Opinion why nonfiction is boring

This thought popped into mind while I was writing the previous post. It matured while doing things away from the computer. (Hey, I do have some life. And besides my daughter came home for spring break. YAY. but I, inevitably, digress.)

The reason most nonfiction is boring is it is all about events and rarely about the character(s). It’s a solid lesson that gets hammered into writers of fiction, and I think it should be hammered into the non-fiction writers as well. Rolling off days and times and actions can be intensely interesting if it’s your particular focus, but for everyone else it’s as interesting as an infodump in your thriller. Yay, I really wanted to know the IP layers in the middle of this computer theft novel. If it’s not Checkov’s shotgun it should be shot.

I have to watch out that I don’t try to turn the background I’m writing into the focus of the story. It’s background. Some of it will drive character behavior, and that’s where it’ll have to leak. Oh, and some will prevent the “say what” reactions from readers, hopefully turning into “Oh, cool” reactions instead. But it dawned on me as I was finishing a brief treatise on the political structure of elven nations and their interactions that it was reading a lot like some of the more boring political analyses I’ve read.

Consider it a reminder to writers of both fiction and nonfiction. Unless you’re writing of something in which the readers are interested in itself, they don’t really care about the event or the “history”. It’s the people who matter.

hmmm, maybe I need a slogan button. “It’s the people, stupid.”

back to the grindstone.

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