“The greatest sin for a writer is to be boring.” – Carl Hiaasen, Born Mar. 12, 1953.
If you can manage to keep yourself free of this sin, the world can be yours.
It doesn't matter if you're not so convincing, or so poetic, or so informative. Your readers will forgive you for that.
Just don't be boring. Boring is death. Boring is what makes people leave and never come back. Boredom is why they are even looking to you for anything in the first place.
If you can capture interest and elicit curiosity, you can make up for any other shortcoming. And that's great news! Because curiosity is easy to snag from people. And it's even easier to draw it out and sustain it once you grab it.
This is why there are many successful writers who don't write “correctly” or “properly”. That's not what makes people want to keep reading.
It's more about an involuntary chemical reaction, a glitch in the meat computer's programming. Certain things literally ARREST attention out of people. Their brain homes on pattern-breaking information as an evolved survival mechanism.
So how do you break the pattern?
Figure out what is boring and expected to your audience, and then violate that expectation in some way. Here are a few easy ways.
1. You need to present a sharp story: Cool characters. Unique settings. Challenging conflicts. Satisfying resolutions. Stories make people pay attention because their mind demands to know how it turns out.
For examples, look to TV ads for shit like detergent. Try and note the setting, characters, conflict, and resolution. They're there.
2. Turn a clever phrase now and then. Just something that makes people have to jump back and read it again. If you can't be clever, just be silly.
For example, I am well known for writing with profanity, but I try to invent new cusses occasionally, like shitgiblets. It's silly, but it's funny. Funny isn't boring.
3. Make comparisons and contrasts that are unexpected and intriguing. Metaphors, similes, analogies – all of these are ways to give people new ways to see old things. You don't have to create anything totally new. Just smash two random things together.
For example, I've used comic book characters as a lens to explain marketing. I'm talking about ancient principles that I didn't invent – but I'm wrapping it up in a new kind of description and comparison.
Now, one last tip besides just not being boring.
4. Be interesting.
“Oh sure” you say. Easy for you to say. Look, being interesting is not that hard to do. I'll teach you.
1. Be interestED.
2. That's it.
Like Harvey Danger once said, if you're bored, you're boring.
Be the most interested person in the world when it comes to the topic you find yourself writing about. Be fascinated. Be compelled. Be curious. Be surprised.
It all comes across in what you write and it's contagious. If a guy stands on the street pointing, every passerby will look at what he's pointing at. They can't help it.
So point at interesting stuff. Point out what makes it interest you. Share it. Enthusiasm is a potent contagion. And it should be easy – your job is literally to discover shit that YOU'RE interested in and then share it. It's FUN.
So enjoy yourself out there.
Just don't be fucking boring, you dick.