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Saturday, March 2, 2013

Top Ten Ways Authors Bore Readers

Some act like writing a novel is easy, based on how many authors are published each year among self-published titles and the quality in many of them. There are so many ways an author can fail the reader and bore them to sleep. Here are my top ten ways us authors can bore our readers.

10. Boring start to the story.

Nothing like a massive info dump or display of the author's research to get a reader yawning before he reads past page one. . . if he makes it that far.

9. Boring movement through the middle of the story.

Despite a great start, the story bogs down into daily life and seems to be going nowhere. It appears the author is just adding filling to make the story long enough to be labeled a novel. "Whoops! Can't get to the ending yet. Let's have them talk about politics. Yeah, that will be interesting." Right.

8. Boring ending to a story.

An otherwise great story does a free fall at the end either by failing to add unexpected twists to its resolutions and/or not resolving the primary story arcs at all.

7. Boring characters.

Nothing says, "sit back and fall asleep" faster than all characters sounding alike, sounding like the author, stereotyped, and/or annoying. Go ahead. Make my day.

6. Boring dialog.

When your computer could write more compelling dialog, you know you're in trouble. In real life, small talk is engaging. In a novel, small talk will have most readers wondering when the author is going to return to telling the story.

5. Boring action.

When the reader slodges or skips long sections of action sequences with little character/story building, he will more likely equate your novel with a B-rated Kung-Fu movie than an exciting story. When you hear your son saying what mine said upon hearing a story read to him, "He took a whole paragraph to say they got off their horses," you know you're boring your readers.

4. Boring descriptions.

Nothing halts progress like pausing a story for a litany of static scenic descriptions. We might as well watch paint dry. Descriptions should paint an active picture in story, not pull out to fill in every little detail whether important or not for the sake of realism.

3. Boring climax.

Few things are more frustrating to a reader than having a story build to a climax, then having it putter out. Instead of emotional payoff, the reader gets emotional frustration, and a bad case of book-throwing.

2. Boring conflict.

So your protagonist needs to save his bedroom from roaches. Okay, maybe I can identify with that dilemma, but do I care? Not likely. Not unless, perhaps, they are aliens invading our world through a dimensional portal in the walls of your room. Low stakes for the characters means low stakes on keeping a reader interested and entertained.

1. Wasting the reader's time.

Not to mention any money spent to acquire the book. If your story is boring (You did catch that theme, didn't you?), that means the reader will regret having spent the money for the book, and the time to read it, however far they may have foraged through it. Creating an entertaining story is the first task of a fiction writer. Fail there, and you won't gain a solid following.

What other things authors do that bore you to tears?

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