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Avoid Writing Fail #1: Failure to Entertain

Yawn for blog“I warn you, if you bore me, I shall take my revenge.” (J.R.R. Tolkien, author of The Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit) For most bored readers, that “revenge” is putting your book down and for some, taking to the internet to pen a negative review, tweet or Facebook update.

As I speak in writing seminars and workshops, one reminder I give authors is: writing is entertainment. We write to “entertain” and books are an entertainment medium.

When I say this, some immediately assume that by “entertainment” I mean making people laugh. Entertainment is so much more than that.

The best entertainment takes its audience (the reader) away on an all-encompassing trip for the heart, mind, and imagination. You know what I mean. We’ve all had the experience of reading a book that takes us on an amazing trip–one that excites and engages us down to our very soul. Then what happens? We are disappointed and unmoved by the hideous movie that comes out later which is supposedly based on that book.

What happened? The movie didn’t take us on the all-encompassing trip. The pictures the writer of the book presented to our mind powerfully engaged our emotion and imagination, while the screenplay writer and director failed to do so with the movie. So how do you write to entertain?

1) Say as much as you can with as few words as possible.


Use as few words as possible to say as much as possible. Be ruthless against excessive description and wordiness. Never use two words when you can use one.

2) Emphasize engaging your audience emotionally.

Entertaining writing is all about emotion. Entertaining books engage emotion above all. The most entertaining books are those that inspire people, or that make them laugh, cry, think, or at times, make people angry (but don’t keep them there). Note: Intellectual stimulation, as is found when reading biographies and histroy, is also a form of entertainment.

So many writers get caught up in the mechanics and work of writing that it keeps their writing lifeless and cold–from the head–and it shows. Emotional engagement and entertainment come from the heart.

How does the writer get the writing out of their head and into their heart? They keep the audience they are writing for ever before them as they write. They remember the audience is made up of emotional beings and remember their responsibility to keep that reader engaged and entertained. (This can mean hundreds of things as one writes.)

3) Refuse to write selfishly.

Selfish writing is writing that is decidedly self-indulgent (to satisfy one’s ego, to gain a soapbox, to “win” an argument), self-consumed (“look how smart I am,” “look how spiritual I am,” “look at all the bad stuff I have gone through”), or motivated by self-interest (seeking validation, significance, money or prestige).

Be unselfish in your writing. Ask yourself, what will the reader get from reading my book? How will this section of this chapter inspire people? When people read this challenging chapter, will they feel loved into truth or bludgeoned by truth? Will the reader feel shamed or empowered by my insight here? Am I keeping in mind that people respond to optimism and positivity more than to a critical spirit and negativity?

4) Have FUN!

Yes, writing is hard work. Yes, people say writing is more like bleeding the words out of your veins than letting words flow through your pen. That said, at some point, writing has to be a joyful and enjoyable experience, or the end result will be a lifeless, boring work.

Always write from the creative place. Keep those creative batteries charged. Keep the fun in writing. Stay inspired. Fan the flames of the writing passion. If writing becomes a grind or drudgery and you are burning out, give yourself permission to take a break and “smell some roses.”  You’ll come back recharged and refreshed.

Remember this: A churned out book by a burned out writer will fail to entertain.

We can help you write to entertain.

We can serve as your Christian writing coach and evaluate your work to make sure it is entertaining. In fact, we can help you with every phase of your writing from book idea to final manuscript. Click here to find out more about the ChristianWriterHelp.com!

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