Captivate Your Readers

An Editor's Guide to Writing Compelling Fiction

Non-Fiction - Writing/Publishing
230 Pages
Reviewed on 04/30/2015
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Jodie Renner is a freelance fiction editor, well-known blogger, and the award-winning author of three craft-of-writing guides in her series An Editor’s Guide to Writing Compelling Fiction: Captivate Your Readers, Fire up Your Fiction, and Writing a Killer Thriller. She has also published two clickable time-saving e-resources to date: Quick Clicks: Spelling List and Quick Clicks: Word Usage, and is in the process of compiling and editing two anthologies of short stories and poetry, with more to come. You can find Jodie at,, on Facebook (Jodie Renner), Twitter (@JodieRennerEd), and Google+.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Charity Tober for Readers' Favorite

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.

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.
I made several interesting observations about myself, while reading this book. I felt I was reading a two-fold book: an anatomy book about writing and a cookbook how to write successful and, yes, captivating fiction.
I found a clearly presented and explained body of writing fiction. Further, successful fictional works where dissected in front of me, the heart, the brain and the muscles exposed and presented separately and together, so that I could understand their functions alone and together.
And then I found a lot of recipes, revealing optimum measures for cooking a delightful peace of fiction.
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.

William Simon

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

Dale Smith

"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.

DP Lyle

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


This is the best book for writers that I have found. I can say that I learned something from almost every page in the book. Her writing style is clear and to the point. I have read many books on writing but there were few which were as enjoyable to read. Ms. Renner described everything in such a way that concepts and ideas resonated with me. Even her examples from other authors were used to drive home the points she was trying to make. The parts of the book that I found interesting were her bullet sections on 33 tips to creating a short story worthy of contests, her 15 questions to ask your beta readers, and her 12 steps from your story idea to publishing. I bought the Kindle version and I am buying the paperback as well. First time I've ever purchased both.

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.

Christina Li

This book is one of the best 'how to' books on writing I've seen (and I have a lot of them!). Ms. Renner goes into a lot of detail about character creation, moving the plot along, scenes and details, description, point of view, when to show and when to tell, etc., etc. She also gives plenty of ideas for what to include in scenes and what not to include, or how to do it little by little. She uses plenty of examples making every point clear. I wish I had had this book a lot sooner, but I'm glad I have it now! If you read it and apply it to your writing, your books will indeed 'captivate your readers!'

Rick Pullen

I thought I'd read it all until I read Jodie's latest. This packs everything you need to know (no kidding) about fiction writing---especially writing thrillers---into a single book. It examines writers' most frequent mistakes and shows vivid examples on how to fix them. It identifies all of the practical problems writers face. If you're frustrated in the middle of a manuscript and looking for guidance, read this book. It addresses virtually ever craft issue thriller writers endure. Best writing book for the money I've ever read.

Brian Switzer

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.

Hardly a page goes by without Renner referencing other books on the craft. The reader can go to those other resources for more advice on how to put words on paper in a way that readers can't put down.

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.