1. colorthemap
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    colorthemap Contributing Member

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    Boring Starts... on purpose?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by colorthemap, Feb 5, 2012.

    My current story starts off purposely, very boring. This is to show how dull everyday life is in the world I am shaping. But I wonder if someone read such a thing would they stop because it was too boring? Do you usually hunker down and read through dull parts, or would you stop reading altogether? Is there a way to show the dullness of everyday life without being boring in the actual writing? Help is much obliged.

    -Color(or colour)themap
     
  2. L a u r a
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    L a u r a Senior Member

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    It's all about voice. If you play out your story through the eyes of the right character(s), then you can make anything sound interesting. Give me sarcasm, wit, or stupidity. Anything. As long as you insert a funny/otherwise intriguing comment every once in awhile, you can give your readers a dull, mundane setting and still keep their interest. If your story is boring right now, change it. You don't have to alter the setting or anything; it's obvious you want it to be bland. But let your characters pick it up when your storyline falls short. Don't let your readers get bored.

    Also, be careful not to babble on for too long. Readers can catch up on hints pretty quickly, so you won't need much of an intro to show "how dull everyday life is."
     
  3. colorthemap
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    colorthemap Contributing Member

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    What I want is to show the boringness to bring contrast to later events. I guess what I am asking is what is "too boring" and what is "artistic merit?"
     
  4. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Two things: First, it is possible to depict boring life in a boring world without boring the reader. As Laura said, it's about voice. If your narrative voice is interesting, your reader will probably keep reading just because of that.

    Second, how long does this boring section last? Most readers will tolerate two or three pages, assuming they have an attention span above that of an insect, but if you're going to be boring for forty or fifty pages, you are in deep trouble. You will have to pay readers large amounts of money out of your own pocket to get them to tolerate that.
     
  5. Kallithrix
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    Kallithrix Banned

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    Here's the thing: whatever subject you choose to depict, whether ordinary or fantastical, your writing should NEVER be boring.

    If the writing itself is dull, there is no sense in asking how much boring is too much, because the reader has already voted with their feet by putting the book down and finding a less boring one to read.
     
  6. L a u r a
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    L a u r a Senior Member

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    That's tough to say without seeing an example of your writing. I am going to stick to my two points that I made above, though, just because I live by them:
    * Don't drone on and on forever (And this is where your judgement comes in. How long is your forever?)
    * Give your character(s) voice

    AND...I'm going to add another point: Don't describe just for the sake of describing. If you're filling up a void to purposely make your story boring, don't. I get that you want to establish a mood, but you can do that without making your readers want to smash their heads into a concrete wall. So instead of babbling about nothing, perhaps you could start off with a mini story about a main character. Through this mini story, you could reveal past events that will later be meaningful in your main plot. To establish the "dull" mood, have the mini story be about a seemingly normal occurrence. For instance, say your MC is car shopping. Describe him/her going through the newspaper adds and introduce the creepy car salesman whose eyebrow would make Squidward proud. The mini story itself seems pointless, right? It seems boring enough. You can show off the movie store whose newest release dates back to 2007, the MC's friends who do nothing but play videogames all day, and the local pool that no longer has the funds to stay open. That's all fine and dandy. But then, later in your book, you can bring back the creepy car salesman and have him be part of the main plot. This way, you establish the humdrum mood and keep your readers' interest.

    Again, these are just broad suggestions that may or may not help you, but I figured it was worth a shot.
     
  7. Mark_Archibald
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    Mark_Archibald Active Member

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    By asking yourself that question you have already answered it. Not to sound harsh, but unless you are a published author with a strong following you DO NOT have the luxury to write substandard work in the opening pages of your novel/story/script/biography/memoir/anything.
     
  8. Mark_Archibald
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    Mark_Archibald Active Member

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    Yes. From the readers perspective if they're reading something from an author they've never heard of before; the opening pages are going to win them over or lose them. Make your first impression count or people will look elsewhere. That applies to several aspects of life.
     
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  9. L a u r a
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    L a u r a Senior Member

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    Well said, my friend!
     
  10. UrbanBanshee
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    Everybody already lives "boring" lives, so too much emphasis isn't needed. A good writer can make almost anything interesting, but unless there is more of a point then "running from danger is more exciting then doing laundry" I don't see the need. A moderate start should be to introduce readers to the character properly so when things do take a turn for the worse we are rooting for them.

