[Write On Wednesday] Writing For Reluctant Readers

Don’t forget, the end of the month is approaching. It’s the perfect time to check out your writing commitments from last month, and start planning your commitments for December. There’s still time to do a few more things this month to reach your goals!

There’s a concept that there are avid readers and ‘reluctant readers’ (boys often get lumped into this category). It is pronounced as if it’s somehow the reader’s fault that they get bored with books. I firmly believe that anyone can be turned into a midnight-reading-story-zombie if we just find (or in our case, write) the right kind of story for that reader.

It might seem odd to challenge you to write a short story for someone who doesn’t want to read one, but this exercise will keep you focused on making your story as compelling, action-driven, and engaging as possible.

ReadingThe Prompt

Write a story for a reluctant reader


  • Write a story for one person you know who doesn’t read much fiction. Picture them. Figure out what else they do for fun  instead of reading. What is it about that activity that lights up their brain? What would your story need to include, to press those same buttons?
  • Keep the action moving in your story. So-called relucatant readers often have little patience for overly-descriptive writing, self-analysis by characters (“naval-gazing”), and long paragraphs wher enothing seems to happen.
  • Write in short, choppy sentences.
  • Keep your paragraphs short.
  • Use lots of dialogue. Don’t worry about dialogue attribution tags. Just use ‘she said’ or ‘he said’ or ‘they said’ and omit them altogether where you can.
  • Pick one detail in each scene, to anchor your story in a real setting, but move on quickly. Ideally, mention an object/setting detail that will later become important as part of the action.
  • Make sure your reader knows what your character wants and what’s at stake in the story.
  • Keep the overall story short.
  • Use lots of humor if that’s something you can pull off. Making your reader feel emotions is one of the best ways to convert a reluctant reader into an avid one. I suspect humor is the hardest one to pull off, but the easiest to sneak past a reader (they don’t notice you’re giving them the Feels, when it’s ‘just’ humor).
  • Alternately, shock them. There’s a reason that lots of supposedly reluctant readers have, nevertheless, read a couple of books by Stephen King or Dean Koontz. (Make them FEEL something).

Stop back here after you’ve written and tell us how it went!

Photo Credit: Ben Ward

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