The best way to engage your reader is by crafting sentences with compelling action verbs. However,  it’s much easier to use dull, passive forms of “to-be” when talking  talking about ideas or abstract concepts.  When you finish your first draft, it helps to highlight all of the instances  of “is”, “are”, “were”, and “was”,  and maybe even “have”, “has” and “had” to see how frequently you depend on these verbs. Then you can explore possible alternatives.

Here’s a a worksheet of strong action verbs organized by genre.