A cure for boredom

Readers are easily bored.

What can a writer do?

Read master editor Sol Stein’s book: Stein on Writing. Quite possibly the best book about writing you’re likely to read, ever.

The cure?

Appeal to your readers’ emotions.

You’ve got to touch the reader’s emotions to keep them reading on, says Stein. Good writing immerses readers in heightened experience more rewarding than life around them.

This is nothing new to most people in the business of communication.

But here’s an approach bound to open an eye or two: characterise by action.

Spotlighting an individual who is characterised by their actions will stir reader emotions.

Consider this example from Pulitzer Prize winning New York Times journalist John Burns, in his reporting from the former Yugoslavia:

“As the 155-millimeter howitzer shells whistled down on this crumbling city, exploding into buildings all around, a dishevelled stubble-bearded man in formal evening attire unfolded a plastic chair in the middle of Vase Miskina Street. He lifted his cello from its case and began playing Albinoni’s Adagio.”

Burns helps us see the besieged city by focusing on an individual performing an eccentric and somehow beautiful act.

Here’s another example of characterisation, source unknown:

“She always stood sideways so people could see how skinny she was.”

Suddenly, we’re hooked. We want to know more about this person, simply because we’ve witnessed her unusual behaviour.

Let the reader see your characters talking and doing things.