Engage the Reader

We all understand the importance of bringing the reader into your story. How many times have you started a book only to stop reading because you didn't like the characters or the situation or you just felt you couldn't relate.  The sooner you can engage (involve) a reader into your story, the more they will like it. Whether it is the scene, the characters, the plot, or a combination of these elements, something has to draw the reader in so they want to turn the page. 

Mountain Biking

“Aren’t you coming?”

Bonnie was about a third of the way down the beach trail. She patiently waits, but I can’t release the bike’s brakes.

“It isn’t that steep–really–you can do it,” Bonnie coaches me. “Just go slow and you’ll be okay.”

My fingers refuse to ease off the brakes. I stare down the hill at her telling myself it can’t be that bad, but the trail appears more treacherous the longer I sit there. The three-foot wide trail looks much narrower than it did a few minutes ago.

“Give me a minute,” I croak. “I just need to catch my breath.” Even though it is a beautiful morning, sweat drips down my forehead stinging my eyes. I lick my lips and the salty perspiration generates some needed saliva. “I can do this," I reassure myself. “All I need to do is … just barely release the brakes … and let gravity gently pull me down the hill to the beach.” And if I lose my balance, I go over the cliff. I gasp for air.

“Steven, do you want me to come up there?” When I don’t respond, she continues, “I can walk beside you and hold you up in case you lose your balance.”

 Why did she have to pick mountain bike riding when I asked her what she wanted to do today? Sweat trickles down my back. Or is that fear?

I yell, “Okay, here I come,” but my fingers won’t ease off the brakes. That’s it–it just isn’t going to happen today. I climb off the bike and start walking it down the trail.

Bonnie chides me. “You are such a fraidy-cat,”

As I approach her, I grit my teeth, but eventually the words spill out. “Bonnie, why is everything a competition to you. Can’t we just have some fun without you constantly challenging me to see who is the best, the fastest or the most fearless?”


Bonnie walks over to me and wipes the sweat from my face with her gloved hand. “I’m sorry, honey. I didn’t realize you felt this way. I’ll back off. Let’s just enjoy our day on the beach.”

We both take a moment and drink from our water bottles.

“Isn’t it just beautiful,” she asks as she looks out over the craggy cliff to the secluded sandy-white beach below.

“Yes, it is just as the guidebook described it–and more.”

Bonnie leans into me then turns her head and kisses me. Her warm lips allow me to forget everything that had happened just minutes ago.

She takes an exaggerated sniff and then pushes me away. “Wow! You stink. Did you shower this morning?”

Talk about breaking the spell. “Yes, if you remember, we showered together.”

Bonnie giggles and then jumps on her bike. “The last one down the hill has to wash dishes tonight.”