Right now, I’m at the point where I’ve just finished writing a long piece of work. I hope it’s good. There’s just one thing about it that’s keeping me up at night, though.
I’m afraid my writing is boring.
Not everyone is so afraid of writing something that’s boring. I know some writers who think they have a lot to share. They ramble on non-stop, unaware that the listeners have turned into zombies. Others, however, are so self-conscious that when given a choice, they choose to write nothing at all.
Turns out, it’s not easy to write something that is interesting.
How Do You Know Your Writing Is Boring?
There aren’t any visible signs. You obviously can’t see your readers yawn, or watch them fall asleep while reading your writing. Chances are people won’t even tell you when you’re writing is boring.
However, boring writing has a tendency to follow similar patterns. If you can detect them, you can eliminate these mistakes from your writing.
Let’s go over four ways you might bore your readers:
1. Boring writing uses ten words when five would have been better
If you are using extraneous words and letters to get your points across, right now may be the perfect, most wonderful, and truly beautiful time to cut them out.
Phew, that was a mouthful. Please, don’t do what I just did.
Using words that add no value tires readers out. The prime suspects of useless words are usually adverbs and adjectives. The next time you run across one, ask yourself, “Do I really need this?”
Don’t be afraid to cut words if they do nothing to move the story forward.
When you first start writing, use words as generously as you want. Go ahead and sprinkle descriptions liberally. But when you go back to edit your writing, pluck out the fluffy ones, leaving behind only the precious gems.
2. Boring writing describes everything under the sun
Writers often believe more is better, that if you share all your ideas about a subject, describe everything in the scene in perfect detail, or write out every trivial word of trivial dialogue, your readers will soak them all up like a sponge.
The problem is your readers have limited attention spans. Too much information leads to overwhelm and causes your readers to wonder what the point was.
See if this applies to your own writing. Have you ever done any of the following examples?
- Over explain your protagonist’s decision-making process, for example, listing three reasons to travel to a destination.
- Describe each piece of furniture in your protagonist’s bedroom
- Report the weather better any weather man
- Analyze your protagonist’s emotions more fully than a teenager’s diary
Instead of being promiscuous with your writing, be picky. You don’t need to reveal everything. A little mystery will make your writing better.
3. Boring writing sounds like a robot (AKA eerily similar to an encyclopedia)
Writing can be an ugly, imperfect process. And that’s what makes it exciting.
Readers want to know there’s a real human behind your words, one who struggled and toiled to create something that moves people.
To captivate your readers with your raw human side, use these methods:
- Be vulnerable: Maybe your character has serious commitment issues? or a few scars in his or her past?
- Have an opinion: Don’t you just hate it when people are undecided?
- Show a few personality quirks: Like the character who can’t stop curling her toes when she’s nervous.
Write in a way that lets people know what you stand for. In non-fiction, take a stance on a topic and defend it doggedly. Don’t be afraid to express your side of the story.
If you write fiction, make sure your characters are taking action and making decisions. Don’t let them be swept up by the story, but force them to decide on a course and accept the consequences of their decision.
4. Boring writing keeps injecting facts, facts, and more facts
I used to think that just throwing all sorts of facts at readers would show them how much detail and care went into my writing.
Little did I know, my infodumping was actually putting them to sleep.
If you want readers to learn something, do it within the context of something interesting. People respond to emotions, not facts. Share a story. Like that time you accidentally stepped into a bathtub full of eels (caught you, didn’t I?).
Ask a friend to read over your writing. Watch his expressions as his eyes scan through the piece. If there are parts where he seems bored or confused, you’re delving too deep into the facts.
Learn more about infodumping and how you can avoid it here.
How NOT To Bore Your Readers
Even though I’ve outlined how to avoid boring your readers, there isn’t an exact formula you can use to make your writing interesting.
But you can improve your chances if you genuinely enjoy what you put out to the world. Embrace your words. Show people you care.
If you do, they’ll come back for more.
What do you think? What is one way to keep your writing from being boring? Share your thoughts in the comments section.
Today, let’s pretend we’re a woman named Janice. She’s going about her day as usual when she sees something that makes her heart start pounding. Why does it feel like her heart’s going to burst? What does she do?