The Snooze Factor

Pro tip for writers of fiction: If you’re bored while writing, your readers will probably be bored too. Trying to soldier on through and keep writing when bored is not a sign that you’re being productive. On the contrary, the productive thing to do is to stop writing, notice that you’re bored, ask yourself what it is in the story that’s boring, and then find a way to make it more gripping.

The converse is not true, unfortunately: If you’re having a wonderful time while writing, it’s not necessarily the case that your readers will be enthralled.

I’ve started drafting a cozy-type mystery. Initially I liked my story idea a lot, but after writing the first eight chapters I find my enthusiasm flagging. The reason, I quickly ascertained, is that my sleuth has no skin in the game. She has no compelling emotional involvement that would force her to sneak around and solve the crime.

In the cozies I’ve been reading, the sleuth’s emotional involvement tends to be rather flimsy. It doesn’t stand up to much in the way of rational scrutiny. But I doubt cozy readers care. The sleuth is involved and committed. That’s what’s important.

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