers looking to learn more about the individual, detailed components of a compelling read.”

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“A handy compendium of techniques that will also serve as a checklist for authors who aspire to write page-turning fiction.”

James Scott Bell, author of Super Structure: The Key to Unlocking the Power of Story

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“Jodie’s books are packed with practical writing and editing advice. Get ready to improve your manuscript today.”

Steven James, author of Story Trumps Structure: How to Write Unforgettable Fiction by Breaking the Rules

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“Want to write solid, marketable fiction? Read this book. Regardless of your experience level, CAPTIVATE YOUR READERS gives you clear and concise tools that will help you create a believable story world and spin a good yarn.”

DP Lyle, award-winning author of the Dub Walker and Samantha Cody thriller series

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“Jodie Renner nails it! Captivate Your Readers should be at the top of every new and experienced writer’s arsenal, as well as a preferred resource for every teacher of writing. Her no-nonsense, easy-to-understand approach is perfect. Bravo, Jodie Renner!”

Lynn Sholes, bestselling author of the Cotten Stone series and The Shield

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“Jodie Renner is a terrific editor and writing coach. I highly recommend all of her books.”

L.J. Sellers, bestselling author of mysteries and thrillers

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“I couldn’t put this book down! A writing and editing book that’s both educational and entertaining. Captivate Your Readers is my newest go-to writing resource.

Mark Wayne Adams, President, Florida Authors & Publishers Association


5 stars – Captivating Guide for Writing Better Fiction, By Brian Switzer on May 9, 2015

Jodie Renner’s ‘Captivate Your Readers’ isn’t an instruction manual with a dry list of dos and don’ts. Rather it’s a warm conversation with a close friend over a mug of hot chocolate on a brisk fall afternoon.

Renner’s warm, rich prose informs her ideas on writing from an editor’s point of view. She breaks the enormity of writing a novel down to its most essential pieces- point of view, character, plot, narrative, etc. In each category she breaks it down further, laying out what works, what doesn’t, and why. In each area she ties her instruction to a central theme- engaging your reader and getting her to turn the page.

The book is chock-full of examples of writing mistakes. She takes her editor’s pen to those mistakes and rewrites them in a more engaging and captivating way. Her examples aren’t bad writing. They are examples of common mistakes and how to avoid or correct them. I can see ‘Captivating’ being a book that an author goes to again and again with her own writing to find passages that are weak and an easy ways to strengthen them up.

This marks the third book by Jodie Renner in my small but growing library on writing. It’s clear that this book, like the other two, will be one that I glean something from every day.


5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent writing resource and a must-have for writers – By Natalie Jane

Renner’s latest writing craft book, “Captivate Your Readers: An Editor’s Guide to Writing Compelling Fiction,” is an excellent resource for both beginners and seasoned writers. It is well written, informative, and easy-to-read. She illustrates her points clearly with well-chosen passages from published and unpublished works. Her enthusiasm coupled with her knowledge of the subject makes this a must-have book for any writer. 


5.0 out of 5 stars Another PERMANENT Addition to the Library! – By William Simon (Houston, TX, USA)

I received a copy of this book as an ARC, and it is now a part of the Library. A permanent part. Stephen King made a comment in his brilliant ON WRITING, “Most books about writing are filled with bullsh**.” Jodie Renner follows that in cutting out the BS in a friendly, informative way. With a little bit of imagination, it would not be hard at all to read this and imagine Jodie is sharing all this information over a lunch table. Written in a friendly conversational way, Jodie cuts through it all, takes the reader by the hand, and explains in ways that actually make sense how to “Captivate Your Readers”. Her previous books – FIRE UP YOUR FICTION and WRITING A KILLER THRILLER – started me reading and taking Jodie’s advice. In CAPTIVATE, Jodie takes it all one step further. Step by step, chapter by chapter, Jodie examines and clarifies what readers want these days, how to make it happen, and – more importantly – how to add your own spin to her lessons and craft a compelling story the reader cannot put down. If you want to write, read this book. If you’re serious about writing, read this book. If you are making a living as a writer, read this book. If you have reads a hundred books “About Writing”, read this book. There is no one, and I do mean NO ONE, who would not come away with a lesson or two from it.


5.0 out of 5 stars Dog ears on your paper back copy guaranteed – by Victoria Ichizli-Bartels

I read this book as a beta reader and was immediately captivated by the style and writing of the book. Even if this book is a non-fiction book, the author delivers what she promises to teach you: she captivates with her writing. […]

The book made me stop again and again. It made me contemplate and brainstorm on my work in progress. Every time I had a light-bulb experience (and there were plenty of them) I had an urge to apply this to my work. Which I did. I am sure to come back to this book again and again in my life as a writer, which started several years ago and will never end. So, my print version will definitely get a lot of dog ears. And so will yours. Guaranteed.


