The Two Main Keys to Hooking Your Readers: Curiosity and Care

Write Better Now Roundup

Have you ever been at a party and someone tells a story and you just don’t care?

Have you ever been that person telling the story and realized mid-story that everyone’s eyes have dulled over?

You feel trapped. You want the story to be over (especially if you’re the one telling it). You know something has gone wrong because you can feel it. The communication of failure is instant.

The problem with writing a novel is that you can’t see when that happens: when (Shakespeare help us all) the reader stops being hooked by the story, no longer cares about what happens.

That’s terrifying, right?

There are two major elements that keep a reader turning that page or scrolling down:

  1. Curiosity—the need to know what happens next
  2. Care—the connection and concern and emotion for the characters.

In Characters & Viewpoint, Orson Scott Card writes, “The intensity of the characters’ feeling, as long as it remains believable and bearable, will greatly intensify the reader’s feelings—whatever they are.”

So, be intense if you want your readers to care about what’s happening, but don’t be so intense that they can’t handle it.

To do that you want to give your character:

  1. A goal that the reader knows—something that matters to the character
  2. Choices that might hinder the character getting to that goal or help them
  3. Sacrifices that happen so that the reader sees that the character has an internal struggle getting to that goal.

When it comes to curiosity, that’s the hook that keeps us moving forward and wondering what will happen to the character in the story. The choices, the emotions that arrive with those choices, are what makes the reader curious about what will happen.

A MasterClass post says,

“Most techniques to hook a reader have one thing in common: They force the reader to ask questions. A good hook—whether it uses action, emotion, a strong statement, or another technique—will have your reader guessing about your characters’ motivations, backstories, and more. Maybe in high school, you learned to start an essay with a rhetorical question. Try that same technique now, but leave the actual question out of the finished piece. Instead, set up a scene that leads your reader to come up with the question on their own.”


Think of a scenario for your story (or just a scenario if you don’t have a story):

  • Zombie hamsters are coming down the street.
  • The tea mug your uncle gave you has a secret message on the bottom.
  • Your mom just told you she’s part oak tree.

Now, think of a question and write the scenario and scene toward that question.


Call for Submissions: Jewish

Deadline: Year-round

Jewish Fiction .net, a prestigious literary journal, invites submissions for its December 2023 issue. We are the only English-language journal devoted exclusively to publishing Jewish fiction, and we showcase the finest contemporary Jewish-themed writing (either written in, or translated into, English) from around the world. In our first 12 years we have published over 500 stories or novel excerpts, originally written in twenty languages and on five continents, and we have readers in 140 countries. We’ve published such eminent authors as Elie Wiesel, Savyon Liebrecht, and Aharon Appelfeld, alongside many excellent, lesser-known writers. For submission details, please visit our Submissions page at

Blink-Ink #53: Secrets

Deadline: July 15, 2023

State secrets, family secrets, trade secrets, secret sins and secret loves, entrusted secrets, cosmic secrets, childhood secrets, dark secrets taken to the grave—any sort of secret at all. Can’t keep a secret? Closely guarded treasure, or a bargaining chip. We are more interested in tales of mystery than everyday gossip. Send us your best unpublished stories of approximately 50 words about a Secret, or Secrets. Submissions are open June 1, 2023 through July 15, 2023. No attachments, poetry, bios, or AI generated content please. Send submissions in the body of an email to



Hooking Your Readers

So, this post, and way more writing tips are over on, Write Better Now! is a mostly self-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.

How To Make People Keep Reading Part Two

Last week, I talked about how I was going to be diving into revisions and sharing the path I’m taking via hints.

The main element when we write a book is that we want our readers to keep reading. So,  I think I’m going to start what I like to call (Drumroll please) the Wednesday Writing Series About Hooking Your Reader.

I’ll be giving two hints a blog post. Let’s keep going!


Make People Wonder

Not knowing what is going to happen is a big deal when someone is reading the story. Make them wonder what might happen.

One method to do this is to not tell them everything right off. Give some elements of what is happening, but not all.

So, in the NEED series, I have the main character see a man in the woods at the side of the road and also pointing at her plane as it takes off. The reader thinks: Wait. Who the heck is that man?

In Harr Potter, J.K. Rowling, introduces the Bo Who Lived, but what did he live through and how? The reader wonders and reads to find out…

Make them freaking worried

The reader needs to care about the character. We want Mr. Potter and Ron and Hermione to survive because those kids are lovable, but we also are worried that survival might not be an option. The stakes are high and those magical? These babies aren’t superheroes. Death is possible. Near death happens all the time. We obsess that the trio might not survive.

That’s a hook.

That high stakes conflict coupled with imperfect heroes who tr so hard? That’s the ke

Writing News

The Spy Who Played Baseball is a picture book biography about Moehat  Berg. And… there’s a movie out now about Moe Berg, a major league baseball player who became a spy. How cool is that?

You should totally buy Carrie’s book about Moe. It’s awesome and quirky and fun.


Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness as we talk about random thoughts, writing advice and life tips. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow.

dogs are smarter than people carrie after dark being relentless to get published

Writing Coach

Carrie offers solo writing coach services, but she’s also teaching a Write! Submit! Support! six-month class online via the Writing Barn in Austin. For details about that class, check out this link. For more about Carrie’s individual coaching, click here.

Ebook on Sale for July

And finally, for the month of July, my book FLYING is on sale in ebook version on multiple platforms, which means not just Amazon. It’s a cheap way to have an awesome read in a book that’s basically Men in Black meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer but with chocolate-covered pretzels.

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Carrie will be at The Books-A-Million in South Portland, Maine on August 8.





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