In my experience, people generally read two things: The headline and the first sentence.

If the headline isn't interesting, they won't read the article. If the first sentence is boring, they'll leave or skip through the article. If you want to get people to engage with what you write, then here are some quick tips for becoming a better writer.

Shorten your sentences into choppy copy

Remember when your English teacher would mark some of your sentences as a "run-on?"  If you struggle with not knowing when to stop a sentence, write shorter sentences. 

Short sentences --or choppy copy-- work great. It keeps people interested in what you're writing. And it's not just because the sentences are short; it's because breaking up your thoughts forces you to make sure that what you're writing is useful.

Use the word "I" more than you think you should. 

I love to use the word "I". It might sound like I'm full of myself, or that I like talking about myself, but the reality is that "I" is an engaging word. It means that I wholeheartedly endorse everything that I'm writing because it's coming from me, not an establishment or organization. This adds authenticity to my writing -- and that's what people crave. I write like that because it works for me -- I've seen the method improve my engagement.

Another note on authenticity: Remember, that your writing should sound like you. Unless you are a very formal person, that means your writing should skew a little informal. Read your sentences aloud in your head, and if they don't sound like something you would say out loud, try again. 

Use shorter words 

Now, of course, this isn't a hard rule. There are books` I read that are interesting, but because the words are too big, I don't understand much of the content. Using shorter words is a lot like using shorter sentence -- and shorter paragraphs. Anyone that's used WordPress to publish blogs or articles knows that the platforms readability score is based in large part upon word length and complexity. Commonly used language means you can communicate with more people. 

Find the tension.

If you've ever gone on a wonderful website called Twitter, you'll notice one thing very quickly: Everyone has an opinion. And not just any opinion. An opinion that many people disagree with. And you would think all of these angry replies to their opinion would make them stop with writing their controversial views, but the exact opposite happens: They get more followers and engagement, so they do what any reasonable person would do: Tweet more things that make people angry.

It's a feedback loop. Now, I'm not a big fan of this approach, but it works well. The more tension your writing plays on, more engagement you will get. It's that simple. 

On the other side of the spectrum, positivity works just as well. If you've got nothing but pleasant, encouraging things to write about, well, that's better than the alternative. 

Pick a side

If you're going to take time to write, make it enjoyable. And there are two ways to make something interesting: By giving your honest to goodness opinion on a topic, or by writing based on facts and research. Both serve a particular purpose.

Avoid writing "middle of the road" type of content. Take a stance on something. If it's boring to you, it's boring to your readers. 

Practice radical transparency

My most popular content, regardless of the platform, tends to be content in which I am transparent about my life and what I've learned. For example, I once wrote about a tough time when I had to foreclose on a rental property and also stop paying my mortgage for the apartment that I was living in. Not many people will talk openly about something that could be seen as a failure, but I did, and many people responded favorably to it. 

If you're comfortable with sharing stories about your real life, you'll see engagement with your content rise. People read so they can learn. They want actionable takeaways. They don't want to be bored and read random musings.

Becoming a good writer takes some time and practice. Keep at it, follow my tips, and you'll see your content perform well. Good luck.