There are times when I pick up a book and I think, ‘I can’t carry on.’ Even though I try to finish most of the novels I start, life is just too short to read badly-written, boring books.
Why are these books boring?
Most beginners overwrite – padding their prose with unnecessary descriptions and characters. This is mainly because they do not have a structured story with well-drawn characters and a cohesive, well-paced plot.
I have put together five sure-fire ways that will help you if you want to bore your reader to tears.
- Add heaps of backstory. Every page is important. Readers, publishers and literary agents make decisions about whether to carry on reading a book based on the first few pages. Do not waste anyone’s time with unimportant setting details and character histories. Introduce your main characters. Tell us where we are – briefly. Set up a great conflict with an exciting inciting moment. And write!
- Do not structure your novel. Reading a book seems incredibly daunting if you are lost in an inexperienced author’s stream of consciousness. A great story does not meander from one unrelated event to another. It needs to follow a path. Otherwise, readers will lose interest. They will worry about wasting their time as you muddle through the details.
- Do not create empathetic characters. It does not matter if you happen to love your unsympathetic psychopathic hero. The truth is that nobody will continue to read a novel without having an emotional connection to the main characters. They can be heroes, anti-heroes or villains, but they all need flaws and redeeming qualities. Readers read stories because they want to relate to someone in the book. We want to know why the characters are acting the way they do.
- Leave unnecessary scenes in the book. I walk out of movie theatres when I watch a film where nothing happens. I stop reading books for the same reason. Authors cannot simply place characters on the page, add some dialogue and description and not move the story forward. Scenes should move your characters and your plot to the resolution of your story. If they don’t, cut them. Removing scenes keeps your story focused, your pace intense, and creates tension so that readers can’t stop reading.
- Describe everything. You do not have to tell readers everything. They are not stupid. Reveal information through action and dialogue. This does not mean that you leave description out. It means that you do not tell us what every character, town, tree, or house, looks like in mind-numbing detail. Your characters should interact with the setting. A reader should be able to see and hear and smell the novel through the words on the page.
Please do not make these five mistakes when you write. Remember that you are competing for a place in a crowded market. The Internet, television, movies, and smart phones have taken their toll and today’s reader will not tolerate long flowery sentences, insipid characters and pages of boring backstory. Writing like this is a guaranteed way to lose your reader in the first few pages.
Source for Image
Join us for Writers Write – How to write a book – in Johannesburg.
© Amanda Patterson
If you enjoyed this post, read:
- Making a Stand – Three simple ways to get your hero to make a stand
- Seven Extremely Good Reasons to Write the Ending First
- What Does It Take To Write A Book? – The 5 Qualities Published Authors Share
Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write – Write to communicate