One reason I think some people choose to write is they believe they have something to say, something important, something so strong in them they believe the world must hear. I would be lying if I did not put myself in that category to some degree. I do have things to say. I hope to say them and I hope to say them well. But at the top of my goals as a writer, more specifically a story-teller, is simply this:

Do not be boring.

Boredom is the enemy of good writing. Boredom is the enemy of anything you want people to like and remember. Boring=forgettable. Boring is literary sin.

I repeat. Boring is sin.

I have read some books where I believe the author is saying something important, true even, but they fail in their quest if only because their beautiful truth is lost in the drudgery of their words. It’s like trying to make me eat soggy, bland vegetables. I know they are good for me, but at the same time the way in which they were prepared is making me sick and I might just puke it all up. Purpose lost.

Okay that sounds harsh. I think it’s okay to have a theme in mind for your story, or a message you feel strongly about. My caution is simply this: setting out to prove a point can often lead to bland writing, tough and indigestible. When we are story-telling, whatever point we think we need to make must take a back-burner to the experience. Our job is to create an journey that other people will want to take and come away feeling altered.

If you are dedicated to the experience, the world and your characters, your deepest beliefs will come out freely and without force. Sometimes you will be surprised by what you write because the subconscious can release things your conscious mind never would. I think that’s what happens when writers say their characters “take over” their story. They simply liberated their subconscious. It’s a magical place I tell you.

So, three things I think will help in your endeavor to make a point:

1. Be authentic.
2. Be imaginative.
3. Immerse yourself in your characters’ world and experience.

All that deep feeling and theory you absolutely must share with the world will either come naturally to the page or it will remain in the fuzzy parts of your brain, still developing for another story.

Don’t force it. You’re certain to be boring or annoying and nobody likes either.


  1. I’m super awesome at number three… still working on one and two šŸ™‚

    One thing that’s really stuck with me that I heard from a crit partner – if you’re not loving writing a particular section, people aren’t going to love reading it. If you find yourself stuck at the same scene, maybe it’s time to re-think. SO SO true.
    I’ve read books like the one you described – where I got the point, but MAN it wasn’t an entertaining way to get there šŸ™‚

  2. I think the word boring is going to reverberate around in my head for the next couple of hours…which is a good thing, because I will not be boring because of that warning!

    • ali

    • March 16, 2011

    • 9:24 pm

    Ha! So, so true! I think I’m reading a book right now that falls into the boring category (I’m only on the second chapter) but I can tell you, I will not read past page 50 if the author doesn’t cut it out already!

  3. Completely agree with this. Even if you have something important to say, no one will read it if it’s boring.

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