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No book is worth writing if it puts the author to sleep

March 2, 2013

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Have you ever wondered why certain films or books have a certain hold on you? What is it about some stories that grab you and won’t let go, that stay with you over the years?
This morning I was watching the film, Elmer Gantry, on television. It’s a movie I’ve seen before and certainly enjoyed, but I’m thinking I’m going to eventually flick the channel to something else. I know how the movie plays out. But I don’t change the channel. Something keeps me watching this old movie starring Burt Lancaster and Jean Simmons (the actress, not the KISS rocker you goofies) . And I think I know I what it is that keeps me riveted to this Oscar award-winning movie.
There’s greed and love and lust and power with a powerful dose of religion thrown in for good measure. Every scene in the movie packs some incredible punch. The writers turn up the juice, and just when you think you can sit back and relax, here comes another emotionally charged scene.
Some of the most interesting stories are those that keep the drama coming. It’s not a bad way to write any story. Why put your readers to sleep? Give them something that makes them turn the pages. Bring out the tears and joy in your characters. Uplift them, force them to face something, beat them up a bit, and perhaps build them back up. Knock ’em down and make ’em get back up to fight the good fight once again.
Bring on the confrontation. Make them live, really live. Don’t be afraid to make your characters taste, smell, feel. Maybe your story doesn’t call for combat and courtroom drama, but give it some fight just the same.
Don’t be dull. March out the misery, the pain and the rapturous moments too. Have fun with your story. Give it life. Don’t be dull, which is death to any story. If your story makes you snore, it will likely put anyone who reads it to sleep too.  

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3 Comments
  1. Yes, and it’s not always action, but there has to be some movement in a story, whether physical, intellectual (think of a locked-room murder mystery) or emotional. And character too.

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  1. No book is worth writing if it puts the author to sleep | mreuther

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