5.0 out of 5 stars, by Tom Combs, author, Nerve Damage

“This book is a winner. I found the writing craft recommendations on target with lots of excellent examples. I think the format and insightful content make it a great instructional read as well as a tool to reach for whenever one’s writing is feeling ‘off’. Highly recommended.”


5.0 out of 5 stars Enhance Your Knowledge of Writing Fiction and Captivate Your Readers! By John Kurtze (Chicago, Illinois)

CAPTIVATE YOUR READERS will help any fiction writer improve their writing techniques. In this third book in her series of guides to writing compelling fiction, Renner focuses on putting life into stories by bringing the characters to life and capturing the readers’ attention and compelling them to keep reading. Writers will find this book to be user-friendly, providing advice with examples on how to engage the readers emotionally and keep them reading. Renner gives guidance on how to create a direct connection between the characters and the readers. Renner’s guide helps writers understand the importance of telling the story from the character’s point of view to connect to the readers. […] CAPTIVATE YOUR READERS is a must-have guide for writers and earns a 5 star ranking.


5.0 out of 5 stars Writing Fiction Readers Can’t Put Down – By Steve Hooley

Jodie’s added another one. This book will help you grab your readers and have them keep hanging on. From character development, to hooking the reader with your opening, to showing nail-biting detail, to immersing the reader in the story world, to sparking up your style, this book will help you keep the reader reading. Another great craft book! Add this to your arsenal!


5.0 out of 5 stars A must-read for fiction writers – By Donna O’Neil

Writing is a solitary craft, and with the help of “Captivate Your Readers,” fiction writers will feel like they have had the assistance of a whole team contributing to the story. Author Jodie Renner offers very specific examples throughout this book that really hone in on what to do and what not to do in your writing. I read this book as a beta reader and was very impressed. As an editor, I will recommend this book to all my authors, especially those who are developing their craft. As a writer, I am thrilled to be reminded of the advice Renner offers with respect to dialogue, backstory and scene setting, among other topics.


5.0 out of 5 stars Great Guide – by D.F. Barrett

Finally! A writer’s guide that covers it all. This book: Captivate your Readers, is a book that I will read and re-read. It has great check lists and intriguing questions that I will go to while editing each of my upcoming stories. Jodie’s book helps streamline self-editing in ways that makes it fun and interesting rather than a chore. I particularly like Chapter 26: How to avoid Annoying Author Intrusion. Hmmm, food for thought.


5.0 out of 5 stars Want your characters to grab the readers attention? by Jijsmom

I was given a copy of the book to review with the understanding that I’d honestly post my opinions. I am so glad I got to do this. My favorite part of Jodie’s book centers around character development. I am in the process of writing my first novel, and her section on character development has me re-working my book. I’ve learned so much that will give my characters more depth and realism. Jodie shares good, practical information to help a writer produce high-quality work. This book is a worthwhile investment in your writing career.


5.0 out of 5 stars Stays focused on its core purpose – by Alex Fenton

I was privileged to be one of the beta-readers for this book, and having witnessed its development, I can confirm that Jodie is an author who genuinely practises what she preaches. Entire chapters have come and gone, to ensure the final product stays focused on delivering exactly what it promises – techniques that will ensure your writing captivates its readers, and brings them back for more. Each chapter has been written to stand on its own merits; so dive in to the pages that interest you most, and take notes as you go. This is Jodie Renner’s third book on the craft of writing; written from her experience both as a published author and professional freelance-editor, and that experience really comes through in this book.


5.0 out of 5 stars An essential book for fiction writers – By Dale Smith (Portland, OR USA)

“Captivate Your Readers” delivers a wealth of fiction writing craft. This is excellent stuff! Renner’s tips and techniques will prove very helpful for fiction writers trying to grab and hold readers’ attentions. I really appreciated her emphasis on Deep POV as a way of doing that–in my experience it was a very difficult skill to get my head wrapped around, and took a couple years of study and workshops. This book lays out how to create deep POV, and why it is so essential to do so. That alone makes it worth the price. But that’s only part of what Renner covers. She details how to create characters readers will root for, how to make your dialogue crackle, how to pull your reader into your story and keep her there, as well as advice on how to revise and edit your work. “Captivate Your Readers” is an essential book for fiction writers, it’s certainly a book I will go to again and again. Five stars.


5.0 out of 5 stars An incredibly useful guide for writers – By Robert Beatty (Asheville, NC)

This book is filled with excellent advice about what you need to do AND NOT DO in order to write compelling fiction and get published. It covers characterization, point of view, setting, tension, and all the important principles of good fiction writing. If you read this book and follow its suggestions, it will take your writing to the next level. —Robert Beatty, Author of Disney’s “Serafina and the Black Cloak”