    As has been said already, the very beginning of a book can make or break a story. A reader can forgive a slow middle, and an average end but a slow beginning is near impossible to save yourself from. You can say that the dull beginning is to contrast with when things do get exciting, but remember you aren't going to be lurking behind the readers shoulders and prodding them along with "it'll get exciting I swear, the dull beginning is for effect." It might make wonderful sense once they get past the beginning, but if they never make it past the dull it doesn't matter.
     
  11. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    I would definitely stop if it was too boring in the beginning. I think it is important to "hook" the reader straight away, nobody wants to read boring things
     
  12. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Colorthemap,
    Can you elaborate more? I think more help can be offered if you summarize the idea for your story.

    Or are you just referring to buildup?
     
  13. Yoshiko
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    Yoshiko Contributing Member Contributor

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    I would most likely put it back and go find something else that will grip me within the first couple of pages. So many people use the first chapter in this way and I get tired of it unless the protagonist already has an interesting "normal" life.
     
  14. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    "Audience Building Advice. Consider the public. Treat it with tact and courtesy...Coax it, charm it, interest it, stimulate it, shock it now and then, if you must, make it laugh, make it cry and make it think, but above all, dear pioneers, in spite of indiscriminate and largely ignorant critical acclaim, in spite of awards and prizes and other dubious accolades, never never never bore the living hell out of it"--Noel Coward, "A Warning to Pioneers", The Sunday Times, January 15, 1961
     
  15. VM80
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    VM80 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think there's a difference between 'boring writing' and depicting (without going into elaborate detail) that life within the world created is 'boring'.

    You can paint a picture of 'boredom' with a few choice descriptions, or a few lines of dialogue.

    To answer your question: if the premise of your story interested me, and the writing style was fresh, I'd carry on reading.
     
  16. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree with everyone else. Your writing doesn't have to be boring to convey that the mc is leading a boring life. You could present the supporting characters as interesting people, or the setting in a fascinating way. I think this is something I struggle with myself, so I understand the problem. I think, like the others said, that the reader has a very short attention span when it comes to boring books, I guess 2-3 pages would be maximum they would tollerate so the writing in itself needs to be good for them to read beyond that.
     
  17. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    no one can tell if you can pull it off without reading your opening page...
     
  18. Pea
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    Pea super pea!

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    Sounds like a recipe for the reader to put your book back on the shelf and walk away. Though maybe you could get away with it if you have an interesting narrative voice, making the mundane interesting or gripping in some way.
     
  19. RusticOnion
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    RusticOnion Contributing Member

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    It all depends on length.

    You really haven't given us anything to go on here.
     
  20. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    I know everybody's mentioning character voicing and length, but if you want it to be purposely boring, character voice isn't the problem you're facing, and length shouldn't matter since you're doing it on purpose. It'll go on as long as you need it to, really.

    Foreshadow the hell out of whatever's coming. If you want to keep someone hooked with a "boring" beginning, you need to essentially promise that something's going to happen without saying so.
     
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  21. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    If you can rustle up a copy of Nevil Shute's Trustee from the Toolroom - long since out of print - you will see a perfect example of a novel that begins with what you would likely consider a "boring" life. The key is that the MC doesn't see it as boring, he sees it as comfortable. And you must put yourself in the MC's place, at least at the outset. But I would also, as Shute does, give the reader some hints in that opening chapter of coming conflict, as well as the MC's intense personal desire to avoid any kind of disruption in his life. Because if you portray the MC as bored, the opening serves no purpose.
     
  22. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    Cruci: That was a good idea! :) I like that.
     
  23. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Start with an out of the ordinary day. Make it clear from your characyter's reactions, and those of other characters around her, just how unprecedented a break from routine is, and how unsettling.

    And, of course, as your character begins his adventure, those around her are still suffering away their tedious existences.
     
  24. joanna
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    joanna Active Member

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    I agree that the mundane can be rendered in a way that is interesting, tense, or builds anticipation.

    Raymond Carver's short story A Small, Good Thing begins with the mundane, but describes it in a way that makes us think something different, even frightening, might be just around the bend -- like walking outside to face a calm, beautiful day, but with an ominous breeze and clouds gathering in the distance.
     
  25. louis1
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    louis1 Contributing Member

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    well i think boring is okay, i guess, i read some books where i felt like a a single thing was happening for 60% of the book, but it was still a best seller or some shit like that, i guess people with too much awesome in their lifes want to read boring stuff ?.. i don't know. just write what ever you want.
     

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